The Value of Design Thinking in UX Design
The impact of digital disruption is being felt globally in everyday life as technology advances and integrates 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 key to the growth and survival of your business.
User experience (UX) design and design thinking provide the best digital products, as innovation is encouraged by 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 important. To be a successful leader in any business, you must acknowledge and understand the importance of listening when creating 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 section, we’ll explain the relationship between the two and how to integrate them into your digital product.
User Experience (UX) Design
User experience 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, its efficiency in performing tasks, and its functionality.
Overall, seven factors affect a user’s experience, which UX design works on:
Although the concept of creating something with users in mind has always been around, the term “user experience,” let alone "UX,” was only recently coined by Dr. Donald Norman, a cognitive science researcher who also happened to be the first to describe the importance of design decisions being centered around the needs and wants of users—also known as user-centered design
The Value of User Experience (UX) Design
The past decade has seen 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.
Little thought was put into whether users could actually use the product and whether they would actually have an enjoyable experience with it. Functionality and accessibility had been in the background, but now a transformation is 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. In addition to that, products also need to be able to effectively make money for the business, and designers have become more results- and business-driven than they ever were before.
UX Design vs Web Design
Despite the overlap between UX design and web design, the two differ in many ways.
The key difference is that web designers tend to just design digital solutions that their clients want.
On the other hand, UX designers aim to build products that not only help a business increase revenue, retention, acquisitions, or engagement but also solve problems for end users.
Creating the most user-friendly digital product means knowing your users inside and 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.
A brilliant solution to the wrong problem can be worse than no solution at all. Solve the correct problem.
– Donald A. Norman, often credited as the father of UX, Norman is the director of The Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego and author of The Design of Everyday Things.
This stage gives teams the opportunity to collaborate and identify patterns and problems. With the insights and data collected, you can draw conclusions and define problems to seek human-centric design solutions.
Once problems are identified and confirmed, it’s time to explore solutions. In design thinking, you are committed to exploring a diverse range of solutions for people.
Ideas are gathered, discussed, and evaluated collectively as a group. As the best solutions get voted on, they move on to the next step, which is prototyping.
It’s time to create. This step of the design thinking process is about using the information gathered to create low-fidelity prototypes of the intended solution.
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, a web designer and speaker on web design, he is the co-founder of A List Apart Magazine and the Web Standards Project
Creating the best digital product that provides users with a quality experience requires a lot of time and effort. This part of the process is to guarantee that the problems your users experience are reduced, if not eliminated.
The Difference Between Design Thinking & Brainstorming
If you’re new to design thinking, you might mistake it for a simple brainstorming process. Businesses might not be able to identify the unique features of design thinking at first and might choose to neglect the concept altogether.
Here are five things that set design thinking apart from brainstorming:
1. Reliance on structure
Brainstorming can often become unfocused as it is relatively casual. In contrast, design thinking requires more structure to maintain a more focused, user-centered solution.
2. Definition of the problem
Unlike brainstorming, the design-thinking process defines problems solely based on users.
3. Feedback-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.
4. More time investment
The design-thinking process is more time-consuming than just running a quick brainstorming session. But in the end, it saves time because design changes are made early on in the product life cycle.
Although they may seem similar at first glance, the design-thinking process is superior as it produces successful results due to the guidance, structure, and feedback-driven refinements it offers.
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 percent of organizations reported that they use design thinking.
Through embracing this approach to their design methodologies, they’ve been able to generate a profitable business by understanding their users, defining a clear problem statement, and finding and validating a solution that solves that problem and meets their business objectives.
During their design-thinking process, they uncovered the goals of their users and their attitudes toward their brand. From this, they were able to gain a deeper understanding of the community they were creating products for.
As a result, Nike took their newly acquired knowledge and released the Nike Dunk SB, which has gained tremendous success within the skateboarding community.
Gain valuable insights
Observing, understanding, and caring about people and how they react to their surroundings and products can give valuable insights that wouldn’t be possible through a conversation.
Another company that has discovered the value that arises from the design-thinking process is Oral B. In their quest to design the perfect toothbrush for children, Oral B approached a design firm called IDEO for help, which said they’d like to observe children actually brushing their teeth.
Although the request might have seemed weird, it helped them uncover a game-changing insight. They found that the way children grip their toothbrushes and use them significantly impacts the effectiveness of the toothbrush.
From this empathetic and user-centric approach, both IDEO and Oral B were able to create the best ergonomic toothbrush for children—one with a squishy gripper that is also shorter. This 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 more prominent. In order to survive and become a leader in any business in the digital age, you must acknowledge and understand the importance of listening to and understanding people when creating 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.
User experience (UX) design can benefit significantly from design thinking as it provides the best digital products for users and puts users at the core of every decision.