Design thinking is a creative problem-solving strategy that’s designed to put you into the minds of the people you’re solving problems for. Thus design thinking process at its core is all about user-centered design. The user’s journey, motivations, and pain points are present in all steps of the process to create a tailored solution.
Most design thinking boils down to 5 main phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test
Empathize Empathy is crucial to the rest of the process because it is how designers can learn about their user. When you empathize with someone, you see the world through their eyes. In the designer’s case, empathy means putting aside their own preconceived ideas to better understand the problem from the viewpoint of the user. The goal is to understand the user’s thoughts and motivations beyond collecting quantitative data.
Define In this, the designer takes all of the information gathered during the empathize stage and analyzes it. At this stage, the designer tries to go beyond identifying the obvious problems, reframe the same and create a problem statement. Key to this stage is to understand, the best of the solutions do not come from the most obvious problem.
Ideate Ideation is all about creativity.Rather than ideating alone, it is best to bounce concepts around with a group of people also dedicated to solving the problem. Bringing ideas into a group setting allows them to evolve and grow into a stronger solution. In the ideate stage, all ideas are good ideas. Here, you are not confined to the rules of logic or execution.
Prototype Prototyping allows designers to preview the practicality of a solution in terms of execution by making a scaled down and cheaper version. A prototype is valuable because it can expose weaknesses and flaws in your design.The design thinking process is non-linear and flexible. It is a good thing if during the process you find yourself jumping around steps! Knowing when to go back and re-evaluate the problem definition is important, and your resulting design will be better for it.
Test Bring your design to the users and gather feedback. Hit the streets to have the user test the solution in their normal day-to-day. Make sure to record all feedback as it’s likely you will be heading back to the ideation stage a few more times before you settle on a final solution.
Unlike other problem-solving methods, design thinking challenges you to create an actionable plan that’s easy to test. Gathering data around how users interact with your new product or solution during the testing phase allows you to make quick iterations for an improved experience. Design thinking doesn’t just involve your employees. It brings in the thoughts and opinions of your customers so you can truly create a comprehensive solution that can appease end-users and stakeholders.