In the modern era of new methodologies, ways of working and strategic thinking, there is one approach that particularly stands out; design thinking. Design thinking can change the way businesses create products and services for their customers which results with increased revenue and profits when executed well.
It’s a way of thinking and an approach that, unlike others, is centred around consumer-first behaviour. Too often, businesses can be guilty of designing solutions that work for them and their capabilities, without considering the wants and needs of a consumer.
Design thinking can change all of that.
In this short guide, we’ll break down what design thinking is, why you should consider implementing consumer-first design into your business and how to apply design thinking in practice. Let’s get started.
What is Design Thinking?
So, what is design thinking? Design thinking is a unique way of approaching design; putting the customer at the forefront of the solution. Created so that designers and businesses took a more in-depth look at how their customers make a purchase, design thinking deep dives into the customers pain points, the reasons why they use a particular product or service, and how new solutions can be designed to solve both of these for the customer.
Traditional design methods were based on ideas like adding more features or doing different flavours, many of which failed to resonate with the customer. Design thinking avoids this pitfall by involving the customer in the design process. It’s an iterative process where at each key stage you check back with your customer to ensure the design is what they expect it to be. This approach in essence becomes all about experimentation and trying to identify the solution that will solve your customers’ challenges.
Why is it important?
The old method of adding more features or new flavours, without user testing, hasn’t worked for some time. The primary reason behind that is that consumers no longer want another option, they want the option they’ve chosen to do what they need to get done.
Customers aren’t interested in the 5 newly added features if the original set of features and the reason why they first purchased the item does not solve their challenges. Adding more simply covers up the fact the original features don’t solve anyone’s challenges.
A classic example of this would be the international eCommerce content management system, BigCommerce. While constantly adding new features and cool integrations, there are hundreds and hundreds of feature requests for the ability to manage BigCommerce product categories via CSV file. Dating all the way back to 5 years ago, BigCommerce still has not implemented this feature (while implementing dozens of others) which has left many customers very frustrated.
As a result, a third party provider has now seen this gap in the market and built their own plugin; taking business away from BigCommerce. Had BigCommerce adopted a design thinking approach to future upgrades, many customers would be much more satisfied with the product.
Instead of living in the negative vacuum of “we know best’’, design thinking provides a new perspective. Bring the customer in, understand their challenges and change the original design.
This is incredibly important because without the customer how can we ever seek to know what the solution needs to be? Now,many of you may be thinking that customers don’t always know what they want, which is true.
That’s why design thinking is so important you deliver iterative prototypes that give the customer a sense of the solution. This is critically important to ensure at multiple checkpoints the customer can provide feedback to improve the design. Not all suggestions will be gold dust, however, they will offer more insight and that’s why design thinking is so important.
How to apply design thinking
Bringing design thinking into your business requires a number of key changes, the first and most obvious being bringing the customer in. Don’t be afraid to invite customers along to design workshops, or to provide feedback to your teams.
Creating connections between the customer and the designers or solution architects means you will get more direct feedback. There are 5 key phases to applying design thinking:
This means putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and trying to envisage what problem they are looking to solve. This level of empathy means designing solutions becomes that much simpler.
Define the problem, challenge or solution you’re trying to design. This needs to be clear enough that the team can build the solution or at least deliver some value for the customer to review.
Take the time to come up with as many unique, weird or crazy ideas as you can to solve this issue for the customer.
One of the most important stages of application, make something that customers can see if their hands, feel how it makes them feel and understand the possibilities.
Now put it in the hands of your actual customers to see what they are thinking. Asking probing questions will always help get the best test of your new prototype.
Design thinking is a unique approach to better understanding the customer, their needs and the challenges of your product or service in meeting those needs. It introduces the customer to the process and encourages designers to look beyond the simple and think bigger. Iterative delivery means the whole journey to the end will have customer feedback to it. This is critical to businesses that don’t have the power to simply pivot and move on to new products or services. Show the customers you hear them by using design thinking and its process steps now.