What is design thinking?
Design Thinking is a methodology that puts people first.
“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
— Tim Brown, president and CEO, IDEO.
What this means is that design thinking is a methodology that revolves around the experience of its users. Whenever a product or a project is developed, the focus is on the solution and not the problem. The aim is to design a solution that best suits its users, and not one that only solves a technical challenge.
While the design (look & feel) of a product or solution is clearly important, this is only one piece of the puzzle, as design thinking focuses on the whole aspects of a solution, the look & feel, usage, user satisfactions and benefits.
“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
— Steve Jobs, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Inc.
Why is design thinking important?
An assessment of the Design Management Institute shows that design centric companies like Apple, Coca Cola, IBM and Nike have outperformed the S&P 500 index over a period of 10 years by about 228% (read more).
This study clearly shows that companies putting the user experience in focus are more prosperous. Hence, a focus on user experience yields better value for the shareholders.
The stages of design thinking
Each stage of the methodology involves a deep human interaction and understanding:
- Discovery – The first stage of design thinking is to gain an empathic understanding of the problem that needs to be solved. Get involved, gather knowledge, and observe the users, empathising with people to understand their experiences and motivations. Get a deep personal understanding of the issues involved. Empathy is crucial in this process to understand the users and gain insight into their needs.
- Interpretation – Analyse the observations from the previous stage. Synthesise the data gathered in the previous stage, to define the problems that you and your team have identified.
- Ideation – Start to generate ideas. Think outside the box, innovate. There are various ideation techniques that can be used to stimulate thinking and generating ideas that you can use, for example: Brainstorming, Collaborative Sketching, and Reverse Thinking. Try to find new solutions, get as many new ideas as possible at the beginning and refine them during the ideation process.
- Experimentation – Prototype: build one or more inexpensive prototypes and test them. This is an iterative process whose purpose is to validate the ideas. Share the prototypes, let your team test them, but also include people outside of the team, for example the future real-time user. Get their feedback, and if required re-iterate the Ideation process.
- Evolution – Implement the best ideas. Test the final product, gather feedback, and monitor the user’s experience. This will probably reveal various issues and aspects that will require a refinement of the product. It is important to understand the context of the products use, how people interact with it and how they feel about it. Use this knowledge to further improve the product.
SAP Fiori and design thinking
SAP Fiori is the answer of SAP for the requirements for better user experience.
It is a design guide and design standard for business applications.
It is the new face of SAP for the business user with a focus on the end-to-end user experience.
It not only provides a better-looking design of the applications, but also enables the delivery of business applications to basically any platform an end-user might be using, desktop or mobile.
While SAP Fiori is the design guide for the user experience that business applications shall offer to their users, the SAPUI5 libraries provides the tools for easily building applications on desktop or mobile devices that follow the SAP Fiori guidelines.
But it does not stop there.
These are only a part of the ecosystem that SAP is slowly building to facilitate the use of the design thinking methodology. Tools like SAP Web IDE and quick prototyping tools like build emerge and are continuously improved in order to provide development teams the tools to support them in the design thinking process.
With SAP Fiori and the new ecosystem emerging around it, SAP also strongly encourages the adoption of the design thinking methodology to improve the business processes for companies.
As for the real business value of using design thinking and focusing on UX, this is a topic we have covered in another article.