What is Design Thinking
Have you wondered how the world’s revolutionary innovations that radically improved our lives came about?
Think Apple, Google, Airbnb, Bank of America’s “Keep the Change” program, GE’s Adventure MRI scanner, Nike, UberEATS, even Netflix, and more.
One of the game-changing factors that brought about these improvements is what we call design thinking.
Design thinking has helped industries and businesses innovate so they can offer valuable solutions to their users’ pain points.
If you’re a CEO or executive of a technology or SaaS company, design thinking will be a critical piece of knowledge you have to cultivate.
Fortunately, this is the right place for you to start learning about design thinking, particularly within the context of SaaS companies.
We will also discuss what design thinking is, what its phases are, and why it’s essential for your business.
Let’s dive in.
Defining Design Thinking
Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative, systematic, creative, user-focused, and solution-based approach to tackle your users’ problems and pain points.
Being user-centered, you seek to understand more deeply the people for whom you design your products and services, and consider their needs. Remember, you can't create beneficial solutions if you don't first understand their experiences.
In design thinking, you also systematically extract, educate, learn, and creatively implement techniques.
It involves embracing paradigm shifts, hands-on methods, and others, to uncover solutions possibly hidden in your initial assessment or level of perception.
Essentially, design thinking is about creating value for your customers.
Design thinking, however, is not only limited to products and services, but also procedures, internal processes in your company, and other aspects.
Why is Design Thinking Important?
Design thinking is important because it allows you to focus on giving value, that is, what matters most to your users.
Doing so ensures that your solutions matter.
Putting your users at the center of your problem-solving method helps you build more excellent products, services, and even internal processes.
It broadens your perspective, encourages out-of-the-box ideas, and calls you to challenge present remedies and develop practical alternatives.
You also get to contest your assumptions and rethink problems to arrive at innovative, technologically and economically feasible solutions.
As a leader in your SaaS company, you can effectively spur a design thinking culture among your product development, marketing, and other departments.
If you want to adopt design thinking, though, there are concepts and methods that you need to have a firm grasp on.
You can do so by enrolling in a Design Thinking Certification Training Course.
In that course, you will learn how to determine your users’ needs, think differently, and collaborate for problem-solving, among others.
These thinking systems and other skills will enable you to produce ingenious solutions that please and benefit your users.
That said, design thinking enhances your SaaS business, your internal and external processes, etc. because of its power to break new ground.
It is more than a process — it sparks new ways of thinking and provides you creative methods to apply those new mindsets firsthand.
Phases of Design Thinking
Design thinking is a five-phase process, according to Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (or d.school) at Stanford.
As mentioned earlier, design thinking is an iterative or repetitive process. It isn’t linear.
As such, the phases are not to be taken as sequential steps.
You — and primarily your design team — don't have to follow this order as presented. You can even redo the steps in any way you want.
These phases should be treated as different approaches that lead to the whole project.
Ultimately, the goal throughout is to understand your users and products as profoundly as possible.
With that said, here are the five phases of design thinking:
This crucial phase helps you develop an empathetic perception of your users and their problems.
This is the part where you need to probe your users’ needs and pain points so you can identify with them.
To do that, you can conduct user research or empathy mapping.
Empathy mapping, for one, is simple yet effective in bringing out from your data your users’ thoughts and feelings regarding a particular pain point.
Write down what they think, feel, say, and do. Synthesize those needs and then your insights.
In this way, you put your assumptions aside and glean genuine insight into your users’ experiences.
You get to put yourself in their shoes so you can understand how troublesome their problems are and so necessitate a life-changing solution.
In this phase, you integrate the information you collected and generated in the Empathize phase.
You need to study your findings and combine them. Doing so allows you to specify your users’ primary needs and problems as identified by you and your team.
In doing this, don't forget to define your problem statement in a user-focused way.
When you reach this phase, you become ready to brainstorm and breed ideas.
The stable knowledge you acquired from the two previous phases helps you think unconventionally, see the problems differently, and explore new and contemporary solutions.
This is the phase where you challenge your assumptions and pre-held notions and generate ideas.
In the prototype phase, you begin to build your solutions.
If you're concerned about getting things correctly the first time, you can relax since the prototype phase is an experimental one.
The goal here is to determine the ideal solution for every problem classified in the other three phases.
You will invent a couple of economical, downscaled variations of the product (or its particular features). Doing so lets you examine the solution you’ve come up within the Ideate Phase.
The Test phase is an exciting one.
Here, you intensively try out your best solutions from the Prototype stage.
Testing may be the last phase in design thinking. But since the process is iterative, you can use the results from this phase to redefine one problem or more.
Your designers can go back to other phases to refine further, modify, etc. until you get the most desirable results.
Let’s recap what we learned from this guide:
Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative, systematic, creative, user-focused, and solution-based approach to tackle your users’ problems.
It is about creating value for your users.
Its five phases are: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.
Design thinking is essential because it allows you to think outside the box and innovate so you can build beneficial and technologically and economically viable solutions.
If you integrate design thinking in your SaaS company’s culture and initiatives, you can come up with processes that improve how you serve your audience.
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About The Author
A technology savvy professional with an exceptional capacity to analyze, solve problems and multi-task. Technical expertise in highly scalable distributed systems, self-healing systems, and service-oriented architecture. Technical Skills: Java/J2EE, Spring, Hibernate, Reactive Programming, Microservices, Hystrix, Rest APIs, Java 8, Kafka, Kibana, Elasticsearch, etc.