You may have already heard about Design Thinking. You might not. Chances are you know some companies that are using it.

Tesla, Apple, Netflix, and Amazon Prime have all adopted it. In the words of Steve Jobs:

It is not the customers’ job to know what they want” – Steve Jobs.

In other words, in order to be successful, companies need to figure out what their customers want, before they know it themselves.

And this is exactly what your company needs to do too.

So, let’s dive into design thinking. What is it exactly? How can you take advantage of it?

Design Thinking is a design methodology, of 5 stages, that enables companies to identify and meet their customers’ needs. With Design Thinking, companies have the opportunity to create products and services that solve their customers’ problems. So what are the 5 steps?

  • Empathise. This first stage of the process is key. You need to understand the people you are designing for in order to offer them the right product or service. In fact, without an empathetic understanding of your customer, you will design products you think they need, instead of what they really need. During the empathise phase, you’ll work on figuring out your customers’ motivations, fears, expectations, emotions and needs. To get a comprehensive understanding of your customer, use both quantitative and qualitative customer research methods such as surveys, focus groups, interviews, field trials and online data. By the end of this stage, make sure you can see the world through your customers’ eyes.
  • Define. This stage involves defining the problem your users face. Using the information you have gathered about them during the previous stage, you’ll be able to define the problem you will focus on solving.
  • Ideate. Now that your customers’ core problem has been identified, generate many ideas aiming at solving it. Innovation requires creativity, so don’t limit yourself here, and think outside the box. Here are some ideation techniques that will help you be creative: SCAMPER, brainstorming, brainwriting, SWOT, Lotus blossom diagram.
  • Prototype. At this stage, select your best ideas and get them down on paper. A prototype can be anything that takes a physical form. The complexity of the prototypes should correlate with the progress of the project. Prototyping methods can be classified into two categories: low- and high-fidelity prototyping. Low-fidelity prototypes are easily-made cheap models, or simply visualisations of them. Such models might be incomplete and constructed using interim materials such as wood, paper and plastic. Conversely, high-fidelity prototypes look and operate closer to the finished versions. Amongst other mediums, you can prototype with sketches, paper interfaces, storyboarding, LEGO and 3D printing to name a few.
  • Test. In this phase, you will share the prototypes you’ve created with the users. By doing so, you’ll discover how well your prototypes meet their needs. You can subsequently modify your prototype based on user feedback. Continue with testing and prototyping until your users are satisfied with the innovation and the way it solves their problem.

Following this cyclical 5 stage-process will allow you to create products and services your customers really need and will crave for. Post-launch, remember to listen to customers’ feedback in order to continuously improve their experience and blaze an innovation trail.

If you want to know more about design thinking, or how it could help your business, email hello@makehappy.co.uk