What is Design Thinking in Web Development?

What is Design Thinking in Web Development?

Design Thinking is an interesting stream in web development, where the company uses the designer’s sensibilities and ideas to conform to people’s needs, tally them what is technologically feasible, and create a visible business strategy that can fulfil client demands and create better market opportunities.

In simple words, Design Thinking is another way of solving problems that may arise in web development. And it also finds the problems and devices a technically feasible and viable option to solve that problem.

Though the phrase may sound so simple, the depth that goes into it is by no means shallow. Stanford’s D school has made it a more understandable phrase, explaining the ingredients that go into its making. “Innovate or die”, that’s pretty much the policy, because if you are not innovating and presenting a unique concept to your customers every time you release something, then you are as good as dead. So you can say that Design Thinking is a systematic approach to solving problems, and creating new opportunities.

The FIVE Stages

There are five main stages in Design Thinking. They are Empathize, Define, Ideation, Prototype & Test

Here’s more about them:

1) Empathize

While creating a new design for your project, it is important to emphasise with the user. You have to think of the human side of an app – would it be something the user is looking forward to? In fact, Empathy is thought to be the UX Holy Grail, and plays a very important role in your decision making process.

Researchers do this by creating personas of different users so they can understand their needs, requirements, behaviours, aspirations, goals, experience etc. Different user personas are created depending on who their target segment is.

This would help them understand the different needs of different people. These personas are based on real data that you collect from real people, and so they would largely be based on the different research patterns. These personas would help you ask the right questions and answers, and would be based on the people you are designing this product for. There are different kinds of Personas based on the value you are looking at – Goal-based personas, Engaging personas, Fictional personas, Role- based personas and so on.

2) Define

When you empathise with the user, you get a lot of information from different sources, and they are all in front of you in some form or the other.

Now what do you do with all this information? You define them. You can process all the things that you get, grasp them, churn them and draw conclusions. All the information that you capture about your user will be synthesised with the help of pictures, maps of user experiences, quotes and more. You frame a problem they could be facing, and leave enough room to find solutions and even new opportunities.

3) Ideate

This is the next stage in Design Thinking. Once the problem is framed, you can start leveraging ideas to solve it. Here you ideate deeply, rejecting ideas that don’t work, and working on the ones that may seem plausible. The progress from Define to the Ideation stage has to be seamless. To make this transition smooth, you can generate a list of “How might we solve this problem”, or “How might we solve that problem” when you are in the Define stage. This can help you churn out different ideas.

This stage involves other people’s ideas as well, so plenty goes into the brainstorming. Once you have collected all the ideas that look good, you can crystallise them into prototypes.

4) Prototype

This is where you bring all the feasible solutions into vision, making Prototyping a very integral and important step in Design Thinking. Sketching is one common way of translating all those ideas, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be scaled exactly.

You can send the prototype to users and consumers to get a feel of what they think of it. This way you would be involving them as well, and they would immediately feel connected. This would help determine whether the solution actually solves the problem. It is this prototype that can evolve into a beta product and minimum viable product (MVP) later on.

Apart from sketching, you can use artefacts, role-playing and drawings to make preliminary models. It may also happen that a promising idea when developed into a Prototyped solution may not really be a feasible one. That is why experts say that you shouldn’t delve into the first good idea that you see. You need to try out other approaches, merge a few other approaches, test alternative ideas and remove the problematic ideas.

5) Testing

This is the Stage 5 in the Design Thinking concept. Once their product is out in the user’s hands during the Prototyping stage, there is a necessity to check whether he/she experiences difficulties. If the answer is in the affirmative, then they must revisit their strategies to come up with new results and solutions.

User feedback thus becomes an invaluable asset in this stage as they give you a deeper understanding about consumer wants. Empathise with them, open up new insights that can Define your problem better, generate new ideas in the Ideation stage, and eventually to a newer Prototype that satisfies them. The ultimate aim is of course, to have a happy user.

Closing thoughts

The five stages mentioned above are not essentially sequential steps, but rather different modes, sometimes you go back to a particular mode, run one mode in parallel with another, because the idea is to generate more value, and more learning.

Design Thinking is thus very powerful; it helps the designers to come up with the right products and the right features. It talks about not just the user’s experience, but also in terms of interaction and visual design.

Through personas, designers can relate to user’s problems, based on real life situations and help them make right decisions while deciding on the features. The designers can ask the right questions, which in turn, let them create useful features, and ultimately, a product users would love.

However, once the product release is over, the developer’s job doesn’t end there. The concept’s rational approach is used once again, to identify new users, their problems and solutions.

Interesting Articles:
Design Thinking a major part for success
Ways for succesful Design Thinking

Picture source: Flickr.com/ Wikilogia/ Bengtsson

About the author: Reema works as Thought Leader at PHPBabu.

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