Today, the paradigm of business has shifted from being profit-centric to customer-centric. As business is all about customer satisfaction now, it has become all the more important for companies to rethink their business and marketing strategies to fit customer needs. In this post, we are going to shed light on one such innovative and user-centric methodology – “Design Thinking” and why you need to upskill yourself with a Design Thinking certification training course.

In simple words, Design Thinking is an iterative, problem-solving approach that aims to understand the needs of the customer and design effective solutions to meet those needs. By understanding the pain points of the customers, by redefining problems, and by challenging assumptions, Design Thinking takes a user-oriented approach to develop solutions that go way beyond the surface level understanding of the users.

design thinking illustration

Mental Energy Illustration by Anatolii Babii

Design Thinking is “user-centric” since it gives users or customers the first place of importance. The entire idea of Design Thinking is centered around the notion that as a brand, one must first gain a deeper understanding of the audience for whom it is designing products/services. It allows designers/marketers to identify the key research areas, design prototypes for products/services, and test them to discover new techniques to fulfill the ever-changing user needs. In this way, Design Thinking helps brands to redefine their product/service strategies to maximize customer satisfaction.

The benefits of Design Thinking:

According to Roger Martin, the author of Design of Business,

“Design-thinking firms stand apart in their willingness to engage in the task of continuously redesigning their business…to create advances in both innovation and efficiency — the combination that produces the most powerful competitive edge.”

Design Thinking can:

  • Help you identify the unmet needs of the customers.
  • Help reduce the risk factor associated with new ideas.
  • Help create solutions that are both incremental and innovative.
  • Help boost customer satisfaction and retain existing customers.

Design Thinking is leveraged by some of the big names in the industry, including Google, Apple, IBM, Infosys, and Airbnb, to name a few. This only proves that it is one of the secret ingredients behind the success of these companies.

The five phases of Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a five-phase process that was initially developed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. The five phases of Design Thinking are:

  • Empathize (with your users)
  • Define (the pain points and needs of your users and your insights into it)
  • Ideate (by challenging assumptions and designing unique solutions)
  • Prototype (to represent your ideas for others to see)
  • Test (the prototypes/solutions and gather user feedback)

phases design thinking process

1. Empathize

As we mentioned earlier, the first step of Design Thinking is to understand the customers. By empathizing with your target audience, you can identify and understand their pain points better. You can get a more in-depth insight into their problems and accordingly, find solutions that can efficiently meet such challenges.

This stage demands that you set aside your assumptions and opt for a hands-on research approach into the customer mindset. Research helps you to gather real insights about the users and connect with them on an emotional and psychological level.

2. Define

While the first phase is all about understanding customers by gathering data to gain real insights into their problems, the second phase focuses on defining the issue at hand. Essentially, in this stage, you will have to analyze all the insights you have accumulated so far, and combine them to reach a concrete conclusion about the root problem of your target audience. The goal here is to create a clear problem statement so that you and your team can come up with unique ideas and solutions.

3. Ideate

Once you have a deeper understanding of your target customers and a clear problem statement at hand, it is time to get to brainstorming for ideas. This is the stage where you and your team need to get creative - you have to think and ideate about potential solutions (out-of-the-box ideas). Everyone in the team must contribute actively in this process since it is all about having enough ideas on the table to develop the “best” solution.

4. Prototype

The fourth phase is where you get to experiment with all the ideas you thought of in the earlier stage. In this phase, your team will start working to develop prototypes of different ideas, wherein each prototype uniquely addresses the core problem. By creating many prototypes, your team can assess the best qualities of each prototype, the constraints of each of them, and how they can be improved. With each fix, the prototypes are enhanced, thereby allowing you to get one step closer to your goal - designing the perfect solution.

5. Test

As the name suggests, the test phase focuses on testing the prototypes to judge and evaluate how well they can solve the core problem. Testing allows designers to see the flaws in the prototypes and fix them. If there are any flaws during the final test phase, the designers can again retrace back a step to phase four to make the necessary enhancements, alterations, and adjustments. This is why Design Thinking is called an “iterative process” - you can keep altering and adjusting your models until you reach perfection.

design thinking

The best attribute of Design Thinking is that it is not industry-specific. Any enterprise or institution in any sector of the industry can use this approach to find alternative and better solutions to everyday problems. This is probably why the methodology is gaining increasing traction across various parallels of the industry today. More and more companies are adopting the Design Thinking approach to streamline their business operations and ultimately, boost their customer satisfaction. As a result, job opportunities in this domain are skyrocketing now that everyone wants a piece of it. In fact, Design Thinking is even taught at leading universities around the world as a standalone subject of study.

If you wish to make hay while the sun shines, enroll in a Design Thinking certification training course right away!


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