What's the first discussion about while building a new digital product? Is it about marketing strategies, sales, resources, or technology? No, it's about the problem, people, and their needs. Once you get clarity about these you start designing the accurate framework to serve your audience well. That's where design thinking comes into the picture to make product development easy and precise. Let's dive deeper into it.
*Quick overview of design thinking *
In simple words, it's about putting yourself in the customer's shoes. Design thinking is a framework that shows the human-centered path to innovation. It modifies early thinking for the product managers by having a deep look at customers’ needs, aspirations, and frustrations. Its approach includes redefining the problems, asking questions, challenging decisions to develop strategies, and building solutions.
*Some advantages of applying design thinking *
- Reduce variability: Design thinking is a process on loop. UI/UX designers can conduct usability tests frequently to reduce variability in design concepts and prototypes.
- People-focused, not product-focused: It gives priority to user requirements, emotional state, and behavior, not just qualitative data to develop product design.
- The solution in the form of product: It inspires product managers and designers to build design specifications and test them early during the process.
*Why design thinking is important in new product development? *
The quality of good product designers and managers is to keep personal perception aside and understand the target audience’s daily workflow deeply to gain new ideas and insights.
Navigating the analytical and tactical information from the beginning is secondary:
- What total time do we have?
- What features are to be developed?
- The revenues benchmark in year one to declare it as successful.
- What roles should be given to what teams?
This is what the design thinking framework tells us. There are two key mistakes in traditional thinking of product development:
- You started by focusing on the product instead of finding the solution for your user’s problems.
- Your first objective should be user and their needs, not your organization and your internal needs.
So what do you get on integrating design thinking with new product development?
- Exploring various design concepts and specifications.
- Collect information through usability tests.
- Understanding your user’s issues with product interface and usability.
Remember that design thinking is a non-linear process. So, designers use different processes in parallel or use them repeatedly in their projects.
*How can you execute design thinking in new product development? *
Forget the traditional way of product development and apply design thinking to level up your next IT project. Design thinking is divided into 5 ground-breaking steps:
1. Empathize with customers
It's about observing and analyzing the expected target users. It can be done in many ways: usability testing, interviews, conducting surveys, preview short tests and recording their feedback. You can ask questions to strengthen your bond with them like:
- What do they think of your product?
- How are they using it?
- In what ways do they use your product?
- How do they envision your brand?
2. Defining the issues
It's time to compile and analyze the whole data you collected during empathize phase. Thus, you can define the main issues observed during the first phase. Defining problems in a human-centric way rather than a product-centric way is really appreciable.
- Abilities of designers during this phase:
- Keep analyzing the issues from various angles and think something outside the box.
- Define these issues as problem statements in the human-centric method.
- Encourage the team to try various possibilities of the solution by asking questions.
*3. Ideate: *
Don’t stop the ideas and keep them striking. Awake your creative selves and think about design concepts that can solve the user’s issues. It is better to organize brainstorming sessions with your team including stakeholders, designers, developers, and other people of interest to build on each other’s creativity. Note all the relevant and innovative ideas for reference later.
Among all the solutions and ideas, you have formulated, choose the best among them and begin with creating a prototype. Developing a prototype in an early stage will ease the testing of the proposed solution.
When you are trying to solve multiple issues, execute all the selected solutions on a single prototype to check if they work together smoothly. This practice will also highlight the limitations, if any, in the product and the proposed solution. In the end, you will know which solutions work best and which need to be rejected or improved.
*5. Test *
Now your task is to check the usability of the functional prototype you developed and ensure that it solves the issues you marked during the second phase.
This is the final stage, but if you come across any problems, you will have to get back to the earlier stages. In severe problems, you might also have to start with empathizing phase. If you have limited time and budget, go for a usability test.
Design thinking isn't only for designers. Its principles can work for anyone in any industry who is trying to build a solution for a problem. Design thinking acts as a gap filler between the users’ needs and the product features for better coordination in the team.
So, apply the principles of design thinking in your new product development process and share your experiences with us!
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