Panchanit Thawornwong

Panchanit Thawornwong is a Content Marketing/Digital Marketing intern at Morphosis Apps. She is responsible for researching, planning, cultivating and sharing marketing copy for the company which includes writing blog posts about industry-related topics, as well as promoting content on social media, to attract and convert prospective customers.

Business

The Value of Design Thinking in UX Design

Key Takeaways:

  • The impact of digital disruption is being felt globally in everyday life as technology is advancing and integrating into the products and services we use. 
  • The significance of listening, learning and understanding your users goes beyond cultivating a good digital product, it is the key for the growth and survival of any business. 
  • User experience (UX) design and design thinking provides the best digital product as innovation is encouraged through putting users at the core of every decision. 
  • Design thinking plays a major role in creating the best UX Designs through its creative problem solving approaches.

The impact of digital disruption on our world today can be seen and felt in all corners of every industry. The increasing sophistication of technology such as machine learning and automation has helped make our lives more convenient and we can see this in the variety of digital products being produced every day. 

Despite how much our technologies and methodologies are changing and advancing, one thing remains constant, and that is the importance of how users experience these digital products. 

The power of emotional intelligence in the digital age has become increasingly more important. To be a successful leader in any business in the new digital age, one must acknowledge and understand the importance of listening in order to create a product with the best usability, desirability and usefulness for users. This is why User Experience (UX) and Design Thinking go hand-in-hand. In this article, I’ll explain the relationship between the two and how to integrate them into your digital product.

User Experience (UX) Design

Examining user experience design

User experience, or how we most commonly know it as UX, deals with examining how users feel about a digital product’s system. It includes looking at things like how easy it is to use the digital product, the value it provides, it’s efficiency in performing tasks and the overall functionality of it. 

Overall, there are 7 factors that affect a user’s experience which UX Design works on:

  1. Usefulness
  2. Accessibility
  3. Desirability
  4. Credibility
  5. Findability
  6. Value
  7. Usability

Although the concept of creating something with users in mind has always been around, the term “user experience” let alone “UX” was a term that had only been recently coined by Dr. Donald Norman. A cognitive science researcher who also happened to first describe the importance of design decisions being centred around the needs and wants of users – also known as user-centered design.

The Value of User Experience (UX) Design

The importance of user experience to the branding of the business

Throughout the past decade, we have witnessed a shift in how digital products are developed and produced. In the past, more focus was placed on building a product that would convey the brand of the business or it would just be a product built based on what businesses thought would work. 

There was little thought put into whether or not users would or could actually use the product, and whether or not they would actually have an enjoyable experience within it. Functionality and accessibility had always been put in the background, but we’ve now seen a transformation taking place. 

Due to the abundance of competition arising in the digital era, the products that have survived have been ones that were easy, functional and pleasant to use.

UX Design vs Web Design

Web designers UX designers solving issues for clients

Despite the amount of overlaps between the aspects of UX Design and Web Design, the two differ in many other ways. 

The key difference between them is that web designs and web designers tend to only solve problems for their clients, designing digital problems that they want. 

Whereas UX designers aim to solve problems for the end-users who will actually be using said digital products. All in all, UX Design focuses more on solving functionality issues through a more user-centered approach.

1Empathise

Creating the most user-friendly digital product means knowing your users inside out. This should include a deep understanding of their pains and fears along with their goals and aspirations as a starting point. 

This first step of the Design Thinking process is an opportunity to break free from any assumptions about your users, and to think about a solution that is based on reality. 

2Define

“A brilliant solution to the wrong problem can be worse than no solution at all: solve the correct problem.” – Donald A. Norman

This stage gives teams the opportunity to collaborate and identify patterns  as well as problems together. With the insights and abundance of data collected, we can draw conclusions and define problems to seek human-centric design solutions. 

3Ideate

Once problems are identified and confirmed, it’s finally time to explore solutions. In design thinking, we are committed to exploring a diverse range of solutions for people. 

Ideas are gathered, discussed and then evaluated collectively as a  group. As the best solutions get voted on, they move to the next step which is prototyping. 

4Prototype

It’s time to finally create. This step of the Design Thinking process is about using the information gathered to create low fidelity prototypes of the intended solution. 

5Test

“Usability is like love. You have to care, you have to listen, and you have to be willing to change. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but that’s where growth and forgiveness come in.” – Jeffrey Zeldman.

Creating the best digital product that provides users with quality experiences requires a lot of time and effort. This part of the process is to guarantee that the problems our users experience are mitigated if not eliminated.

The Difference Between Design Thinking & Brainstorming

Designers identifying features of design through brainstorming

If you’re new to design thinking, it can be easily mistaken as a simple brainstorming process. Businesses may not be able to identify the unique features of design thinking at first and may choose to neglect the concept altogether. 

Here are 5 things that sets Design Thinking apart from Brainstorming:

1Reliance on structure

Brainstorming can often become unfocused as they are relatively casual processes in nature. In contrast, Design Thinking requires more structure to maintain a more focused, user-centred solution.

2Definition of the problem

Unlike brainstorming, the Design Thinking process chooses to to define problems solely based on users. 

3Feed-back driven refinement

The Design Thinking process gives an opportunity for rapid prototyping, meaning low and mid-fidelity solutions are churned out and tested constantly, allowing for direct and meaningful feedback. 

4More time investment

The process is a lot more time consuming than just a quick brainstorming session, but in the end it saves time in the long-run because developments and changes are made early on in the product cycle.

All in all, although they may seem similar at a first glance, however, the Design Thinking process is superior as it is more able to produce successful results due to the guidance, structure and feed-back driven refinements they offer. 

How Design Thinking Supports UX Design

Businesses around the globe are undergoing a digital transformation. One of the approaches to digital transformation has been adopting the Design Thinking process, in fact, 75% of organisations reported that they are engaged in design thinking. 

Through embracing this unique approach to their design methodologies, they’ve been able to cultivate empathy from their customers – leading to a happy loyal fan base. 

Skateboarders included in the design process for Nike

There are many success stories from organisations adopting this approach, one of them being the beloved Nike, who were finding it “difficult to become a prominent brand amongst the skateboarding community.” Thus, they decided it would be wise to include actual skateboarders in the design process. 

During their Design Thinking process, they have uncovered the goals of their users and their attitudes towards their brand as well. From this, they were able to gain a deeper understanding of the community they were trying to cultivate products for. 

As a result of this process, Nike took their newly acquired knowledge and were able to release their Nike Dunk SB, which has gained them tremendous success with the skateboarding community since.

Gain valuable insight

Observing, understanding and caring about people and how they react to their surroundings and products can give valuable insights that would not be possible through just a simple conversation. 

Another company that has demonstrated the value opportunities that can arise by adopting the Design Thinking process is Oral B. In their quest for designing the perfect toothbrush for children, Oral B had approached a design firm called IDEO to help – who told them they would like to observe children actually brushing their teeth.

Oral B approaching a design firm for a user-centric approach

Although the request may have seemed weird at first, it was this approach that helped them “uncover a game-changing insight.” They uncovered that the way in which children grip their toothbrushes and how they use them significantly impacted the effectiveness of the toothbrush.

From this empathetic and user-centric approach, both IDEO and Oral B were able to cultivate the best toothbrush for children – one with a squishy gripper that is also shorter – which became the best selling kids toothbrush in the world for the next 18 months.

The Rise of Emotional Intelligence

The power of emotional intelligence in the digital age will only become increasingly more prominent. In order to survive and become a  leader in any business in the new digital age, one must acknowledge and understand the importance of listening and understanding people in order to create a product with the best usability, desirability and usefulness.

All in all, Design Thinking plays a major role in creating the best UX Designs through its creative problem solving approaches. 

And User experience (UX) design can benefit significantly from Design Thinking as it provides the best digital products for users as innovation is encouraged through putting users at the core of every decision.

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