Monthly Dose of Design: Develop and Test Your Design Thinking Ideas

November 12, 2020

Nicholas Lee
Senior Creative Designer

The last three Monthly Dose of Design articles have discussed what Design Thinking (DT) is, what it means for, and how it can be used by, market researchers. We’ve also discussed DT’s Define and Develop phases.

This month we’ll look at the Deliver phase of Design Thinking.

A Quick Recap

By now, you’ll have:

  • Defined the design problem you need solving.
  • Formulated a ‘How Might We’ statement, framing how you’ll solve the problem
  • Create new ideas to solve it

Now, it’s time to prototype and test the best idea.  

What is the Deliver Phase?

It’s the only phase where Designers take the lead. The Deliver phase is when you turn your best ideas about how to solve your design problem into a prototype.

What’s a Prototype?

It’s a rough, initial form of the product or service that’ll solve your design problem. It can be built in many ways, that are mostly simple from a design perspective. It’s not the finished product.

Remember, Design Thinking is an iterative process where, based on feedback,  you’ll keep refining your prototype.

What Makes a Good Prototype?

The goal is to design a prototype that you can:

  • Test quickly
  • Learn from its successes or failures
  • Improve it quickly and efficiently

This means your prototype must be:

Easily adjustable: this allows you to include new ideas and for those to be retested

Quick to produce: instead of spending time on fine details at this stage, the goal is to get a general idea across to generate feedback.

Cheap to produce: because your prototype is likely to change, and less expensive prototypes are easier to discard and make room for new ideas.

Easy discardable: never be afraid to discard your prototype. Better solutions do appear during the Deliver phase. By not falling in love with a single idea means it’s easier to move on to success.

What Kind of Prototypes are There?

It’s essential to choose the most appropriate medium for your situation. Here are five examples:

Sketches and diagrams: drawings allow you to visualise your prototype and how it works. Keep them minimal and straightforward, so they are easy to understand.

Paper Interfaces: drawings that resemble the same dimensions you’re designing for giving you the freedom to create and multiple versions and test user flow. They can be used in this phase for digital solutions such as apps.

Storyboards: a visual sequence of how you want to show your product. It’s a way of breaking down the process into simple steps that show how your prototype will be used.

Videos: a recording or reproduction of moving visual images that demonstrate the prototype in action. Videos can be used for different solutions, from digital to service.

Physical Models: A physical mock-up is a 3D visualisation of your solution. This allows users to touch, smell, and physically evaluate your prototype.

Test and Develop Your Prototype

Now it’s time to test and validate your built prototype. As researchers, you’ll know all about the techniques. Instead, you’ll see below a step-by-step example of a high fidelity prototype for an anti-cyberbullying app that stops messages when profanity or hate is detected.

We started out with a low fidelity prototype (sketches and paper interfaces), shared ideas and improved upon them. Then, it was mass tested iteratively with the relevant audience (young people).

Step 1: Getting an opinion: our audience told us our initial prototype made them behave counterproductively. They felt they should be able to send a message if they wanted and that any ‘message block’ functions should be optional, not forced.

Step 2: Proposing new (hopefully better!) ideas: Instead of the ‘message block’ function, we proposed a ‘time delay’ one. This gave users the choice of whether to send a message or not. If they chose to send it, the keyboard places the outgoing message on a five-second timer before sending it to give the youth time to reflect.

Step 3: Asking about the benefits of the ‘time delay’ function: users agreed this was less intrusive while making them aware of their actions.

The example above demonstrates that testing can lead to new learning and improved viable and practical prototypes.  

Next Month

Next month we’ll look at a customised Market Research design thinking framework and how it plays towards market research’s strengths, including a look at how to turn research into a product.

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