The design thinking process is actually just a result of focusing on the target user. And that’s something each person within every company should be doing. Design Thinking consists of five steps you should follow every time you’re working on a product-related issue. However, it’s more of a repeating cycle rather than a fixed-time thing. You’ll understand what I mean after I break down those five stages:
The first step is to understand your user. Try to fit into their shoes, so to speak. Before you come up with ideas on how to solve a problem or improve something, you need to understand the user’s perspective. The best way to do this is to gather data. You can set up simple analytics or use ads statistics to gather a quantitative view of who your users are. You can also read their feedback, conduct surveys or do interviews with them to gather more qualitative data and deeper insights. It’s not something you will do just once and forget about it. That’s why Design Thinking is more of a repeating cycle. Empathizing should be the starting point of each decision that you make regarding your product or business, so you need to be collecting data about your users all the time. This step will help you notice areas you can improve and the users’ needs.
Let’s say that you have gathered lots of insights from the previous stage and you seem to be losing users at some point in your product. They either abandon their basket, delete the app, don’t sign up etc. That’s how you define the problem. Think about what goes wrong during their journey with your product. Maybe the app downloaded too long? Maybe you didn’t offer Apple Pay or Google Pay at checkout? Set the users’ needs and issues side by side to see where they clash. If your users are busy, career-oriented people, they most likely look for speed, simplicity and smooth performance. Are you providing that? During this stage focus on finding key issues to focus on later. Trying to fix everything at once will not be as effective as it seems, because it will make it impossible to measure how each change impacts the users’ behaviour.
So you have chosen an issue to solve, now it’s time to come up with solutions. Many people focus too much on finding the ideal, perfect, one-size-fits-all solution and get stuck during this very stage of the process. It’s important to make quick decisions, implement them and test them and then work on improvements. When you get too deep into a single solution or a single issue, you’re just wasting time. That’s why UX Designers use specific methods and exercises during workshops to avoid distractions and confusion. And you can use them too. Below you will find a few techniques that will help you and your team during the ideation process:
Sometimes we seem to be stuck on a certain idea. And that stops us from thinking outside the box. That’s when the provocation technique will come in handy. It’s a great way to break out of a schematic way of thinking. The exercise works like this: you take a problem at hand and think up of unrealistic, crazy solutions. Something completely out of the blue. Don’t worry about whether it’s doable. The exercise is meant to push you outside of your comfort zone.
This one is like a brainstorm but much more calm and without the pressure. There’s no yelling and no chaos. Brainwriting is about giving each person a few cards and a pen as well as a set time limit to write down ideas. Then, you take them all and put them on a whiteboard to discuss and evaluate (this exercise can also be done online using a tool like Miro or MindMeister).
This method is particularly useful when it comes to visual issues. But it can also be helpful when it comes to deciding on a theme etc. Each participants gets an A4 piece of paper which they need to fold in half three times. This way the page gets divided into 8 boxes. Then, set the times for 8 minutes and let everyone fill in one box with one idea. The time limit and the amount of ideas to come up with usually lets people let loose a little and makes a lot of unexpected ideas come out.
After you’ve chosen the idea you think might solve the issue at hand, it’s time to prototype. Prototyping is another word that seems to be strongly tied to design and design only. But you don’t need to design a wireframe to do a proper prototype. It can be a presentation, paper cut outs or anything that will help you make others understand the concept. At most companies, you will need to discuss decisions with other people, so it’s important to know how to prepare a prototype or a simple visualization of your idea. It simply makes life easier.
The last step is to test your idea. After all, you’ll never know if you don’t try. First, focus on how to test the idea. Should you invite the users for an interview? Do an A/B test? Send out a survey? Then, decide how and what will you measure. It’s very important to measure your idea’s performance so that later you can actually see what’s working and what needs a little more work. Of course, the type of testing and how you measure it depends on what you need to validate and what issue are you trying to solve.
Testing methods you can use:
And after you’re done testing, you start again. Design Thinking is centred around one very important idea that there’s always room for improvements. And that’s how you should approach your work and everyday tasks whether you’re a designer, developer, account manager, project manager or a marketing specialist. You can read more about UX techniques in our new ebook – “How To Use UX Techniques For Your Product’s Success?“
If you’re looking for a team of experts on design thinking to help you build or improve your product – contact us for a free consultation with our team!