“Design thinking” is a new phrase that has recently become popular within the design and marketing world, but it is also a concept that is important for all people to understand. On its surface, design thinking is a creative problem-solving process that seeks to discover the user or person we are designing for. A pillar of this process is empathy, as being able to relate to our audience in a personal way improves our ability to produce products that best serve their interests. Design thinking questions our underlying assumptions that we may not even be aware that we have. When one is able to question our underlying implications and assumptions about a certain problem or group of people we are trying to target, we are then better able to create solutions that address all facets of a problem.
So how can we apply this concept to our planning processes and when we are creating content for clients? There are many ways that people go about implementing design thinking, but simply put, it is putting yourself in the client's shoes. It is understanding that you don’t understand the client, even if you think that you may be well acquainted with their insights, thoughts, and opinions. It is being continually open to new information and applying new discoveries and insights to the design process. I am an artist and relate this process to creating a painting. Most artists, before they paint, make an underlying rough sketch. After this sketch, they start adding a rough painting on top of the sketch. The painting is not yet perfect, but a viewer can understand what the object is. After these rough layers dry, the artist reworks the painting and adds details that make the subject come to life. In the same way, designers are going through the same process. They are making a rough “sketch” of the product, but changing it as they discover how it looks at different angles, or from different perspectives. They have to be open to changing their original sketch in the hopes that the final better represents the object they are replicating.
Design thinking is a process, and as with any process it takes time for it to become a habit. The next time you are starting a new project or working with a new client, ask those questions that dig deeper into the “who” and “why” you are designing something!