Design Thinking 101 or Moving Forward with Your Project

A project log for 2020 HDP Dream Team: UCPLA

The 2020 HDP Dream Teams are participating in a two month engineering sprint to address their nonprofit partner. Follow their journey here.

nataliekosminanataliekosmina 07/13/2020 at 14:390 Comments

In this post we will discuss what is design thinking and why it is so important when you want to build a successful product. These materials are based on the IDEO workshops, books and other literature and this blog post.

If you were to take away one message from this post it is the following - do not start solving your problem with your existing tech, never ever. Do not try to do "technology-first". It is "user-first" if you want to succeed. ALWAYS think about your user first and their needs, not your needs and availabilities of the existing tools.

All this is especially relevant when you are a part of a design sprint.

Image taken from this post here. Another excellent resource on design thinking and the mindset.

As per IDEO, design thinking can be described as "a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” Design thinking refers to cognitive, strategic and practical processes, with the final goal of which is to come up with innovative problems solving and the solutions to address a problem or meet a customer need. It is often applied to areas which are not traditionally defined as requiring design.

There are five different stages of design thinking:

1. Empathise

This is the first stage of design thinking aimed at understanding needs, requirements and objectives. Everything starts with observing and engaging with people to understand in order to build a connection at a psychological and emotional level. This stage involves setting aside assumptions and gathering actual preferences/or actionable insights about ACTUAL users.

2. Define

The second stage in the design thinking process is all about defining the actual problem. In this phase, all the information is gathered from the findings in the empathy stage and making sense.

End of the define phase will help to build a clear problem statement in a user-centered way. Once the problem is put into words, only then can we come up with solutions and ideas — which brings us to the next stage.

3. Ideate

With solid research of user needs and problem statement, it is about time to begin with design thinking process working on potential solutions. This is the phase revolving around creativity and ideation. This stage will be about holding ideation session, exploring new ideas, and brainstorming. The end of this phase will help come up with strong ideas to embark upon further.

4. Prototype

This is phase where we can get experimental and transform ideas into products. Prototyping phase is developing a mini version of the product which also uses solutions identified in previous stages. This step is all about validating solutions identified, highlight any limitations or obstacles. Throughout the stage of prototyping, the proposed solutions may be established, enhanced, revamped or rejected depending on how they work in prototype form.

5. Test

After the stage of prototyping comes rigorous testing, but it’s worth noting that this is not the end of the design thinking process. In reality, the results of the testing phase will often push you back to introspect the steps crossed before, providing actionable insights to redefine the original problem statement or to come up with new ideas you hadn’t crossed your mind before.

Iterative and Non-linear Process

Design Thinking is an iterative process. It is all about constantly questioning the known to help define a problem as well as identify suitable alternative strategies that might not be visible based on basic level of understanding. With this outside of box thinking, designers are attempting to develop new ways of thinking that defies challenges which are geared towards problem-solving methods.