Why Design Thinking Leads to Better Creative Solutions

by Nate Fleming

Design thinking is not just an idea or philosophy; it's a roadmap to creative solutions. It’s a framework that often leads to better creative solutions than traditional approaches like brainstorming and expert opinion. This is because it is all about creating great experiences from a place of understanding of the human needs involved. And it can be used to develop anything from new products to branding to interactive experiences and even marketing campaigns.

Here’s how it works (and some tips on how to make it work for you):

There are Five Key Steps to Design Thinking
  1. Problem Definition (figuring out what you want to solve)
  2. Empathy (understanding the user)
  3. Ideation (creating ideas)
  4. Prototyping (bringing those ideas to life)
  5. Testing & Evaluating (deciding which ones work best)
Problem Definition

The first step in designing creative solutions is defining the problem you want to solve. The problem statement serves as a starting point for all other activities, providing focus and direction for your team. It's important that it be short and precise.

The most common mistake people make when defining problems is being too vague. A good way to avoid this is framing your question as something like: "How might we improve [X]?" This will help keep things open-ended enough so that multiple ideas can be generated, but also specific enough so that each idea has some context around how it could be executed (and therefore evaluated).

The second step is to gather information about your users and the context in which they use your product. 

This includes things like: 

  • Who are they? 
  • What are their needs and motivations? 
  • Where do they live, work, play? 
  • How does the world look through their eyes? 

This is where empathy comes in.

Empathy

This is about putting yourself in someone else's shoes. In order to get a firm grasp on the problem, you have to understand the user's needs—what they're looking for, what their goals are, and what kinds of ideas would most likely inspire them.

To do that effectively, you need empathy: being able to see things from others’ perspectives and how they might react in various situations gives you the power to create great experiences for people while respecting them as human beings.

Ideation

Ideation is the process of generating and evaluating ideas. You'll want to make sure you have plenty of time for this step, as it can be a lengthy process. There are several different methods for ideation, including brainstorming and mind mapping.

One common approach is to use brainstorming techniques where participants generate as many ideas as possible without criticism or evaluation (i.e., no judgement). A more structured approach involves breaking down a problem into smaller parts before generating ideas on each part separately—this allows participants time to reflect on what they've already come up with before moving onto new topics.

Prototyping

Prototyping is a critical part of bringing those ideas to life. This step will help you test your assumptions and gain valuable insight into how users are interacting with the product or reacting to the campaign concept as you go through iterations.

Prototypes allow us to explore ideas without having to invest large amounts of time or money into them, which means we can start testing our assumptions sooner rather than later.

The important thing to remember about low-fidelity prototypes is that they should be lightweight and easy to create. You should expect them to change frequently as you test your ideas with users.

Here are some common types of low-fidelity prototypes:

  • Paper prototypes—These are exactly what they sound like: hand-drawn sketches on paper with notes on how they work and what they're supposed to do. Paper prototypes are great for showing flows at a high level and getting feedback quickly from users who don't have much experience with technology or design concepts.
  • Interactive sketches—These use shapes instead of text boxes and buttons in order to communicate functionality; users click or tap on shapes or lines in order to trigger events in the prototype.
Testing & Evaluating

The quickest way to test your prototype is simply creating it to see if it makes sense to you. If it does, move on to the next step. If not, go back and revise your prototype until it does make sense.

The next step is to test your low-fidelity prototype with people who are familiar with the product or service you're developing or promoting. They can help you identify any gaps or confusing elements in your concept before getting feedback from more diverse groups of people.

Testing ideas is a crucial step in the design thinking process. It's important to validate that you're on the right track and make sure that what you've created will actually work for your customers. Testing can be done using prototypes, surveys, interviews and other methods of observation. The most common types of testing include:

  • Stakeholder testing
  • Customer/user testing
  • Internal testing

These tests and evaluations will help you refine your ideas and prototypes until you’re left with the most useful solution.

Design Thinking Leads to Better Creative Solutions.

Design Thinking is a structured approach to problem solving that can be used in any industry and at any time and for any problem imaginable.

The best creative solutions come from defining better problems, not just coming up with solutions. Design thinking can help you do this by helping you understand who your users are and what their needs are—and then designing experiences that address those needs in an elegant and insightful way.

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