We’ve heard often that design thinking is the secret to the success of businesses like Apple, Nike, and many other recognizable brands. However, not many of us stop and question what design thinking really is, and how it can help us to innovate our products and services.
What is design thinking?
Most businesses try to approach products and services with problems in mind. However, design thinking brings a paradigm shift. Design thinking prioritizes solutions first and orients products and services toward action. Design thinking imagines all the solutions that a user might want, even if there are no problems. This unique quality of design thinking helps businesses to bring solutions before users identify problems or feel a need. In other words, when a user uses a product or service with design thinking as its basis, he experiences what can be described as a “eureka moment”.
Whether you are selling a software program, an idea or a pair of shoes, design thinking can help you innovate. Let’s take a look at how it does that.
Design thinking is a combination of science, art & design. This approach helps us to bring value to whatever we are creating.
Apple’s iPhone is not just a cellphone. It effectively used art, science and design to create one of the most enduring symbols of 21st century. iPhone not only helped solve existing problems, but it brought value to an entire industry and helped other smartphone manufacturers to innovate.
One of the hallmarks of design thinking is intuitiveness. Design thinking helps to create products and services that are intuitive. This intuitiveness helps to drive innovation in the larger industry.
WordPress is a good example of this intuitiveness. It helps even users with minimal knowledge of publishing to post blogs, and even run entire websites. This is an example of intuitiveness at its best. WordPress continues to innovate publishing industry because it is rooted in design thinking.
Design thinking helps to predict what others might be doing. It isn’t just about creating solutions but also about understanding what might happen in future. This quality helps those doing the design thinking to innovate and move further than their competitors.
Nike has consistently used design thinking to stay ahead of other sneaker manufacturers. This is mostly because the company’s design thinking has helped it to combine athletic science with fashion trends, which appeals not only to those who are interested in sportswear, but also the fashion-conscious.
Design thinking puts user interface and user experience at the top of priorities. Doing so helps to create products and services that are truly innovative.
Most software programs that are popular today are so because of their UI/UX. Programs that are clumsy or outdated simply do not do well enough. With this in mind, it is safe to say that software development’s UX/UI is heavily dependent on design thinking.
Design thinking is all about focusing on the end user. Some of the most important questions that are asked are who is it for, why do they want to use it, when will they use it, how will they use, and where will they use it. As only end users are prioritized, innovation focuses on their needs.
When Amazon decided to include bookmarks with books that were parceled to customers, it was engaging in design thinking.
Design thinking focuses on brainstorming and the collective expertise of many individuals or teams. This helps to create a holistic solution, instead of a product or service that may not seem very well put together.
Remarkable buildings around the world are a result of design thinking. The Great Pyramid of Giza took thousands of slaves, builders, architects and engineers to build, thousands of years ago.
Design thinking stresses upon the importance of empathy and emotional connection with the user. Designers should walk in the shoes of the user, and imagine what he or she might feel emotionally while using the product. Does it elicit joy, confusion, anger, boredom, thrill, relief?
Manufacturers of candies know the importance of empathy and emotional connection very well. This is one of the reasons why they hire professional tasters before launching candies into market!
Design thinking is not about looking at various problems. It is about creating a holistic solution. It believes in the gestalt philosophy of ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. This means, it puts various factors of art, science and design together to create a marketable service or product, which is intuitive and useful.
Almost all great products and services are gestalts. Be it IBM’s cloud solutions or Microsoft’s Office suite, they are all gestalts in their own way.
Design thinking drives innovation by creating opportunities. It creates opportunities for competitors to innovate because a product or service that is based in design thinking is usually inspirational.
We could probably again state the example of the iPhone, which helped Samsung, and other smartphone manufacturers to create products that are rivals in their own right.
Last but not the least, design thinking solves problems. This quality of design thinking helps companies to innovate and create solutions even before problems arise. Testing and resting, research and development, innovation and strategy are all part of design thinking.
Almost all mobile and web apps that are successful today solve problems based on design thinking. Similarly, today’s extraordinary cloud computing solutions are based in design thinking too!
As you can see, design thinking does a lot of other things than just solving problems. It helps to create value and bring intuitive user experience to end users. All this results in innovation in whatever you are offering to your end users, and that is what a business should be all about.