Design Thinking embodies a user-centric, solutions based approach to solving complex problems. Whether it is service design, developing new products or re-designing processes, design thinking helps create better solutions through understanding of end users.
Design Thinking has five phases; Empathizing, Defining, Ideating, Prototyping, and Testing. You can use these simple steps to employ design thinking in any project.
1 Identify Ultimate End Users – the Personas
In project management, stakeholders are identified whereas, in design thinking personas are created to identify how the end user sees, feels and hears using the project /service /product / process. Personas profile an end user group and help provide insight into the group. A persona is created by gathering and including information in its description such as demographics, challenges and goals, values and fears. It also includes a title, messaging, and a sentence to describe the group it represents.
2 Get to Know Persona’s Challenges, Goals, Attributes
While personas identify goals and attributes, Empathy Maps and Journey Maps help to get a better understanding of how end users are feeling as well as gaps and opportunities in their current journey. Empathy Maps uncover what each persona is feeling, thinking, hearing, saying, and doing. Journey Maps are similar to process mapping but help identify gaps, challenges and strengths in order to determine what problem should be solved.
3 Identify What Problem Really Needs To Be Solved
Most of the time, the problem attempted to be solved isn’t the problem that should be solved. Empathy and Journey Mapping will help you understand the varied challenges and opportunities for each persona. When you identify all challenges it is easier to see that there are other linked challenges, which may be more appropriate to tackle.
4 Ideate & Co-Create
Develop ideas on how to solve the challenge(s) that have been selected. This step is even more successful when clients are available to design with you so co-creation can happen.
5 Select Ideas Agreed Upon
Selecting ideas to prototype is a challenging part of the design thinking phases. To simplify, an organization can initially have selection criteria and select the ones that best match. Alternately, you can select by weighted voting with different weights assigned to organizational priorities or to individual voters.
6 Prototype Concepts
The purpose of prototyping for design thinking is to identify what solutions end users will like, as well as those less popular. At least two prototypes are recommended so testers can comment on what they like and dislike on each prototype, and why. Ensure that the prototypes do not look complete as people are more likely to provide input if prototypes don’t look like they’re already implemented.
7 Test Prototypes
Determine why people like the parts they do and ask how it could be made even better. It helps to have your initial end users from the Empathizing phase a part of the Testing phase so they can see the value of their input.
One of the last and most important steps is implementation. Once you have tested all variations of the prototypes – develop the product, service or process by combining the input you received in previous steps (especially the testing step), to take the product to market or put the solution into production.
9 Iterate (Bonus Step)
Designing is never complete. Iteration is required to improve products, services and processes on an ongoing basis, especially as markets, user expectations and technologies progress at impressive rates.