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BlogSolving Problems with Design Thinking: Emphasising Empathy, Experimentation, and Collaboration

Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Emphasising Empathy, Experimentation, and Collaboration

How important is the design of a product or service? In one word: very. The quality of our experience as users depends on the work of designers, as that is what will mark if we have a positive interaction with the product/service or if it ends up being a frustrating experience that draws us away from it.

Let’s learn more about the definition of design thinking and its most important process steps and techniques. 

Design thinking is an approach referring to the creation of a product or service that focuses on the needs and pain points of users. The primary goal of design thinking is to provide the best user experience possible. Thanks to its innovative nature, design thinking does not apply solely to product design. In fact, design thinking can be applied in different contexts, such as social impact. 

This approach relies on a set of principles that help you achieve the best solutions:

  • Empathy
  • User-centricity
  • Creativity
  • Experimentation
  • Collaboration
  • Iteration

As for the process of design thinking, we can sum it up in six essential steps:

  • Empathise
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test
  • Implement

Design thinking is vital in developing any product or service because it improves the user experience, which draws more customers to your business. Furthermore, it encourages the search for innovative and creative approaches to problem-solving, making you unique, and helps reduce the risk of failure by implementing regular testing based on customer feedback.

What about Empathy? Empathy is both a principle and a step of the process because it plays a vital role in design thinking. It allows designers to understand the needs, preferences and even behaviours of customers. That helps them design a product that makes sense to the users and is, thus, useful to them. 

Some ways in which designers can empathise with users and gain knowledge about them is by observing their interaction with a product or service in their natural environment, conducting interviews, performing surveys, and blending in with the users by working or living with them for some time. 

Defining the problem is what will guide the designers towards the best solutions. Failing to address this step increases the risk of wasting resources on irrelevant solutions that do not fix critical user pain points. 

To identify the problem, designers rely on user research to collect information on user needs and pain points and problem-framing to try and identify the root cause of the issue. 

Stakeholder analysis is another strategy designers employ. It provides data not only about the user but also about the employees, suppliers, and investors. Meeting the expectations of the broader community creates a positive impact and helps ensure the success of the product or service. 

After collecting data from everyone involved in the product or service development, designers present the problem they are trying to solve in problem statements and then create a design brief containing a framework for the design solutions.

Ideation is essential, as it is the process of generating innovative ideas for solving problems in the context of design thinking. That can be achieved by assembling a group and sharing every idea that comes (traditional brainstorming), having each group member share an idea and the rest of the team provides feedback and builds on it (round-robin brainstorming), or generating problems rather than solutions to identify potential challenges (reverse brainstorming).

Besides brainstorming techniques, you can also employ mind mapping, in which you pick a central theme or idea and develop other related ideas to generate more solutions, or the SCAMPER technique – Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate and Reverse – that consists of taking an existing idea and adding new concepts that slightly change it to generate new ideas. 

In the end, you select the best ideas and refine them into actionable solutions. 

Design thinking is a thought process that helps designers generate ideas. It is set on empathising with the users and combines a user-centric approach with innovation, experimentation and collaboration. Apply design thinking techniques to optimise the design of your product with the help of experts from a UX design agency and ensure your customers get the best user experience.

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