It has been said that designers at Apple integrated design thinking into their strategies to come up with one of the most innovative products in recent memory – the iPod and iPhone. These products quickly transformed Steve Jobs into being THE guy in the world of business.
Steve Jobs, Apple’s legendary former CEO, believed that great design is not about adding buttons just for the sake of having buttons. For him, simplicity is beauty. One or two mouse clicks is better than five.
Other successful companies are making hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars utilizing design thinking as part of their process. A study made by the London Business School discovered that for every proportion of sales invested in product design, income grew by an average of 3 to 4 percent. Just ask Disney, IBM, and Microsoft.
What is design thinking?
While design thinking sounds like it is something the folks in I.T., as well as graphic designers, do, it is way more than that. Anyone can be trained to use design thinking in their daily tasks: businessmen, educators, marketers, and investors among others can be design thinkers.
Design thinking is a concept that businesses, as well as investors, use for constructive and innovative problem-solving. It does not just work for designers, it also supports people who are not trained as designers to apply creative tools to handle challenges they face at work and in their daily lives.
Design thinking is characterized as a customer-focused way to innovate. It reaches into the designer’s toolkit to blend the needs of consumers, the potentials of technology, and the demands for business success.
Design thinking is in its second wave as we can observe the acceleration of design-centered business management and human-centered design. This is not a stagnant idea and it evolves all the time. Design thinking concentrates on figuring out what people need and the experience of the end-user.
Why use design thinking?
Design thinking has emerged due to businesses’ need for creativity when it comes to developing new products and services that can serve the needs of customers. The customer is the main focus of this methodology.
Businesses who integrate design thinking in their processes consider people’s behavior, motivations, thinking, habits, ethnographic background, and overall needs. No longer is the focus on business-centric solutions, which is a positive development for all consumers regardless of the industry.
Principles of design thinking
There are four principles of design thinking, according to the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University.
1. The human rule
It means the design is an intrinsic quality in all humans.
2. The ambiguity rule
Problems can be ambiguous. It is open to interpretation, so it is crucial to remove all ambiguity limitations.
3. The redesign rule
In design thinking, we assume that all design is redesign. People are naturally looking for fresh ways to solve old problems at all times.
4. The tangibility rule
Through tangible ideas, we can communicate design ideas best. Tangible ideas allow better problem-solving, dialogue, and understanding.
Design versus design thinking
Design is the process of creating something unique into existence. It begins with defining the outcome of what the buyers expect. In the past, companies did not focus as heavily on the consumer’s needs. There was this belief that if you build it, they will buy it. Businesses, brand professionals, and marketers who develop strategies are already doing this, and they are, in essence, designing.
Employing design thinking strategies can help companies save large amounts of money because it funnels directly into consumer needs. Design thinking offers an uncomplicated way to focus on what the problems are. It also gives new insights and critical data for creating solutions that generate income for the business.
In the days before design thinking, companies who needed to release new products often developed expensive campaigns. Now, companies get to manufacture better products and at a faster rate. They also enjoy increased savings.
Another positive result of design thinking is that companies report improved customer feedback.
Design thinking in tech
When it comes to technology, many companies are now also focusing on better user experience by way of design thinking. Up until the last couple of decades, companies produced their products, then left it to their sales and marketing people to sell them. This practice applied across multiple industries.
Fortunately, well-known companies in the technology industry turned things around. Apple and Amazon got to know their consumers and created exceptional experiences for them. Soon after, many other companies followed suit like Airbnb and Uber, which took design thinking to another level. They simply removed everything not directly related to the user experience.
In the financial technology sector, many of the jobs currently available relate to UX designing, since the user experience is at the forefront of every fintech company. That is why almost every startup in fintech is focused on the consumer and how they can enhance their experience. These fintech companies provide services like peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, and payment solutions, to name a few.
Technology is now making its presence felt in the institutional space. And, along with these modern technologies, companies are introducing design thinking.
Fintechs pay attention to the strategic direction of the user. They are familiar with the degree to which a user will lose interest in the product. They can establish functionality that enhances that efficiency for the user. In doing this, companies make sure there is user adoption, and they are also able to improve productivity.
Fund managers and investors have plenty of tools at their disposal to assist them with risk management, factor analysis, accessing liquidity, and portfolio construction. However, these products did lack design thinking in the past. No matter how useful the product companies produce, if users cannot figure out how to use them, they will not be adopted or widely used.
Fintech companies understand that fund managers and investors are busy people, and if their products are too cumbersome to use, they will walk away from them. With design thinking, their products become more user-friendly, leading to a better experience.
Why should businesses invest in design thinking?
1. Improving the user experience (UX) saves money
Better UX leads to decreased cost of customer support and higher savings.
2. Increases revenue
Businesses that focus on UX experience increase their income and conversion rates. It also improves customer loyalty.
3. Drives competitive advantage
Companies with competitive advantage enjoy higher revenues.
By embracing better design thinking, business leaders can facilitate innovation, discover unique ways to approach and communicate with consumers, lead research and development, increase market share, expand products, strengthen customer relationships, and much more.
The importance of user experience as a result of design thinking is fascinating when correlating a user experience project to another investment with similar business goals. There were plenty of social networks before Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook to the world. There was a myriad of smartphone brands before Apple’s iPhone exploded onto the scene. We were already using taxis to travel before Uber came.
These businesses all focused on delighting customers and giving them the best experience possible, and these were made possible because they blended design thinking and strategic planning.
The winner here, of course, are businesses, and ultimately their customers.