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The Design Thinking Process

In essence, the Design Thinking process is iterative, flexible and focused on collaboration between designers and users, with an emphasis on bringing ideas to life based on how real users think, feel and behave.

Design thinking tackles complex problem by

Empathising: Understanding the human needs involved.

Defining: Re-framing and defining the problem in human-centric ways.

Ideating: Creating many ideas in brainstorm sessions in order to solve the problem creating a solution.

Prototyping: Adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping.

Testing: Developing a prototype/solution to the problem.

1. EMPATHISE

The first stage of the Design Thinking process is to gain an empathic understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. This involves consulting experts to find out more about the area of concern through observing, engaging and empathizing with people to understand their experiences and motivations, as well as immersing yourself in the physical environment to have a deeper personal understanding of the issues involved. Empathy is crucial to a human-centered design process such as Design Thinking, and empathy allows design thinkers to set aside his or her own assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into users and their needs.

Depending on time constraints, a substantial amount of information is gathered at this stage to use during the next stage and to develop the best possible understanding of the users, their needs, and the problems that underlie the development of that particular product.

2. DEFINE

During the Define stage, you put together the information you have created and gathered during the discovery stage. You will analyze your observations and synthesize them in order to define the core problems that you and your team have identified up to this point. You should seek to define the problem as a problem statement in a human-centered manner.

The Define stage will help the team gather great ideas to establish features, functions, and any other elements that will allow them to solve the problems. In the Define stage you will start to progress to the third stage, 10x, by asking questions which can help you look for ideas for solutions.

3. IDEATE/10X

During the third stage of the Design Thinking process, the team is ready to start generating ideas. You’ve grown to understand your problem and the client needs in the discovery stage, and you’ve analyzed and synthesized your observations in the Define stage, and ended up with a human-centered problem statement. With this solid background yourself and your team members can start to 'think outside the box' to identify new solutions to the problem statement you’ve created, and you can start to look for alternative ways of viewing the problem.

Brainstorm sessions are typically used to stimulate free thinking and to expand the problem space, at this stage everyone involved should write down at least ten ideas that comes in mind. It is important to get as many ideas or problem solutions as possible at the beginning of this stage.

4. PROTOTYPE

The design team will now produce a number of inexpensive, scaled down versions of the product or specific features found within the product, so they can investigate the problem solutions generated in the previous stage.

The solutions are implemented within the prototypes and, one-by-one, they are investigated and either accepted, improved and re-examined, or rejected on the basis of the users’ experiences. By the end of this stage, the design team will have a better idea of the constraints inherent within the product, the problems that are present, and have a better informed perspective of how real users would behave, think, and feel when interacting with the end product.

5. TEST

Designers or evaluators rigorously test the complete product using the best solutions identified during the prototyping phase. This is the final stage of the process, the results generated during the testing phase are often used to redefine one or more problems and inform the understanding of the users, the conditions of use, how people think, behave, and feel, and to empathize. Even during this phase, alterations and refinements are made in order to rule out problem solutions and derive as deep an understanding of the product and its users as possible.

As we have seen, the structure of design thinking creates a natural non-linear flow from research to rollout and research again. Empathise with the customer experience produces data, which is then transformed into insights, which help teams agree on design criteria they use to brainstorm solutions. Assumptions about what’s critical to the success of those solutions are studied and then tested with prototypes that help teams further develop innovations and prepare for real-world experiments.

Check some of the advantages on utilizing design thinking not only for designing products but to solve business challenges on this article.

Sources

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