Design Thinking,is a set of tools, processes and mindsets, which enable people to solve unstructured or ill-structured problems. The first step in design thinking is to understand the challenge from the point of view of the user by immersing in the user’s shoes and environment. Keeping the user to the core of everything is referred to as Human-centered design.
According to Don Norman, the director of The Design Lab at University of California, San Diego, a human-centered design process starts with a good understanding of people and the needs that the design is intended to meet. In order to design better,we need to decode what our user’s need are.
Beginning with the User in mind
It is important to empathize with users, and we should always try to adopt the mindset of a beginner. What this means is that, as designers (or design thinkers), we should always do our best to leave our own assumptions behind when making observations.
The very first step in achieving this kind of success is through empathy. Empathy is simply understanding another person so well, that you ‘feel their pain’. Understanding your customer’s pain points is worth it.
HowDesign Thinking helped disrupters like Netflix & Airbnb
For Netflix, they constantly studied their audience and made changes accordingly. For a service that caters to a wide range of people, to have a platform that feels so personal to each viewer, shows that great care has been taken to get to know their audience. Empathizing with the people that are using your products or services, is the first step in design, though this process is taxing, the results are equally rewarding.
Other success stories of brands that took their time and effort to understand customers, are Airbnb – whose founders went house-to-house to take pictures of their hosts’ homes in the early years of its inception.Also, the Bank of America’s ‘Keep the Change’ program, which rounds up cents to the nearest dollar, every time the customer spends. This innovative solution was discovered during IDEO’s (Bank of America hired the agency) brainstorming sessions onthe customer patterns/preferences.
Design Thinking is beyond creating just products & services
Design Thinking is not only applicable while creating diﬀerentiated products, services, and strategies, but also while reimagining the future of progressive countries like Singapore. Its Prime Minister’s quote, “Good design thinking was a key reason for Singapore’s successful journey from the third world country to first, and it will be crucial in reimagining Singapore for the next 50 years or more,” is fitting & timely. They also followed the design thinking approach for delivering a human-centered solution for foreign workers and their employers.
Another great example in governance would be the US tax forms. When the government hired a design consultancy to improve and simplify the tax form by adopting an empathic approach that aimed to simplify the tax return process, they ended up with a much-improved tax form.The team recommended the creation of a medium size tax form to make life simpler for taxpayers, who were not qualified for the short form, but found the long form cumbersome.
Design Thinking is a necessary-default across problem scenarios
The magic of design thinking doesn’t end here,design thinkers are helping engineers in building smart cities. They are actually giving it a more human touch by asking the end-users “what matters to you in the city?In the home? What does ‘quality of life’ mean to you?” Design thinkers are mapping the connections among self-driving cars, motion-activated street lights, and small-scale, distributed-energy smart grids.Designthinkers are working along with engineers to explore how innovation for a particular room in a residence might scale up to the city, and how advanced interventions in the infrastructure of a smart city might scale down to the residence.
The examples mentioned above are enough to admit that the design thinking approach is valuable, and actually solving real life human-centric problems. The process of design thinking is non-linear and at times it can seem confusing and complex, but the basic phases allow for continuous iteration and adaptability to the challenge at hand.As you make your way through the ﬁnal phases, you will start to see how through continuous iteration (prototyping, testing and implementing feedback) you get closer to ﬁnding the right solutions for your challenges.
The most valuable part of design thinking, someone quoted, is that once you realize you can achieve one goal, you gain momentum toward achieving the next one. In other words, it becomes an “achievement habit”.
Someone aptly quoted,“A good design shows respect for the customer, to their time or to what they desire. If a company or an individual can incorporate design thinking that keeps solving slivers of problems, working towards a larger goal, they will create something remarkable”. It goes without saying that Design Thinking- apart from being a beautiful art for problem solving – is also a way of life.