Thanks to the growing interconnectivity between brands and their customers through tools like social media, companies have become increasingly keen on showcasing how human centered their business practises are. With direct channels of communication, consumers can now offer companies feedback on a product or service on scale not seen before.
Any and all feedback from consumers isn’t taken lightly, with companies aiming to make changes as fast as people are demanding them, particularly around customer experience and user experience.
However, these changes can be costly, especially if the company in question doesn’t employ an iterative design process like design thinking.
What is design thinking?
Simply put, design thinking is a term that describes the iterative process of creative problem solving that puts the consumers’ needs at the centre of everything.
A human centric process, it can be deployed in any industry, from tech to architecture to communications, and allows companies and brands to discover alternative and creative solutions to apparent or more ambiguous problems.
Design thinking is a non-linear problem solving process, with users doing plenty of back and forth, rather than sticking to a single, straightforward design path. In design thinking, baby steps are the way forward.
How does design thinking work?
Design thinking requires you to step into the shoes of your customers in order to gain a better understanding of the problem you need to solve.
This can be done through a host of data collection methods, and feedback can be qualitative or quantitative, depending on what steps you take. Through this data collection, you can clearly define the problems at hand, what your consumers’ needs are, and then begin to ideate possible solutions for them. See our qualitative-quantitative research post for more insight into the research process.
As it is an iterative problem solving process, there is no straight path to the finish line when it comes to design thinking, and any ideas you come up with will require multiple bouts of optimization and testing to see whether they work or not.
Simply, design thinking offers a new way of problem solving.
The design thinking process, broken down
The design thinking process can be broken down into five steps:
Step 1 — Empathise
The first step is to understand your customers. Who are they? What do they want from you? What do they want to accomplish with your products and services?
This step is where you do your first lot of data collection, and is also known as an “empathy study”.
Step 2 — Define
From what you’ve found in your empathy study, identify and define the problems and challenges your customers are facing.
Step 3 — Ideate
This is where the innovative problem solving begins and you can start generating potential solutions.
Think big, think small, and come up with as many ideas as you can. Don’t worry if you think you have too many ideas — they’ll be whittled down later.
Step 4 — Prototype
The prototype stage of the design thinking process involves your team creating low fidelity tests for your ideas that can still provide you with solid, accurate data.
Remember what we said about not worrying if you have too many ideas? During the design process, you may come across problems with some of your test designs, so you can cut those out to save time and energy.
Step 5 — Test
This is the final stage in the design thinking process.
Once your prototypes are ready, put them in front of your customers and record their responses.
It’s important to note, depending on the collective output of the last three stages, you might find yourself repeating the latter half of the design thinking process.
What does data have to do with design thinking?
As great as the design thinking approach is, it can’t deliver quality all on its own.
Data collection, storage, and access is perhaps the easiest it has ever been, thanks to the Internet, as is being able to understand your customers. The thing is, it’s not just about seeing the numbers go up and getting great reviews anymore — businesses are now expected to anticipate customer needs and attitudes.
Data won’t lead your design thinking approach, but it will fuel it. It feeds into every stage of your design thinking process, shedding light on a new solution or areas that may require more attention than others, and directing your focus.
How can Loops help with design thinking?
By not employing a design thinking process, companies run the risk of alienating their customers by not meeting or missing their needs, seemingly ignoring them. This then risks a domino effect, where consumer dissatisfaction can then negatively impact sales and brand reception.
Committing to an iterative process doesn’t need to be difficult, nor does collecting and analysing data.
Loops has been designed to optimize the iterative design process, offering the most detailed insights from our 110M person-strong research base and doing all the heavy research lifting for you. We take all the hard-to-process qualitative data and turn it into a concrete foundation to validate your design projects.
What can Loops do?
Loops allows strategists, creatives and designers to test their creative materials via a global consumer audience by asking precision questions to specific groups of people in minutes.
With access to over 40 markets and 20+ demographic filters, the hassle of recruitment is taken care of. Thousands of verbatim comments can be gathered and analysed in minutes, allowing for fast optimization and retesting — what normally take weeks to complete via traditional approaches like workshops and focus groups, Loops can do in 24 hours.
Because Loops is design for iteration, each step of your iterative process is preserved, offering team members and stakeholders a step-by-step view of the progress that has been made alongside the data that has informed your design changes. This system of record for your insight led design process is a great insurance policy against subjective curveballs from stakeholders who’ve only just started paying attention to the project. You can show the thinking is robust, proven by what consumers have said.
In the design thinking process, a tool like Loops is a powerful and valuable asset. By actively giving consumers a voice in your design process, you will:
- Create output that is proven to resonate with your audience
- Have a system of record of insights coupled to iterations
- Align stakeholders throughout the creative journey and ensure their buy-in