Simple Steps to Design Thinking

Design Thinking isn’t a new idea, it’s been practiced for a long time. For example, bridges, monuments, automobiles, subway systems are all end-products of design processes. Great designers have applied a human-centric creative process to build meaningful and effective solutions. The Design Thinking frameworks follows three distinct areas 1) Understand, 2) Explore, and 3) Materialize. Within each area there are 2 phases with a total of 6 distinct phases, as defined and illustrated below.

Empathize. Do research to discover what our users do, say, think, and feel. Empathy is crucial, you set aside your own assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into users and their needs.

Define. Combine the research with observations of where your users’ problems exists. When you analyze the users’ needs, begin to highlight opportunities for innovation.

Ideate. Brainstorm a wide range of crazy, creative ideas that address the unmet user needs identified in the Define phase. Whiteboarding and sketching are great tools for this phase. Think outside the box to identify new solutions to the user problem that has been identified.

Prototype. The goal of this phase is to understand what components of your ideas tactile. This should be done inexpensively with a prototype or a wireframe.

Test. Return to your users for feedback. Put your prototype in front of real users and verify that it achieves your goals. Has the user’s perspective during onboarding improved? The results generated during the testing phase are what you will often use to redefine one or more problems.

Implement. Put the vision into effect. Ensure that your solution is materialized and touches the lives of your end user. As Don Norman tells us, “we need more design doing.” Design Thinking isn’t a quick fix from actual design doing. Milton Glaser’s words ring a bell: “There’s no such thing as a creative type. As if creativity is a verb, a very time-consuming verb. It’s about taking an idea in your head, and transforming that idea into something real. And that’s always going to be a long and difficult process. If you’re doing it right, it’s going to feel like work.”