Creative problems need creative solutions. Design thinking is a set of tools, processes, philosophies by which design concepts or refined with problem-solving creatively. The approach encompasses multiple aspects such as understanding the human perspective, challenging assumptions, redefining the problem, and crafting innovative solutions to prototypes. All the creative fields involving a range of products have to adapt and use this ideology, for efficient output. Design thinking focuses on the human perspective to formulate a human-centred solution to creative problems. As in the case of an innovative arena, every designer/curator does it differently. Design thinking is a solution-based approach to unique problem-solving and is also extremely user (human) centric. The first and foremost criteria for driving up to answer is seeking people’s needs and ways to fulfil them. It often simplifies an unknown or ill tackled Problem, in a stage-wise manner. the stages are interconnected and interrelated and can be jumped on the back and forth or even repeated/revised at times.
Design thinking involves five phases not linear necessarily, might even run parallel or out of sequence.
Stage One: Empathize: Know the Need of the User
Empathy is the starting point of the design thinking process. It is where the designers grasp the actual needs, wants, and objectives of the user. Crucial in nature, the stage requires engagement with the people to get an insight into their psychological and emotional levels. It is required that the team/observer set aside the drafted assumptions and get the real scenario of situations/circumstances through human-centred lenses. At this stage, it is required that the creator becomes aware of user needs/behaviours, which might be unarticulated. What the product/design will evoke in the audience with also being learned about the user in action.
Stage Two: Define: Defining the User Needs
After empathizing with people, there is a very important step where you will get a clear overall picture of the problem, you will be solving for the people. Turning empathy into an actionable problem statement by consolidating the findings of the former stage. This stage is essential for the aim to be on the right track and stay focused. It seeks to address a clear description of the issue in concern to keep the target on the user at every stage. These might be in varied forms or perspective but has the same issue in consideration. The statement should always focus on the user, be broad with the scope of changes or alterations, and should also be manageable
Stage Three: Ideate: Create Solutions
This is the face in design thinking where all the creativity happens. A designer is free to think of solutions, out-of-the-box after having abundant insight into user needs and a well-defined problem statement from the early stages. At this face, you look for alternative innovative ways out for the issue. The statement can be viewed through different angles and multiple techniques can be used, to explore new options and viewpoints. Ranging from brainstorming to mind mapping or reverse thinking a designer will innovate numerous ideas which might breakthrough or make their way to reject pile. By the end of this phase, you will narrow down to a handful of ideas to move ahead with.
Stage Four: Prototype: Investigate the Solution.
The prototype is the experimental stage of the design thinking process to find out the best possible solution. You need to prepare a scaled-down version of your solution product or maybe a sample version. Before the product or design comes into the actual market or to its actual use it is necessary to see any usability issue, design flaws, and how a user will interact or react to it. A well-informed design upscale is the credibility and is economically beneficial. Prototypes might vary in form, shape, or cycle but is efficient to refine and rework on the product before making it market-ready.
Stage Five: Testing: Trying Out the Solution
User interaction with the product is very different from how they might be surveyed to be and this is revealed in this stage of design thinking. Though this is the last phase rarely is the end, it might pull you back to the earlier stages and familiarize you with solutions you might have skipped or did not give a thought to. It is required to check where the prototype succeeds and where are the loopholes. Targeting users to have a dialogue with the prototype gives pointers to rework on saving time and money with also improving user satisfaction.
Principles of design thinking
The Human Rule: The whole process is very human-centric and independent of the context; all the design processes are social. All the innovation happens around human characteristics.
The Ambiguity Rule: The form of the product should be open to interpretation. Different angles and necessary to get the best possible solution. Experimenting to craft innovation with a unique perspective should always be welcomed.
The redesigned rule: Human tendencies/needs/reactions remain and changed. All these practices are to fulfil these needs as we are only redesigning the means to satisfy them. So, all the designs are redesign.
The Tangibility Rule: Making tangible prototypes helps designers to communicate efficiently. With having economic benefits, the prototype experimentation also helps in realizing which aspect of the idea works and which doesn’t.
Purpose of Design Thinking
Design thinking is a process and ideology, which can be applied in any field, it does not have to be designed related necessarily. We designed for humans and the processes help build empathy towards them. It fosters creativity and innovation, leaving room for uniqueness and alternative solutions. The cycle doesn’t rely on set assumptions but challenges them. Any craft formed out of this philosophy is always backed with human experiences and knowledge gained in the early stages of the process. Design thinking is the right mix of emotion and intuition with signs, analysis, and data. It never realizes on only one face as designing for humans is complex. It also puts humans in focus and encourages designers to consider the real subject. Creating a healthy middle ground for problem-solving for both parties. Design thinking makes tons of sense when the market floods for choices, the whole procedure makes the designs stand out.
Anon, 2021. Design thinking. Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_thinking [Accessed September 30, 2021].
Anon, What is design thinking? The Interaction Design Foundation. Available at: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/design-thinking [Accessed September 30, 2021].
Anon, 2021. Design thinking tools: How to use them to solve complex problems. MJV Technology & Innovation. Available at: https://www.mjvinnovation.com/blog/design-thinking-tools/ [Accessed September 30, 2021].