Design Thinking is more than just a system, or series of steps for designers – it is an ideology that anyone can apply to almost any problem.
The need for a structured, design-first process emerged in the early 1900’s when companies started to put their designers at the start of construction processes, and allowed them to consider their users’ needs before engineers started building products. Companies that started to implement user-centred design techniques saw huge success and financial reward, as a direct result of happy customers.
Design Thinking as a process was coined in the early 1990’s by David Kelley and Tim Brown of IDEO. Since then, IDEO have continued to aggressively refine and test their methodology, bringing them 346 design awards since 1991 and over 1,000 patents. They’ve created user-centred solutions for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Procter & Gamble, HBO, Kodak, Pepsi Co, and Shimano. At the core of their success sit the Design Thinking principles, which are what make IDEO *the* go-to firm in America for innovation and user-centred design, and are an integral part of our own process here at Pocketworks.
Design Thinking is not just about achieving user-focused designs or accurate data; it is as much about the approach to solving the problem as the problem itself. It shifts the focus to put the end user in the role of Expert. This one simple act – of prioritising users at every step of design – has a knock-on effect, as all data must be collected from users, about users, and in the context of real use cases. Subsequently, any artefacts you take back to users for testing will already be ticking some of their boxes.
Innovation is built into Design Thinking from the start, as it encourages the exploration of various radical approaches to a single problem, and utilises user responses to hone a crafted solution. By taking multiple possibilities to your users to test, you drill deeper into their needs and wants, catch edge cases before they catch you, and pick up on things they didn’t even know they needed. Adopted company-wide, it facilitates team collaboration, and maximises collective knowledge, giving everyone the opportunity to suggest approaches and iterating on the results.
When we pick up a project, our immediate focus is on who your users are: what problems do they face, and how can we solve them? In taking a Design Thinking approach to your problems, we make sure that we (and you) are putting your customers first, which is all the more vital in the age of social media, viral stories and bad PR.
To read more on Design Thinking follow these links – don’t just take it from us!