2020 Clarity in Design Thinking

Design thinking (a guide to solving problems, in a user-centric way) is a term that describes the practical, process led structure that has informed modern day design in fields from architecture to engineering, product to creative. The basic process consists of five core steps, a tried and tested sequence that can be applied to a range of disciplines to seek out clear, substantiated solutions to real-world problems.

In-short, the five steps are to:

1. Empathise

Understand the user, their wants needs and objectives by observing and engaging with them to appreciate and empathise with their psychological and emotional position on the issue(s) at hand.

2. Define

Define the problem and the subsequent issues that are created because of it. Understand patterns, limitations and emotions that are caused by the problem. Frame the problem from the perspective of the person or audience, in a user-centred way.

3. Ideate

Together as a team, explore the problem, through the range of methods available. Brainstorming and mind-mapping are obvious suggestions, role-play less so. Depending on the brief and criteria, explore and even create new and interesting ways to develop and form ideas. Constantly reflect the ideas against steps 1 and 2 in the process. Does this relate to the user and does the idea solve their problem? Essentially, this is driven by a HMW approach (‘How might we…’) to solving the known issues at hand.

4. Prototype

When ideas are chosen and put forward, you’re now in a position to prototype. You’re ready to create the range or required parts to get better vision of the whole, and in doing so, other issues and limitations may surface. Other-wise known as iterative design, prototyping a product or idea enables designers to understand tangible ways to improve on the product, often as it evolves. Low-fidelity sketches, static images and basic layouts and mood boards can be enough to bring a concept to life in a practical, timely and substantiated way. This stage should feature as few road blocks as possible and collaboration here is key. As time and distance grows between the team and step 1, it’s easy to stray into new territory, which is great if the user’s needs are still front and centre.

5. Test

This is by no means the final step. Through reaction testing the ideas in user-group sessions, AB, first click tests and other methods, you’re in a position to better the results by returning to the prototype stage. Analysing metrics and data to support change in direction or a final conclusion is key, as rarely should we assume anything, especially when an end user or customer is front-and-centre of the process from beginning to end.

This is a tried and tested method, but the real genius is in turning old process into relevant process, to better ideas, efficiencies and to achieve 2020 clarity on each and every brief, each and every time.

At eight&four, this means collaboration, support, teaming up and creating change through our seek, speak and seed mantra – a mantra that’s designed to steer our design thinking process, combining in-house creative and media to deliver results.

We call on the breadth of experience, culture, skills and talent at our disposal, and respond to each stage in a client-inclusive and audience-first way.

This year, our resolution is to continue to develop new and innovative ways to build on our approach and to ultimately better understand the audience at every opportunity.

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