Design Thinking

It’s all about the user.

Design Thinking is at the core of my process. It starts with the user and empathy research. Sometimes, this involves conducting one-on-one interviews to uncover user emotions and seek stories. Other times, I meet with focus groups within the target audience or construct surveys to gather information via social media and email campaigns. I enjoy talking with people and learning more about their motivations and needs through empathizing with them and taking on a beginner’s curious mindset. I love the surprises that pop up during empathy research.

Then I define the problem, which often includes reframing the problem to identify meaningful surprises and tensions within a system. In this stage, “how might we” questions are helpful to narrow the scope of the problem and clarify inferred insights.

Ideation comes next, the stage where opening options, building on each others’ ideas, and suspending judgements is necessary. I “go wide” to uncover unexpected areas of potential and drive beyond obvious solutions to explore the collective perspectives of the team. One of my favorite techniques is a saturate and group activity because it places all participants even ground; introverts and extroverts can both comfortably share ideas and explore together.

At this point, I’m ready to prototype. This is where I get to explore multiple solutions and break a larger problem down into smaller, testable chunks. I enjoy working with agile methodologies that give my design skills space to play as well as connection points with team members and the opportunity. I use sketches, wireframes, and paper and physical prototypes to begin structuring my ideas. I believe in the power of “failing quickly and cheaply” with low-res prototypes to explore many options before investing a lot of time and money. Then I use tools such as Figma and Balsamiq to flesh out my ideas and share them with others.

After I have created user-centered prototypes, I’m ready to test. One way I enjoy conducting usability testing is via cognitive walkthroughs to help refine the point of view and learn more about the user. Journey Mapping during testing can help to unpack what the user says, does, thinks, and feels during different points of an experience to better identify needs and glean subtle but important insights.

In order for testing to be truly valuable, I include an assessment. This serves as a guideline for evaluating the work and is used to integrate feedback to help build later iterations for a useful user experience.