Design thinking is an iterative approach for solving complex problems using human-centric approach. Design thinking is not only used by designers. In fact, it is widely used by professionals across different industries to solve complex problems with empathy.
Design thinking empowers you to create designs that are not just beautiful, but also meet the purpose of the end-user and your organizational goals. It allows you to explore and experiment to find out the best solution to a complex problem. Design thinking is a solution-based approach, not a problem-based approach where the designer is trying to solve one specific problem.
In this approach, designers are allowed to think and find out all possible solutions, whether right or wrong and come up with the best solution that is useful for the end-user.
Design thinking involves two types of thinking:
1. Convergent thinking
2. Divergent thinking
In convergent thinking, the motive is to find out a single best possible solution to a standard problem, keeping in mind the available facts. It is used to solve the problems that don’t require much creativity, taking into account all the factors and requirements specified in the problem statement. It uses logical thinking to solve a problem.
In divergent thinking, the motive is to come up with all possible solutions to a problem and then evaluate them to finalize one solution. It uses imagination to solve a problem.
Importance of Design Thinking in Today’s World
In today’s world where people have access to a wide range of products through the internet and physical stores, the competition for businesses has gone up. Standing out between so many competitors becomes a challenge for them. To overcome these challenges, design thinking comes in, where the motive is not only to provide the user with the desired product but to provide the desired product that best solves their needs.
Design thinking does not use old data and historical facts to find a solution. It considers a different set of people and observes their behavior and reactions to find out the best solution that solves their problem. It allows a designer to think in a new and different way.
Principles of Design Thinking
1. The human rule – This rule says that humans are an integral part of design, as we design with other designers, use ideas from past designers, and ultimately design for humans.
2. The ambiguity rule – This rule says that design solutions are confusing in nature, so removing ambiguity restricts creativity.
3. The re-design rule – This rule says that everything around is a re-design or demands a re-design because humans demand change constantly.
4. The tangibility rule – This rule says that tangible designs and ideas make communication easier, so designers should use prototypes to support their thoughts and ease communication.
Stages of Design Thinking
The first step in design thinking is to “Empathize”. Empathy is to set aside our own thoughts and assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into the users and their needs. Try to gather the maximum information in a given time frame to get better insights.
The commonly used methods for empathizing are:
- Assume a beginner’s mindset
- Ask What-How-Why
- Ask the 5 whys
- Conduct interviews with the end-users
- Use photo and video user-based studies
- Use personal photo and video journals
- Engage with extreme users
- Story share-and-capture
- Understand the body language
- Create journey maps
During the Define stage, you are expected to write down the problem statement. You have to clearly define the problem because this problem definition will help you analyze and find out a good solution to the problem.
In this stage, designers are ready to start generating ideas. You and your team members can now start to “think outside the box” to find out various possible solutions to problems.
There are hundreds of ideation methods. Some methods are:
- Challenge Assumptions
Now it’s time to convert ideas into working prototypes that cost less and take less time. This is done so that they can be evaluated and the problems associated with them can be analyzed.
In this stage, various versions are created and by the end of this stage, the end-user is well aware of how they feel or think about the product.
This is the last stage of the design thinking process but as it is an iterative process, the results generated during the testing phase are often used to redefine problems. Alterations and refinements are carried out in this phase in order to rule out problems.
Design thinking is a non-linear and iterative process. All the stages are not followed in any particular sequence—any stage can be picked up and worked on as per the need. You can repeat a stage any number of times.
Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design Together
Design thinking and human-centered design go hand-in-hand. In design thinking, the motive is to find out a solution that will ultimately be used by users. Human-centered design, on the other hand, takes design thinking one level up and provides a mindset and tools to ensure that the products and/or services actually improve the lives of end-users.
In the end, to wrap up, design thinking is an iterative process that helps designers come up with the best solutions to serve end-users and beneficiaries. It is not a sequential process, you can repeat the stages until you find the best solution.
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