5 ways you can bring design thinking into your business.

Profile photo of Emma Campbell

Emma Maguire (née Campbell)

January 25, 2023

Woman sitting at desk going darwing a design thinking exersise on an A3 sheet of paper.

Having a plan for integrating user experience into your business operations is crucial for establishing trust and respect for your organisation. Implementing design thinking techniques will assist your team in discovering research-based findings, resulting in success for both the team and the company.

If you haven’t already established user experience practices and would like to develop a more user-centred approach to your team’s projects, we’ve got some ideas to help. The best part is that these are achievable without needing a dedicated UX resource on your team.

1. Include your users at the beginning of a project.

It’s essential to bring your users to the forefront at the start of a project and continue referring to them throughout. Find out who would use your product, why they would use it, and what their motivations are. 

You can get these insights by running one-on-one user interviews, usability testing of your product or conducting user observations. These activities can be as extensive as budget and time allow. It’s always better to be informed by a few real-life users versus assumptions made by your internal team.

2. Learn about design thinking and its principles.

Educating yourself and your team on design thinking and its principles is an ideal first step to incorporating the method into your projects. There are plenty of resources online to help you learn more about this approach and how to apply it in your business. The Nielsen Norman Group's "Design Thinking 101" article is a great place to start.

What is design thinking? 

It's essentially an iterative process which revolves around understanding your users, challenging assumptions and generating more creative and innovative solutions. This is followed by creating prototypes to test with users and gain feedback. 

Design thinking is a shift in mindset which enables different ideas, methods, solutions and the ability to work dynamically to encourage innovation. 

The process includes five key phases and isn't linear. The stages include: 

  1. Empathise
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test
Image from Nielsen Norman Group - 'Design Thinking 101'

3. Encourage collaboration among teams.

Design thinking involves refining and testing ideas, so creating a culture of collaboration, creativity and experimentation within your organisation is important. The more people involved, the more varied perspectives you'll gain, which will help ensure you've looked at different possibilities for your product for a better outcome.

Sharing your research findings with your team will help them gain awareness of your work, who your users are and the importance of considering users as part of the process. In addition, involving stakeholders at the beginning will ensure you get buy-in from key decision-makers and align UX strategy with overarching business goals.

4. Identify a specific opportunity or challenge your business is facing.

One way to introduce design thinking to your business is to pick a specific problem and go through the five phases of design thinking. For example, you could focus on getting more people to sign up to your newsletter,  improving the upgrade experience, or making onboarding more straightforward for your customer. By placing the user at the centre of the design process, you'll be better able to understand and address their needs, leading to new and innovative solutions. To get started, choose a short project and have your team work through the design thinking process. Here are some questions to help guide you: 

  • Empathise: Who are the users that engage with this part of the experience? What are their needs, wants, pain points, behaviours, habits and motivations? 
  • Define: What problem are we trying to solve for the user? How can we clearly frame the problem, and are there user needs or constraints we need to consider?
  • Ideate: How will we solve this problem? What are the strengths and weaknesses of our ideas? Can we combine ideas to create new solutions? 
  • Prototype: What is the minimum viable solution we need to test our ideas? How can we quickly and inexpensively create a prototype? What are the key features? 
  • Test: How can we test the prototype with users? What are the key metrics we can use to evaluate the prototype? How can we improve the prototype based on user feedback?

5. Continuously evaluate and improve.

As you learn more about design thinking and apply it to your business, take the time to reflect on what's working and what's not. Doing this will allow you to evolve and improve your approach continuously. Every business is different, so what might be right for someone else may not be right for you.

Still feeling stuck?

At Bo Studio, we're all about creating great customer experiences. If you're struggling to bring design thinking into your business, or just want to make sure your current project has a user-centric approach, get in touch. We'd be happy to chat and help out however we can.

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