Article by Yonca Kaya
4th year student
One of the mandatory courses you will have to take in the second year studying Creative Business is Human Centered Design. In this class you will learn about a model that will be the foundation for many other courses plus your graduation project: The Design Thinking Model. It consists of the steps empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. While it might sound rather complex, it really is not. You just have to go step by step.
Let’s start with the first one: Empathize
Firstly, what even is empathy? Empathy is our ability to see the world through other people’s eyes, meaning you attempt to see what they see, feel what they feel and experience the way they experience. To sum it up: Empathizing is all about understanding your target audience or as IDEO phrases it, to gain “deep understanding of the problems and realities of the people you are designing for”. I personally consider this the most fun one, since you can get away from the screen and go out in the field. You then have to conduct interviews, do observations and also conduct some desk research. The goal is to identify people’s needs, values and their motivations so it is integral to dig deep. There are various different methods, a few instances are asking the 5 why’s, engaging with extreme users or creating journey maps.
The 2nd step: Define
This one is about gathering the information that has been collected in the previous step. This translates into you having to define the problem your target audience is experiencing. There are diverse methods that can be applied, one of them being the definition of a problem statement. Other options are creating an empathy map or generating how-might-we questions. Once this step is completed, you will know what it is your target audience is specifically struggling with.
The 3rd step: Ideation
This step calls for quantity instead of quality, it is about creating as many ideas as possible. You are now asked to think outside of the box and beyond the obvious. There are countless of methods to do so, a few are named braindump, storyboard, bodystorm and crowdstorm. You can move around, write, draw, paint, craft- there are no limits to your creativity.
The 4th step: Prototyping
The task is to start creating solutions which enables you to bring your ideas to life. You should invest time into this step, because it is a foundation for your end product. Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO describes the prototyping process with the following words: “They slow us down to speed us up. By taking the time to prototype our ideas, we avoid costly mistakes such as becoming too complex too early and sticking with a weak idea for too long.”
But don’t you worry, this is not about creating an actual product, but instead just a model. This can be done on paper, in form of a role play, a story board or even with Lego blocks.
The 5th step: Testing
This is a fairly easy step: You simply present your prototypes to the users and ask for feedback. This is crucial, if not the most crucial step of them all, as this unravels insights and possible problems, as in, will the product actually solve the user’s problem or not. Talk to as many users as possible! This is the final step, however you have to iterate, iterate and iterate. Depending on the feedback you receive, you have to go back to the prototyping or even the ideation phase.
While some of the steps might seem annoying at the beginning, at the end it will all make sense and you will certainly realize how useful this model is.