3minute learning on how great websites are built by great project managers

by Mellonie Francis Wed Feb 12

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Design Thinking is a set of principles for a practical design approach. This approach aims to solve complex problems by utilizing empathetic, creative, innovative and methodical skills. 

Let us dive into what design thinking really is, and how it can help you to make more meaningful and functioning web design solutions in the process of UX/UI design. 

What Is Design Thinking? 

Whether you’re imagining something or making a design for custom web development, Design Thinking is not only a set of principle, but also a process, outlook and skillset. The Design Thinking Process is broken down into five steps that were outlined by Hasso Plattner, co-founder of SAP SE Software Company. These steps include Empathizing, Defining, Ideating, Prototyping and Testing. 

This approach helps us to combat hidden difficulties in the tech world. We can understand the human needs and reevaluate the underlying problem in a human-centric way. Once the problem is known, we must start planning to generate ideas and taking on practical approaches when prototyping. 

By understanding the stages of Design Thinking, it will allow you to apply the method to solve the multifaceted and hidden problems around us. 

The fundamental principles of Design Thinking are:

Empathizing With Your Client

Empathy is the process of getting to the core of what is needed by the client. When you start a project, you need to be able to visualize yourself as the user. Basically, you need to have a clear picture of what your client needs. Empathy is the collection of qualitative data through keen observation and focus.

‘Walking in the shoes’ of your client can help you better comprehend what their desired outcome is. With valuable qualitative data, you can create a great web design.  

The main questions you should be asking yourself are: who are the prospective customers of the product you are making? What makes the target audience exclusive? What are their habits and online behavior like? What are their pain-points, and what needs to be fulfilled? Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be able to make a good start.

During this phase, the focus should be on the experiences and emotional needs of the users. The empathy-mapping stage makes the rest of the process easier to carry out. It is a way to familiarize yourself with the user persona and illustrate the target audience to make effective design decisions.

Defining The Design

Defining is the second stage of the Design Thinking process, where you map out the complexities, interpret, plan and take action. This is the point where we shape a view about the underlying problem, our own and other’s. 

It is important that during this process, you focus on the positive aspects to help you identify the solution. You should the necessary steps users should make to successfully use a website. At this point, you should map out the journey of the audience and interpret the problems that they may come across when using your website. 

There are two types of user journey mapping in this phase: Retrospective mapping, and prospective mapping. 

Retrospective mapping is utilized to record the behavior and current moves of the users on the internet

Prospective mapping is used to understand how you expect users to interact with an innovative product or service. 

For each product or service, the user journey mapping should be distinct. 

Generate the Ideas

Ideating is the next stage where you generate your ideas. It is brainstorming, visualizing, pondering, and contemplating all the possible outcomes. After you complete the first two phases of Design Thinking, you need to produce the most innovative and relevant ideas. 

It is the most exciting part of the Design Thinking Process as it gives you the freedom to imagine as much as you want to, and bring your ideas to life. 

This stage is the collection of quantitative data, as you will discover as many ideas as you can. Few of these ideas will be considered as a potential solution for web design, and the rest will be discarded. The key purpose of the ideation process is to think outside the box and explore new possibilities. 

You need to follow a few straightforward rules – set a deadline, stay relevant, visualize and construct on the ideas. 

So, you may ask, why is the ideation process crucial? 

If ideation is carried out accurately, it is where you will come up with innovative solutions that the users have never gotten exposure to! 

It can help you to ask the relevant questions, think eccentrically, and come up with innovative solutions. 

Prototyping – Make Beta Versions

This is the stage where you bring the ideas to life. Prototyping is the process of sketching, imagining, and making wireframes. When you are creating a UI or UX design, your focus should be on attempting diverse solutions. 

By making an interface that will improve the usability of the website and provide user satisfaction, the end-user will want to keep coming back. 

We outlined earlier that understanding problems is the key to creating a good web design. If the problem is not accurately defined, you would have limited awareness of the possibilities. 

This ultimately results in failure to come up with an adequate solution. The most effective way to figure out the solutions and clearly define the problems is to begin with a website sketch, and then carry on with creating the digital wireframe. 

Testing the Web Design

Testing is the concluding stage of the Design Thinking process, where you test the functionality, usability, and usefulness for the final users.

In some cases, you might end up creating a faultless design in your first attempt. However, you are likely to have few errors here and there, which is completely fine, as the process of Design Thinking includes bearing failure, and overcoming it. 

Errors are bound to happen during a UI/UX design, however, it is important to identify them while you can fix them, which is why testing the prototype is an essential part. 

Conclusion

Design Thinking might seem like a complex process until you get into the core of it. Design Thinking will help you to think beyond the original state, and take into account the strategies you have not previously considered. When you identify and define the problems, ideate, prototype and test the solution, you can create innovative web designs.

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