The Design Thinking Process is a human-centred approach with a primary focus on empathy to uncover deep needs and insights of users to build an accurate mindset when considering possible solutions. The approach takes an individual or team through a phase of understanding, exploring and then materializing one or two of the solutions for testing. The steps are not linear and can occur simultaneously and be repeated.
“To create meaningful innovations, you need to know your users and care about their lives.”
Empathize is taking the time to understand people, the way they do things and why, their physical and emotional needs, how they think about the world, and what is meaningful to them.
Questions: Who is the user? What matters to this person? How does this feature fit into their lives? What motivates or discourages users? Where do they experience frustration?
Tactics: User interviews, personas, customer journey maps, the 5 W’s (and H), empathy maps
“Framing the right problem is the only way to create the right solution.”
Define is the synthesis of the information you’ve gathered to determine a meaningful, actionable problem statement or point of view. It will serve as the north star for our team as we approach the challenge.
Helpful Questions: What are the problems this project attempts to solve? What do we want to achieve? How will we know if we’re successful?
Tactics: Project brief, point of view, goals, user testing existing experience (pain points), stakeholder/expert interviews, KPIs
“It’s not about coming up with the ‘right’ idea, and it’s about generating the broadest range of possibilities.”
Ideate is the time to generate as many ideas as possible. We will diverge with the team, which will provide both the fuel and the source material for building prototypes and getting possible solutions in the hands of users.
Helpful Questions: What are the ideas? What are possible solutions?
Tactics: Brainstorm, competitive and comparative analysis, body storm, mindmaps, sketching, storyboard
“Build to think and test to learn.”
Prototype is a tangible representation of an idea or possible solution. In the early stages, design in low-resolution (fail quickly and cheaply), but high enough that will communicate the idea to someone and allow them to interact with it.
Helpful Questions: How can the ideas be represented? What needs to be created in order to test with users?
Tactics: Digital wireframes, physical materials, rapid prototyping
“Testing is an opportunity to learn about your solution and your user.”
Test is a solicitation of feedback on the prototypes created from users where you will have another opportunity to gain empathy and understanding of the people you’re designing for. With feedback, you are able to revisit any of the steps to further refine (and iterate on) a prototype before moving into high-fidelity mocks.
Helpful Questions: What are users telling us that we can further iterate on? What went well? Where did users have difficulty?
Tactics: Usability testing
“We need more design doing.”
Implementation is taking an idea in your head and transforming that idea into something real and usable by users. As impactful as design thinking can be for an organization, it only leads to true innovation if the vision is executed. The success of design thinking lies in its ability to transform an aspect of the end user’s life, and is arguably the most important step.
Helpful Questions: How do we materialize the solution?
Tactics: High-fidelity mocks, specifications to engineering
“Product Design, a Roadmap to MVP”
“5 Stages in the Design Thinking Process”
“What is Design Thinking?”