Design Thinking refers to a methodology for the generation of innovative ideas and focuses on the perspective of end-users. In this way, problems and needs can be detected, as well as offering effective solutions and in many cases, alternatives, for each of them.
By name, it seems that it is only linked to design or advertising. Design Thinking is becoming more important in recent years since the IDEO consultancy began to talk about the subject and currently, this company has become one of the main exponents of Design Thinking.
Today, we will mention the five stages of Design Thinking and what each one entails, in case you want to put it into practice in other projects that are not totally related to design.
Empathy is the ability of human beings to identify with certain people and understand their feelings. As you can imagine, this is the essential phase in which designers or group members try to know and understand end-users more deeply. It is not only about knowing data and statistics but about analyzing situations, understanding the life of users, as well as the different problems and needs they have.
To develop empathy, it is not enough to observe users but to get involved with them through a conversation in which they can share their point of view and you must try to listen carefully. It can be difficult to develop a degree of empathy with end-users, but this phase is the basis of Design Thinking, so it must be done with great patience.
Once you get to know the difficulties and problems of the end-users in-depth, you can move on to the next stage. As part of this phase, you must evaluate all the information collected in the previous stage and keep only that which brings value and is relevant to be able to meet users, as well as have a more accurate idea of their daily life.
In the first phase, apart from knowing the routines of the end-users, you will be able to recognize a wide variety of problems and needs. Since not all of those problems have a solution or you simply cannot solve all the problems of the end-users, as a company, you have a certain approach to a single item or a couple of items, so it is impossible for you to solve all their problems. It is essential, then, to define what are the client’s problems according to the area of the opportunity offered by each particular problem. In this way, by having a series of specific problems you can focus on taking the necessary measures to reach a definitive solution.
As the name implies, in this phase the process of generating ideas begins based on previously established problems. The goal is to have many solution alternatives and not go in search of the best solution, at least for now. All team members should be encouraged to participate in this session and present their opinion and point of view. No idea should be discarded and you can use various creative methods such as brainstorming or mind mapping, any strategy that is more appropriate for your team.
Particular work must be done to create an environment in which all members feel able to contribute and give ideas, without being judged by them. It is essential that a free and trustworthy environment be created, where no idea is questioned.
The purpose of this phase is to convert the idea or solution you have reached into a digital or physical prototype. It should not necessarily be an object, but also a drawing or even a storyboard. Prototypes can be made with materials such as paper, cardboard, plasticine or lego blocks. These economic materials are usually used when the project is in its initial stages and is improving as the project shows progress.
As you should know, a prototype within the web design process is usually one of the final elements with which the user can interact and is used to perform tests. In the case of Design Thinking, as we have already mentioned, the prototype can be made with materials and tools based on the available budget. The great advantage of using this approach is that gradual improvements can be made to the prototype without spending too much.
At this stage, tests are carried out with the previously made prototypes and users are asked for their opinions and comments on the matter, based on the use of the prototypes. It is an essential phase in Design Thinking because it helps identify errors and possible shortcomings that the product may have. Based on the tests, various improvements can be made to the product.
Despite being the last phase, you may encounter various situations that require returning more than one stage back in the process. For example, if you realize that you have not defined the problem well, then it is necessary to return to that stage and start again from there. Otherwise, you will most likely return to the prototyping stage to refine certain details or include new features.
As you have seen, Design Thinking is closely related to the design process and even some of the phases are very similar. The main difference is perhaps in the depth of analysis of all phases. Although the web design process also has certain phases, each person adapts it according to their needs or preferences. Also, in the web design process, there is already a specific product that you want to develop. On the other hand, Design Thinking serves to generate ideas and products based on the needs and different problematic situations of the users themselves. For this reason, it is not only used in fields related to design but also in any company in which they wish to offer specific and innovative solutions.