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My Thinking on Design Thinking

There seems to be a fair amount of controversy about the term design thinking in UX circles these days. But, no matter what you call it, the iterative design process is a powerful approach that I have fully incorporated into my UX design practice. In my experience, it leads to identifying problems and finding solutions faster. By truly understanding the user's needs and the requirements of the business stakeholders, all the tools of discovery, research, design and testing can be unleashed to reveal new and unexpected insights that lead to a superior product.

The process is not linear, it's flexible and fluid and gets more precise and focused with each iteration.


Below, I outline the steps and methods that I use when approaching a UX project. 


Understand the Big Picture

The discovery phase involves learning about the business goals, the opportunities and the challenges. Discovery is crucial because without knowing the landscape it's impossible to devise a strategy to solve the problem at hand. 

Tools and methods include(but are not limited to):

• Identify Business Goals

• Identify Opportunities

• Identify Challenges

• Heuristic Evaluation

• Competitive Analysis

• Comparative Analysis


Finding Out What Users Need

The research phase is where I use a series of UX tools and methods to understand the behaviors, needs and attitudes of real users to gain insights that will guide the design of the product.

Tools and methods include(but are not limited to):

• Interviews

• Surveys

• Affinity Maps

• Task Flows

• Persona Development

• Journey Mapping

• Card Sorting

• Feature Prioritization

• User Flow


Putting the Pieces Together

This is where concept starts to become reality. What is the visual representation that brings together all my research and analysis? How does it look and feel? How does a user interact with it to get the most value in the most effortless and delightful way?

Tools and methods include(but are not limited to):

• Design Studio

• Site Mapping

• Low Fidelity Wire Frames

• Mid Fidelity Wire Frames

• High Fidelity Wire Frames

• Mood Board

• Feature Prioritization


Failure is Not a Bad Word

Getting prototypes into the hands of actual users is a very powerful way of validating your design decisions and finding out if they actually have the utility and value that you think they do. This is where it's important to fail fast. The goal is to get the maximum amount of learning with the minimum amount of effort. I tend to use medium fidelity wireframes for my paper prototypes because I can do them faster and make them more readable than low fidelity paper prototypes. For high fidelity clickable prototypes I will use inVision or Principle.

Tools and methods include(but are not limited to):

• Paper Prototypes

• Clickable Prototypes


Use the Power of Design Thinking

As I said earlier, this is an iterative non-linear process. The true power of design thinking and agile methodologies become evident when they are used in conjunction with the arsenal of tools and techniques that are part of the UX process.

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