You’ve probably already read about the psychology of colors or how user experience can make or break your website. You’re also probably learning about various digital marketing disciplines and how it can help you grow your web design business. But, have you heard of Design Thinking?
What is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is commonly defined as a design methodology that provides a solution-based and human-centered approach to solving problems. It is an iterative process that aims to understand the user, challenge initial understanding of the problem, and redefine it to identify alternative and less-obvious strategies and solutions
Several variants of the Design Thinking process have already emerged since Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon first discussed it lengthily in his book “The Sciences of the Artificial” in 1969. Although these variants differ in number of stages, they still largely embody the fundamental principles first outlined by Simon.
The Five-Stage Model
As mentioned, there are multiple versions of Design Thinking. For this article, we will discuss the five-stage model as it was proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, the leading institution in Design Thinking.
Here’s a run through of the Five Stages:
Design Thinking is a holistic and empathic approach to the problems that people face. This stage involves engaging and putting yourself in the shoes of the people whose’ problems you are trying to solve. Immersing in both the head space and physical environment of the target users is necessary for a better and more personal grasp of their experiences, needs, issues and motivations.
- Define (the Problem)
The next step is to analyse and synthesize the data gleaned from the previous stage to identify and clearly define the core problem. Keep in mind that the aim is to come up with a problem statement that is human-centered. Instead of looking at the problem as a question of how to hit the business goal, re-angle it into how the product can address the issues needs of the target user.
This phase is where ideas are generated. It is essential for your team to contribute various solutions all of which looking beyond the obvious answers. Remember the goal is to generate alternative and innovative ways of addressing the problem. The more ideas are generated, the better chances of getting the best possible solution.
Now it’s time to implement your team’s best ideas into a number of prototypes. These prototypes are evaluated, rejected or accepted, improved and re-examined based on the users’ experience. This stage should give the team more in-depth insights on how actual users feel, think, and interact with the end product.
The complete product undergoes meticulous tests using the best solutions previously zeroed in during the prototyping phase. Although this is the final stage, it is important to note that this is an iterative process. Meaning, the results reaped during the testing phase may require you to do the previous stages again in order to implement the best possible solution when altering and refining the final product.
Benefits of Design Thinking
- It’s human-centered.
In contrast with the Scientific Method which discounts users’ emotional input and relies solely on quantitative data, Design Thinking empathizes with the people for whom the products and services are designed for. It takes into consideration the users’ emotional state, as well as their explicit and implicit needs. This approach ensures that the product addresses the problem at not just the eye-level but at a deeper emotional level.
- It minimizes uncertainties and risks.
Design Thinking narrows downs the risks because it considers a wide range of potential solutions throughout its expansive and iterative process of reframing the problem, solution brainstorming, and hands-on prototyping and testing.
- It’s solution-focused.
Design Thinking makes sure that it finds the best solution possible by creating several prototypes in which several ideas/solutions are implemented and assessed. Likewise, the complete product –which are already optimized with the best solutions, are continued to be rigorously tested. This thorough approach guarantees that the product hits the mark and continues to do so overtime.
Why Adopt Design Thinking for your Web Design Business
Adopting Design Thinking for your web design venture should be a no-brainer. As a designer and business owner, you want more than just to deliver amazing web design to your clients.
Beyond creating visually stunning design, you want to provide flawless user-experience, and you want to achieve that through whatever strategy is technologically feasible and economically viable.
Design Thinking adapted as a business strategy fits that bill. After all, Design Thinking has transcended from what has been merely a methodology employed by designers into that of a strategy enterprises swear can convert into customer value and market opportunity.
The success rate for innovation of companies such as Apple, Coca-Cola, and IBM’s has skyrocketed when they applied design principles to strategy. In fact, the Design Management Institute’s assessment of these companies revealed that they have outperformed the S&P 500 over the past 10 years by a whopping 219%.
Who doesn’t like those digits for their business? We’re positive you do. If we’re right, then be prepared to switch it up and adapt the designer’s sensibility and methods into your business strategy.