Morpheus saying "what if I told you design thinking is a verb not a noun"

Teacher Response to Homework #2: Design Is Thinking

Business Keeping

Grades on Canvas, as always.

What Is Design? It’s Thinking

Design thinking is the human centered approach to innovation. This way of thinking is often used to solve a problem creatively and formulate ideas. Design thinking puts together a human viewpoint to what can make things in our life more successful or useful. The three components of design thinking are: desirability, feasibility and viability. – Heather

A lot of people think that design is simply making visual deliverables. Designers make things like logos, icons, and other artifacts. They can have a conversation with someone and instantly translate that conversation into a beautiful, great-looking design.

In reality, good designers need to be able to do a lot more than making pretty things. They need to be able to:

  • Collaborate with other kinds of professionals like content strategists, technical communicators and ux¬†designers
  • Translate complex business and user goals into appropriate artifacts ranging from rough sketches to ready-to-launch prototypes
  • Work through complex problems by producing a wide variety of deliverables that respond to various intermediate steps in a design process, including getting team members on the same page and critiquing previous designs

This is why the term “design thinking” is probably one of the best descriptors for what a good design process should do: it should deliver a usable product to a human being that takes into account the context in which that human being will be using the product.

Critique Ensures Quality

A design critique is meant to assess something that already exists, versus coming up with ideas for a possible something. Normally a design critique consists of 3-7 people and is meant to discuss sketches/prototypes. It is essentially a meeting that provides constructive criticism that the creator will use for improvement. Some goals for the design critique are to obtain feedback for design approaches for a website, compare different components of the same product, discuss flow of a design though screen sequence, explore design of competing products, and allow teammates with different jobs to give feedback. It allows for the design team to all come to the same page on a project, ask questions, give thoughts/ideas, receive constructive criticism, discuss problems, and work together. – Emily

Another thing that people misunderstand about design is the purpose of doing design critiques. The way to understand design critiques is the way design used to happen:

  • Create an idea
  • Design a product around an idea
  • Deploy product
  • Maybe usability test
  • Update product if needed

This very linear and design-centric process often failed for obvious reasons: users of the product weren’t included until the end.

Enter user-centered design processes that look more like this:

  • Do stakeholder interviews about what problems they’re trying to solve
  • Create a prototype
  • Test the prototype
  • Refine the prototype
  • Repeat as needed until user goals and business goals align
  • Deploy product
  • Continue to refine as needed

These processes require a different method of design, a method that looks a lot more like design thinking. So, between the steps of a user-centered design process, the following is happening in some form:

  • Do stakeholder interviews about what problems they’re trying to solve
  • Do competitor analysis of other designs
  • Create a prototype
  • Design critique of prototype
  • Test the prototype
  • Design critique of prototype
  • Refine the prototype
  • Repeat as needed until user goals and business goals align
  • Design critique of prototype at each iteration
  • Deploy product
  • Continue to refine as needed
  • Design critique as user goals and/or business goals change

So, design critiques are what teams do as they’re working on projects to ensure that the product is iterating in the right direction.

Another context for design critiques is when they are¬†done with users. Sometimes it’s the right move to put a design in front of users and let them critique it. What you learn from this is not specific things you should change, however, but how users perceive the product in a very qualitative way.

The larger point, however, is that all good designs are carefully vetted by designers, and often by more than one designer, before they are ever deployed. This ensures that the design meets minimum quality standards and that issues brought up in past iterations have been dealt with.

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