Design Thinking: Before

September 17, 2016

The term, “design thinking,” is overused. To me, it means focusing on the end user of a product when designing something. Don’t be an engineer who’s excited about cool features. Put yourself in the shoes of the person using it – a child, a grandma, a diabetic teenager, a veteran – and find out what they are excited about. Then design it. Simple, right?

I’ll find out tomorrow at a Design Thinking Workshop held by HTE@USC and will report back!

Off the top of my head (no Googling), here are a few principles of design thinking:

  1. Form Follows Function: First, make sure the product works as it should. Then, you can make it look pretty (but don’t underestimate the importance of aesthetics!)
  2. KISS – “Keep It Simple, Stupid”: The best design is the simplest design. If one button is enough, don’t add a second one.
  3. 360 degree User Flow: Go step-by-step through the use case of the product to understand how the product will be used, by whom, and how to design it to prevent mistakes. For an implantable medical device, there could be many users—the nurse, the surgeon, and the patient

A couple processes in design thinking (no Googling, I promise):

  1. Needs Finding: Basically talk to people to figure out what problem you want to solve. What problems are they facing? Is the problem you’ve chosen meaningful and interesting to you, and to society or the end user?
  2. Brainstorming: This can be used to find a problem or to find a design solution. It involves thinking of all possibilities, writing them down in a visual format like a spider web, and not throwing out any ideas.

Thinking creatively to design something new is a process. That may sound counterintuitive but here’s why it’s not. Usually, ideas don’t just pop into someone’s head. It’s a result of gnawing on a problem, doodling, and experience solving similar problems.

Putting design thinking into practice is the hard part. How do I change the way I think so that I can design better? What exercises can I practice to help me be creative? How can I use this in my daily life so that my skills aren’t rusty when it finally comes time to design a product? Maybe the workshop tomorrow will give me some tools.

Published on September 17th, 2016

Last updated on March 22nd, 2021