Intro to Design Thinking

Design thinking is an iterative and solution-based approach to solving problems. It provides a framework in which we can understand our users.

 

“Design thinking is the glue between all disciplines.”
– Arne van Oosterom, DesignThinkers Academy

WCGT Design Process

To help us design services within a complex institution, we use a design process based on the Design Council’s Double Diamond and the Stanford d.school model. Having a process allows us to overcome the complexity to fully understand the problems, explore, test and deliver solutions.

 

The design diagram is a graphical way of describing the design process. There are five phases in this diagram: planning the project; discovering insight; defining the problem; designing the solution; and embedding the chosen design.

Plan

The Plan phase allows the team to effectively plan and prepare at the beginning of every project. It’s useful to undertake a user research audit to gather the relevant data and insights to determine what you know and need to learn.

Discover

Rather than just assuming what the problem is, the focus of the Discovery phase is to develop an understanding of the users and the related services. It’s important to understand the experiences, needs and pain points of the people using and working within the services.  

Define

Using the insights and data gathered during the Discovery phase, we can start to identify key themes and make sense of what we have learnt. By defining the problems faced, we can uncover opportunities for improvement.

Design

During Design, we use what we have learnt to co-design solutions with the people who will use and work with the services. We build, test and iterate solutions to ensure we are meeting user needs and addressing the defined problems.

Deliver

Embedding and delivering the agreed design solution is not the end of the process. We need to make sure the service continues to meet user needs through feedback loops and continuous improvement.  

 

Focus on the what, not the how

A key principle of design thinking is ‘show me, don’t tell me’; it’s important to validate research and continue the dialogue with users into delivery through regular testing and engagement.

Throughout the design process, the WCGT team produces several tangible artefacts such as personas and service blueprints. These design tools help us to communicate what we have learnt with our stakeholders. It is important to be able to be flexible and sometimes it is important to revisit tools and methods across the design lifecycle, or consider approaches from other methodologies such as Lean and Systems Thinking.  The important thing to focus on is having the right mindset; define the right problem to design the right solution.

 

This table includes examples of artefacts that the team would produce for a design project. Each of these examples are aligned to the five phases of the design process. As part of the discovery phase, the team would use methods such as user interviews, journey mapping or conduct a workshop to gather insights.

Examples of artefacts that the WCGT team produce for a design project

 

We will continue to update our Design Toolkit with useful methods and guides that can be used during the design process.

Design Council Double Diamond and Stanford d.school Design Process

Double Diamond

The Design Council’s Double Diamond is a clear and visual description of the design process that we have adopted and adapted for use within the University. The two diamonds represent the process of exploring issues more deeply or widely (divergent thinking) or defining and taking focused action (convergent thinking).

The Double Diamond diagram is a graphical way of describing the design process. The structure is two squares at an angle. The first diamond represents the research phase, the second diamond is the design phase.

The ‘Double Diamond’ Design Process Model (Design Council UK, 2005)

 

Stanford d.school 

The Stanford d.school shows five modes that have been identified as components of designt thinking.

The model proposed by the Stanford design school has five stages of design thinking: Empathise; Define the problem; Ideate; Prototype; and Test.

5 steps design thinking model, Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (d.school)

Empathise:

  • Observe how users interact with their environment
  • Engage with users directly
  • Immerse yourself in your users' experience

Define:

  • Develop an understanding of the type of person you are designing for
  • Reframe your challenge based on new insights gained through your empathy work

Ideate:

  • 'Go wide' during idea generation to uncover unexpected areas of exploration
  • Avoid evaluating during idea generation to step beyond obvious solutions and drive innovation

Prototype:

  • Create prototypes to test and refine solutions
  • Develop multiple concepts to test in parallel
  • Inspire others by showcasing the designs

Test:

  • Gather feedback, refine solutions and continue to learn about your users
  • Place prototypes in the appropriate context of your user's journey
  • Build empathy through observation and engagement

Design thinking is more than just a process, it offers a collection of hands-on methods to help you apply a new mindset to solving problems. 

 

What is service design?

Service design can be used to improve an existing service to make it work better for its users, or it can be used to create a new service.

“Service design helps organisations see their services from a customer perspective. It is an approach to designing services that balances the needs of the customer with the needs of the business, aiming to create seamless and quality service experiences. Service design is rooted in design thinking, and brings a creative, human-centred process to service improvement and designing new services.” – crowdsourced by Megan Erin Miller

 
Key Components of Service Design

Three main components of service design are:

  • Props: the physical or digital artefacts that are needed to deliver a successful service
  • People: anyone who uses the service, as well as those who may be indirectly affected by it
  • Processes: workflows or activities performed throughout the service

The diagram by the Nielsen Norman Group describes the three main components of service design. These are People, Props and Processes.

Service Design 101, Nielson Norman Group

What is the user experience?

Enhancing the user experience is an important part of human-centred design. User experience is a measure of a user’s interaction with an organisation, it’s services and products. 

You cannot directly design the experience, as an experience is the result of a user interacting with a product or service. However, you can identify what makes a good experience versus a bad one by researching, designing and testing.

User experience, often referred to as UX, is most often associated with digital design. Our colleagues within Information Services and the Webteam have some helpful information on this element of UX.

UX Framework (Information Services): If you work on a website, app, online service or business system for UofG students or staff, find out more about the UX Framework and how it will help you give them the best possible experience.

UX to improve your website (Webteam): The University Webteam can assist you with conducting user-testing on any t4 website and recommend how to organise your content.

WCGT approach UX across the whole user experience, this includes digital but we focus on the holistic user experience across the multichannel or sometimes referred to ‘omnichannel’ experience. We adapt this depending on the projects we are working on and what our users tell us.

How we can help

The WCGT Design team can share a range of user research and collaborative design methods with your team. 

Get in touch with us at wcgt-design@glasgow.ac.uk to explore the ways we can help.