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Design Thinking: Technology, Methods and Tools

After more than 4 years of work as the head of a design studio, design thinking has become for me a natural way to solve complex problems. If you are a novice designer or a specialist working in this field, and if you want to understand what design thinking is, this post is for you.

In this article, I want to focus on high-performance concepts and practical tips. There are many criteria that characterize the correct process of design thinking, and if I dwell on each in detail, the text would be enough for a whole novel. If you have questions for which you would like to receive more detailed answers, you can write to me at oleg@waytostart.ru.

Design thinking is a problem-solving method focused on the interests of the user. Do not be foolish with the concept of “user”: this is the person for whom your design is intended.

design thinking

Some designers believe that the word “user” carries a limited meaning. They explain this by the fact that this concept does not very accurately reflect the complexities and characteristics of human existence. Although I see the point in such reasoning, I believe that “user” is the perfect word. It focuses on the subject who will use the product you have developed.

The way we recognize the need for meaningful design and fully focus on people and their unique characteristics is design thinking.

Six main steps can be identified on the path to the formation of design thinking in the general sense in which it is understood in the design industry. I added one more step: DESIGN.

Is it possible to develop design thinking without design itself?

STEP 1: Empathy
The most important aspect of design thinking is empathy towards the user for whom you are developing your product. In practice, “showing empathy” means putting yourself in the user’s place: consider his desires, needs, goals, environment and pain points. The more you can learn about the user, the more effective your decision will be.

It is important to remember that the key to mastering empathy is never to make assumptions. Sometimes you may have to hypothesize users, but such hypotheses should always be supported by user research. So you are sure to create the right design for the right users.

design thinking

So how does this process look in practice? Let’s say you need to interview people who will use your product. In real life, researchers often conduct surveys among 10-30 people. During the survey, you need to get answers to the following questions:

Objectives: What does your user want to achieve?
Wishes: What does the user need? What would he like to have?
Needs: What can a user do without?
Environment: What is the environment / environment in which the user is located, and how could it influence the design?
Pain points: How can you make life easier for the user and make it more comfortable?
STEP 2: Problem Statement
Having a clear idea of ​​the user, you apply the knowledge gained, deeply immersed in his experiences and experience, to formulate the problem that you are going to solve. When it comes to setting goals, you should not think too broadly (otherwise the task will not be possible to solve) or too narrowly (otherwise your creativity and choice will be drastically reduced).

There is one great way in the design industry to help you develop the right understanding of the task.

“How can I do that”
The method is called “How might we” (or HMW for short) – literally translated from English as “how could we do this …” This method will help you turn the question into a practical task. In order for the method to bear fruit, you need to ask yourself: are you not too narrowly defined the task – so that it limits the choice? Or too wide – so much so that it is completely impossible to get close to it?

design thinking

Here is an example:

You are the owner of an online store that has many visits, but not a single person has ever clicked on the buy button. Therefore, you want to change its appearance so that it attracts more attention.

You designate the task: “How can this button be made blue?” – and now, your creative potential has been reduced to one solution: make the button blue.

And what about this task – “how can you redesign an online store?” This is a great task, but too broad to solve the current problem. After all, you need to improve the site, and not the whole industry (but the initiative is laudable!).

Here’s the best way to identify the question: “How can you attract the attention of more buyers to the buy button and increase sales?” Well, you can make this button bigger, repaint it in red, shade it in relief, make it “jump” on hover cursor on it, but whatever.

The example is not serious, but it shows how effective the HMW method is.

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