In our previous episode, we talked about the need to create a good user experience and why it matters. We talked about the different needs and expectations of users and why it is integral to understand the different personas interacting with your product. In today’s episode, we will talk about the approach to Design Thinking.
In the early 70s, making cheaper products was one of the major goals of companies. If you designed a product that had a lower cost price, chances were very likely that you would dominate the market. A decade later, businesses focused on making these products better. However, in the early 2000s, the focus was to make better products, improving their features, design, and usability. In recent times, the focus of businesses is to make better products with people for people. This means, improvising products with real data to provide users a solution they actually need.
Design thinking is the way we think and create different things. It’s a human centered and collaborative approach to problem solving that is creative, iterative, and practical. It’s the essential ability to combine empathy, creativity, and rationality to meet user needs and drive business success.
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So, a client wants you to create a product for them. What should the design of the product be like? This question leads to design thinking coming into practice. Let’s break it down into 5 phases.
1 – Empathize
For every successful product, empathy is at the heart of design. If you do not understand what others feel, see, desire, or experience, then this whole process is pointless. To understand what the target audience desires or feels, it’s essential to engage with users to gather information. Discover stories and find out responses to various situations.
Empathy is a phase where you come back from time to time in order to understand the desires further, which tells you more about what the users want so that you can improvise accordingly. You might have come across questionnaires on Facebook for feedback to help them improve the user experience. Every product keeps improving with the desires of users. If you are launching a new product, you may ask friends and relatives about the problem identified and discover different angles to the same story, which will help you in the later stages.
2 – Define
Defining the problem statement is essential to ensure all team members understand what users want and are aligned with the needs of the users. Your application would be used by various personas, which makes it vital to identify who would interact with your product and their needs. At times, we assume having everything in our mind will be fine in later stages, but in most cases, we miss out a few points, due to which the product suffers. If every member of your team has a clear understanding of the problem they need to solve, you would not only save time and increase relevancy of ideas in later stages, but also improve the quality of work produced.
3 – Ideate
With the data collected so far, it’s time to bring them to use. Generating ideas is a collaborative approach. In this approach, we don’t look for the right idea; the aim is to generate the broadest range of possibilities. In generating ideas, we mainly use brainstorming techniques.
Brainstorming is a group technique where efforts are made to find as many solutions to a problem. The focus should be on the quantity of ideas in a defined time. Chances of producing a radical and effective solution increases when you have a broader range of ideas. Every team member should be encouraged to participate openly, as their ideas would not be laughed upon, but instead improvised. Hence, it’s essential to defer judgement. At times, ideas that may seem funny are the ones that are improvised to meet the needs of users.
“Minds are like parachutes; they only function when they are open” – Albert Einstein
Brainstorming helps in generating new ideas and thinking outside the box. There are many brainstorming techniques which you can use. The widely used ones are group ideation, mind mapping, and SWOT analysis.
4 – Prototype
After selection of the best ideas generated during the brainstorming sessions, you start creating a prototype of the solution. You build to think, and test to learn when prototyping.
Prototyping helps in communication. Images have a stronger impact on the human brain, and make it easier to interpret the idea being conveyed. The advantage prototyping provides are enormous. You can have better feedback when communicating with a set of people as they would have graphical representations of a possible solution in front to give an honest opinion. It’s also the cheapest and quickest way to fail, which is essential early on, to improvise for a great product. Moreover, with prototypes you can also present multiple solutions without much investment of cost and time, which keeps you open to ideas and suggestions.
5 – Test
“Fail fast and cheap. Fail often. Fail in a way that doesn’t kill you” – Seth Godin
Test your prototype with users to learn about your solution and your target audience. It will help you analyze what further needs to be done, what is working and what is not, the pain points of users and the glitches in experience. This helps you avoid any potential disaster beforehand at a very low cost. So far, you haven’t created a product. You are showing prototypes on paper. Cost? Low. Improvisation? Quick!
Throughout the design thinking process, it’s essential to have a clear winning aspiration; which means how your customers win in any particular situation. The product must be strong in functionality, reliability, usability, convenience, pleasure, and meaningful aspects. If you carefully provide a good user experience with a product that adds value in some way or the other, it gets easier to compete in today’s market.
In the final episode, we will talk about the UX best practices which you can implement in the development of your product. Share with us your opinion on design thinking by tweeting us @cygnismedia. Also, you can read the first episode incase you missed it.