Design Thinking is a method designers use in ideation and development, that also has applications elsewhere. The method describes a human-centered, iterative design process consisting of 5 steps—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. Design thinking is useful in tackling problems that are not properly-defined or unknown.
The first stage of the Design Thinking process demands gaining an empathic understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve, typically through some form of user research. Empathy is crucial because it allows you to set aside your own assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into users and their needs. This stage involves entering the realm of the users and, as far as possible, “becoming” them so as to begin work on custom-designing a solution.
During the Define stage of Design Thinking, you put together the information you have created and gathered during the Empathize stage. You analyze your observations and synthesize them in order to define the core problems you and your team have identified so far. This is where you ensure that what you are addressing sits in sharp relief before you, its properties known in full.
The process’s third stage finds you ready to start generating ideas. With the knowledge you have gathered in the first two phases, you can start to “think outside the box” to identify new solutions to the problem statement you’ve created, and you can start to look for alternative ways of viewing the problem.
In the Prototype phase of Design Thinking, your design team produce a number of inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the product or specific features found within the product so you can investigate the problem solutions generated in the previous stage.
In the Test phase of Design Thinking, you rigorously test the completed product using the best solutions identified during the prototyping phase. This is the final stage; however, in an iterative process, the results generated during the testing phase are what you will often use to redefine one or more problems.
With Design Thinking, bringing designs to life is a circuitous journey of many discoveries. Moving forward on the right track involves taking several steps backwards, several times