Design and strategy, historically, have been kept exclusively separate. Even though they both answer to the same end goal. Design thinking appropriately puts these two processes together by focusing on the experience of the user and address their needs directly.
Rather than using historical data to make decisions, design thinking is a future-focused process used to identify the future needs of consumers. The process encompasses a few different phases focusing around a problem space, and in each phase we assess a large amount of data and trim the fat until we have a proper solution.
PHASE ONE: RESEARCH + SYNTHESIS
Large amount of research -> Small amount of problems to tackle
In this phase, we speak with the client to discover their problem space. We then conduct research and gather user testimonies to form a broad and clear understanding of a problem space from the eyes of the end user. In that way, our design can be focused on improving the user experience and address issues straight from the horse’s mouth. The wider the net and the better you know your users, the more likely you are to find insights leading to fantastic solutions.
PHASE TWO: IDEATION + PROTOTYPING
Large amount of possible solutions -> Small amount of viable solutions
Next we make connections between the information we have gathered from our users to possible scenarios to address the problem space. Ideation is the fun phase, where no idea is too silly to explore. Keeping your research in mind, write down each idea on a post-it note. Create an exhaustive wall of post-its and then add a few more. Expand possible solutions to a point where they cannot be expanded upon any longer.
Now it’s time to trim the fat again. Which ideas have some meat to them? Which can be tested quickly? You might find two complementary ideas that come together to create a wider-reaching solution. Pare them down and create some quick prototypes. On to the next phase!
PHASE THREE: TESTING + IMPLEMENTATION
Large amount of user testing -> Small amount of successful implementations
Test these ideas with end users. At this stage, your ideas should be relatively unrefined and definitely a bit rough around the edges. Think of this as beta-testing; it won’t be perfect, but it will get the point across as well as quickly rule out ineffective solutions.
If an idea didn’t work quite right, make some adjustments and test again. This might be as simple as moving a button elsewhere within the UI to better align with the path the user’s eyes take across the page. The best results come from messy but effective prototypes.
The final step, of course, is implementation. You’re ready to polish up your design once it directly addresses the problem space and yields measurable results. You can finally pull everything together and put out into the world, but with a little less guessing and checking about whether it will be effective.