Tim Brown defined design Thinking as an ‘innovation powered by a thorough understanding, through direct observation, of what people want and need in their lives and what they like or dislike about the way particular products are made, packaged, marketed, sold, and supported.’ Design Thinking is a process of five steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. The process is never-ending because it is always possible to improve the product. The process is not in a specific order; designers will go, for example, back from step three to step one.
The first step in the designing process is based on doing a lot of research. We start to look at the main problem and hopefully find out what the causes are because we prefer preventing the problem over solving the problem. If we can not prevent the problem, we as designers have to find a solution to which people have a great advantage. Jesse James Garrett, User experience designer, said: “User-centered design means understanding what your users need, how they think, and how they behave – and incorporating that understanding into every aspect of your process.” Assumptions and prejudices must not influence this part of the process. Listen to others, read articles or books about the subject, and inform yourself. Observe the products made through others and learn from their mistakes.
After all information has been collected, it is merged in this step. The data is analyzed, and the core problem is defined. According to Tim Brown, ‘ Design thinking gives us a new way of tackling issues.’ We encourage thinking differently, we will think of new solutions, and going on in this direction before eliminating the three best ideas and then choose the best one. ‘But before we go through that process of divergence, there is quite an essential first step. And that is, what is the question that we’re trying to answer?‘ Because if we define the wrong question and succeed in answering it, it is a waste of time. Besides, other items are considered that are related to the most crucial issue. What is the cause of the problem? Can we prevent the problem? What makes the problem so complicated? What solutions have we used in the past? And why were these not good as a solution? After all these questions are answered, we have gathered more information, which makes it even easier to understand the issue and the context.
Once the problem has been analyzed and defined, the next step is ideate. As many ideas as possible are devised, there is no right or wrong idea. It is necessary to think outside the box; it is about thinking about what you have not thought about before. Everyone can give feedback. It is about quantity instead of quality. First, as many ideas as possible are thought up by everyone, and then the ideas are compared, and the best idea is chosen.
The best idea was then selected, and simple versions of the concept were made from paper or other cheap materials. In this way, the idea can be further tested and get rid of some unnecessary. For example, it can already be looked at whether it could work or whether it might need some changes. This step in the design thinking process is mainly trial and error; if it doesn’t work, we will not use this solution. For example, Ed Catmull says: “It’s not enough to pick a path — you must go down it. By doing so, you see things you couldn’t possibly see when you started; you may not like what you see, some of it may be confusing, but at least you will have, as we like to say, “explored the neighborhood.” In this quote, he says that you, as a designer, have to try your designs before you know if your product is valuable for the user. He emphasizes that even when the product is not yet what you expected, you still have time to improve it. All the time that you have spend is not wasted.
A final test is needed to bring a successful product to the market. The product is made and tested in a small amount; a small group of people will use the product and give the designers a look in their mind by telling them exactly what they think. This feedback is essential to the designer, and needs to be honest. The Design Thinking process is not linear and never ends, so this final version is again critically examined. The problem is defined more precisely than in the first instance, and the solution is adjusted accordingly. Because all steps are repeated more often, much can be learned when creating a product. This ensures that you gain more experience and that the process runs smoother next time. Failure makes us better; we have to learn by looking at our mistakes. But we do not want to become insecure, it is okay to fail, and we have to accept that, without failure, your product is never going to be the best version of itself. “Fail often so you can succeed sooner,” said Tom Kelley, Author and General Manager, IDEO.
To make a long story short, the design thinking process consists of five steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. After the users’ feedback, we will go back to one of the phases; this can be any phase. Before I learned this, I thought the process would go much smoother, but it turns out that even the best designers have trouble with defining the right question and coming up with solutions that work.