What is design thinking and why is it important to decode how users think

Design thinking creates a holistic approach to creating a problem-solving mechanism

Tanya Jain September 09, 2022 06:52:14 IST
What is design thinking and why is it important to decode how users think

Design Thinking concept. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Design thinking essentially helps a creative streamline their thought process and create a system that they can work with. It’s an extremely important process that every designer should apply to their skill set. As a creative, when you create a product or service for a client, understanding their needs should be a priority. In order to do so, you should be able to empathise with your audience and keep their emotions in mind. A design evokes feelings which encourage the customer to buy the product or service. Of course, functionality and practicality play an integral role as well, however the first look is where the emotion lies.

There are five main non-linear stages in design thinking — Empathising, Defining an Audience, Ideating, Prototyping and Testing. Once you clear all stages, you can come up with a core strategy for your client that is well-thought out, innovative and structured. Once you create a process for yourself that is based on the principles of design thinking, you can create a flow that starts to work for itself.

As a process, design thinking is applicable to all creatives, whether they work individually or with teams. Not only does it help streamline your workflow, it also helps you solve problems better when it comes to working with clients who are either seeking help for their product or service.

A process that takes into account both qualitative and quantitative data, design thinking creates a holistic approach to creating a problem-solving mechanism. It’s a “user first” thought process. Starting with vague ideas and then supporting them with data that is analysed well, as a creative you can understand both sides of the coin and support your solution with rational discoveries.

The stages mentioned below are non-linear and can be rearranged in order to reach the final outcome.

  • Empathising: This is the first step ideally to outline the user’s needs. This stage can be used as the starting point to help you start the process. Create a broad list of who your user is and what their needs are.
  • Defining the Audience: Once you have narrowed down the user’s needs, this stage helps you funnel the problems they are facing.
  • Ideating: Ideating can be considered as a brainstorming stage where you get creative to formulate solutions based on the data collected on the core user group. This stage should be discussed and researched at length. Once you make a mind map of what the solutions could be to the problems that need to be addressed, creative solutions can start to be the bridge between ideas and prototyping.
  • Prototyping: As the name suggests, this stage involves working on multiple iterations based on the ideas you have shortlisted, that need to be experimented with. Only then will this stage break away from following a certain roadmap, it’ll construct and reconstruct ideas and processes until an outcome is nailed-down.
  • Testing: This is a very interesting and feedback-based stage where you don’t just collect quantitative data based on the user’s reaction, you also receive feedback as to what the user thinks about the solution. Users are an integral part of the process, they help you understand the main “why” which the entire process is based on. Using the feedback received from the testing stage, creatives can go back to the drawing board to better formulate their theory.
  • Design thinking is a simple approach that can help creatives develop a strategy that solidifies their thought process. Being a multi-staged process, you can break down your actions and take control of the solution you intend on offering the user.

    Keeping the user and their problems at the centre, you need to conceptualise, create prototypes and finally actualise. This creative approach will not just help you understand how users think and behave, it’ll also help you stand outside the box and think in a non-linear manner to come up with multi-faceted solutions.

    The author is a graphic designer and writer. Views are personal.

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