Putting Users At The Centre Of Your Design Thinking
Design is a slippery beast. At the functional end of the arts, it’s forever evolving and expanding its lexicon.
Communicating what words can’t say, and amplifying what they can, is no easy task. This is even despite the myriad of tools, both conceptual and vocational, available to the modern designer.
In the past, designers relied on their prior experience and client briefs to piece together a picture of the audience. Then they tried to actively communicate with them visually. But in this era of big data, there is a bunch of stuff available to help you gauge just who your audience is. This better for you and them, if you think about it!
Say you sell furniture. Previously you would run ads in newspapers and magazines and maybe had a website and ran social media campaigns to reach your audience. On the design side, you’d make these ads, chuck them into your media and digital spaces and hope for the best. Deciding what worked and what didn’t relied on basic trial and error.
Now you can split-test specific creative ideas to see what imagery and layouts resonate the strongest with your audience. You can build user personas and journeys to further increase engagement. You can target specific market segments from both a marketing and design perspective.
Building on Data With Design Thinking
You can leverage design thinking to map your campaigns out. Not sure what that is? As Tim Brown, CEO of international design and consulting firm IDEO explains “Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”
It’s a methodology that means starting with your users, defining their problems and then creating a range of ideas, some of which challenge assumptions, and then prototyping and testing until you come with solutions.
While it’s very useful harnessing intelligence like this to sharpen your creative, it can also have pitfalls, such as the homogenisation of creative output. For example, see your Facebook feed and how structured it is to reinforce your world view. This should be a signal for a more cautious approach to visual communication.
On the plus side, design can be better informed, as long as meaningful data can be provided to designers. This should lead to more conversations about what design and design thinking are actually worth and hopefully, finally, people will realise that design is more than just the superficial about “how it looks”.
Good design is really about “how it works”.