How To Use Design Thinking To Optimize Your Business
By Celeste Zosimo, 07/08/19
Every business owner, whether big companies or startups, should always keep in mind their customers’ experience with their brand. Optimizing it means optimizing your business and gaining a strong market ranking. This is where the design thinking strategy comes in.
Sometimes called “design-based strategy,” using this approach to your business can prove to be very beneficial. You might not be fully aware of its powerful potential yet. But if you have the right talent available to you, design thinking may be one of the best approaches you can get for your company.
What is Design Thinking?
Design thinking is the cognitive, strategic, and practical process by which design concepts are developed by designers and/or design teams. It is used for new products, buildings, machines, and many more. Using it as a marketing strategy for your business means focusing on empathy and understanding your customers with research.
When designing for your business, keep the customer experience in mind as early as the start of the product development process. More so with designing your marketing materials. By focusing on your customers first, you will have the insight to create useful products and services. Some examples of businesses that use this approach are Disney, Google, and Apple. They are widely known for disrupting their respective industries with superior customer experience. This landed them on the top tier of their niches.
This is probably the best time to take a closer look at your design team, or if you don’t have one, hire one. Design thinking drives innovation and a good design team must know how to create designs that are appealing to your customers as well as provide solutions to the most common marketing problems.
Here are the five steps of the design thinking process that you should start using for your company to drive it forward to success:
Empathize with Your Customers
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers to be able to give them a better experience with your brand. The use of good business practices mixed with excellent design skills will amount to nothing if these aren’t human-centric. Know what your customers want, what they need, and what will make them choose you over the others.
Listen and speak to them. There are many ways you can do this. The bottom line is, it’s essential for you to get to know them. You’ll be surprised at all the discoveries you’ll make like the unconventional ways they use your products (your water bottle looks so good, they make flower pots out of them). Think of ways to improve your products or services using your customers’ perspective.
Define Your Customers’ Wants and Needs
Now that you know who you’re designing for, learn about what they want, what they need, and what their problems are. Think of ways you can solve these with your product or service. Having insights on your customers’ problems will let you solve them with ideas gathered from your research about them. You’ll then get a clearer view of what the most important factors are that your end-users require.
Once you know what your customers want, you can then make adjustments to your products or services that will create a perfect fit in their lives. Understand their expectations and learn how to meet them. That way, you can tweak your products to give them what they are looking for exactly.
Based on what you’ve learned about your target market, you can now create ideas that are ripe for innovations. Did you design your package because it’s what everybody does? How about thinking out of the box and creating something extraordinary?
To put it simply, don’t go by the book. However, don’t stress yourself out thinking of new ideas that are both creative and are applicable to your customers’ needs, but will burn you out in the process. This should be an exciting process and you must do your exploration with adventure and passion.
Collaborate with your team to come up with ideas that are fresh and new and will contribute to your company’s success as well as enrich your customers’ user experience. Make brainstorming a regular activity for everyone in your company and encourage new ideas however wacky or wild they may be, who knows what you’ll come up with?
Create a Prototype
To know if what you had devised will bring delight to your customers, build a prototype. You’ll know if what you had come up with delivers solutions to customers. To do this, you can make an early model of your idea in a scaled-down and inexpensive version.
You can test and see how your customers react to this new product and record user performance levels. And since this is a prototype—a watered-down version of your idea—you can easily make adjustments without spending a lot of time and money. In case the idea isn’t at par with what you have in mind, you can also discard it easily and create a new one.
Test for Solutions
This is where you’ll use what you’ve learned in the prototyping stage. Build a product that has been altered and redesigned according to the problems that you have identified in the previous stage. Test them on your audience but don’t be discouraged if you still encounter issues with it, first attempts are seldom right anyway, the key here is perseverance.
When doing a test, always get a measure of how your customers reacted to the product to get better insights. This can lead to more brainstorming, more new ideas, and more innovations that can take you back to the ideation or prototyping stages. These are never a waste of time or money as more information collected means more ways to improve your customers’ experience.
The design thinking process is a never-ending one. When you use these techniques to improve your customers’ journey, you’re setting yourself up for growth. Your customers will love you for it and it’s what really should matter, after all, they’re the reason that your brand exists.