How To Improve User Experience With Design Thinking

What’s the Difference?

To better understand design thinking, we must first understand what the user interface and user experience are. User Interface (UI) refers to the visual look of an application. Imagine filling out a form online. You will see input fields and buttons – their colours, fonts, size, and the overall look.

On the other hand, User Experience (UX) refers to the user’s interaction with the screen. So if you were to fill out the online form, how fast and intuitive can you accomplish it? Do users struggle to locate the buttons? Are the input fields properly labelled?

These all contribute to the overall experience of your users.

Why is it Important?

You’d be surprised to know how fast users easily detach themselves from a bad user experience. Statistics show that 88% of customers will not return to an online shopping site if they’ve struggled using it. And this is critical for any online business that wants to stay afloat.

Losing users equates to losing customers. And we all know that losing customers means losing potential business revenue.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a methodology that you can employ to determine the right UI/UX solution. The typical problem for anyone wanting to launch a website or app is that they jump on the UI design too hastily. We consider the colours and branding but fail to realise the effectiveness and usability.

Here is one example:

Suppose you have a dashboard telling you the danger levels for each floor of a building. Safe areas are depicted in green and dangerous areas are represented in red.

But what if you have a user that is colour blind? How would they now know which area is safe and which is dangerous?

What if we tell you that you could solve the issue by adding a simple component? Putting a small legend below each colour can eliminate any uncertainty.

So, which of the two do you think is a better UI/UX solution?

What are the Stages in Design Thinking?

To determine the best UI/UX solution, you can break design thinking into several stages/phases.

1. Empathise

To empathise is to understand your users. You will only know this by talking to them, interviewing them, and involving them.

If you work with your clients, you will be able to put yourself in their shoes because your clients are the best people to tell you the problems and issues they are having.

However, they may not be able to express themselves in screens and wireframes – which is why you are there to facilitate and bridge that.

Once you begin to understand their priorities, challenges, and desires, you can put those at the centre of your solution. And that is the only way you can validate if you are working towards that goal.

2. Define

To define is to go more in detail into what clients want and need.

Sometimes, what they say they want is not exactly what is best. And this is because there are many ways you can define a solution. But which is the best one – you’ve yet to find out.

The best way to define what is needed is to ask and challenge it. This does not mean that you end up fighting with your clients. But you should be able to guide them into framing topics that relate to each other and could be focused on.

3. Ideate

To ideate is to define options and possibilities.

Once you listen to everybody’s input, you will be surprised at how capable your clients are at defining the solution that works for them.

This phase will require putting ideas on the table, drawing them or laying them out, challenging them respectfully, and working together to arrive at the best possible approach.

In most cases, ideas will conflict with another participant. And this is up to you to manage because, at the end of the day, it should be a solution that everybody can agree upon. To work your way through this, you can challenge the ideas and even provide your expert opinion on the matter.

4. Prototype

To prototype is to build on the solution itself.

A prototype is not necessarily the whole solution but rather a product that is enough to cover most of the scenarios. It is only a partial solution and not a full one because we want to give way for possible revisions.

The effort and time it takes to finish a whole solution only to end up scrapping a lot of it is riskier than starting with a skeleton and just building on top.

5. Test

To test means that we put the product up for actual use but with limited users.

This is one of the most critical phases because it draws feedback on what works and what doesn’t. It also presents an opportunity to have a user experience for the clients themselves.

It is usually at this stage that appreciation of the output comes in. When clients work together to build a solution with the designers, they can arrive at a good working solution. So don’t miss this step as it can be crucial to your whole project.

6. Implement

To implement means to finish the solution and officially launch it.

If you have followed the stages, the implementation stage should pose fewer questions. All doubts and clarifications would’ve been handled at the start, and if something still pops up, you will likely be prepared for it.

What are the Benefits of Applying Design Thinking?

If you properly facilitate the Design Thinking process, you will understand that this is far greater than implementing designs blindly.

Not only will you save time and effort, but you will also be closer to what customers will actually use. This also means that you are saving money in developing a solution and maintaining your product because you likely have anticipated what they will already need.

The design thinking methodology is not a one-day activity. It is a series of events that helps you arrive at the best possible UI/UX design.

You can apply it to new products or even existing products. Furthermore, it is flexible, iterative, and collaborative.

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