Rapid changing environment and higher customer’s expectations are the main reason for constant transformation to meet market demand. Organizations are looking for more innovative solutions which live up to these requirements. It is no longer enough to be a good player. Nowadays we need to go further to act at a larger scale. We are obliged to meet customer’s needs faster and more precisely.

Taking all of the above into the consideration is the very first step to building your brand and competitive advantage over the other companies. Designing positive experience and better understanding of our users are the key to success. Thus, what is all the fuss about with the user experience and design thinking? Do they correlate? If yes what is the difference? Are there any similarities? Let’s look closer into user experience and design thinking.

Look, feel, usability – the core of User Experience [UX]

UX is an emotional reaction which affects cus­tomer’s behavior. It encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products bearing in mind perspective of usage (e.g. specific sit­uation, mobility, frequency). UX enforces the awareness of the context of using product or service. Unfortunately in many cases UX is un­derstood only as user interface, graphical lay­out or as considering user’s needs only (with­out others factors like e. g. human motivations, emotions).

User Experience
Source: own elaboration

Technology is waiting for business to speed up!

There is no doubt technology is changing people’s behaviors. According to various research, technology is inevitable part of our daily life. Smartphones, online banking, online booking, online shopping have become common. There is no need to prove that technology affects all aspects of our life. There is constant need to develop new products and services to meet user’s needs. Companies all the time are trying to catch up. In this context we can ask ourselves the question what is the role of project manager. We strongly believe each project manager should be aware of all the circumstances around product/service design. For those who wish to understand what user experience is – there are trainings available. You can become a certified an UX-PM.

User Experience can bridge the gap!

Nowadays UX struggles with a lot of challenges. One of them is willingness of the company to offer great user experience versus good practices usage, another one might be not enough budget, not to mention existing processes or company structures. Due to these factors – companies deliver product/service irrelevant to business need. As a result companies don’t know how their product/service is used, who uses it, what the context of this usage is and finally what kind of emotions it implies. Decision to start delivering product/ services with the user experience approach can distinguish your company in the market. People tend to choose the organizations which bring the satisfaction to the users. Satisfied users are willing to share their positive experience with specific company via social media. Careful insight into people’s emotions is the base of deep understanding of human’s need. To enable user experience flow and proper perspective it is crucial to put this identified need in the core of product/service. Thus, each experience with product/service creates unique memories and feelings. Positive emotions provoke the brand attachment and loyalty.

The philosophy of user experience

According to Steve Jobs: “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. Design is how it works!”. So, how does it really work? To design is to understand, create and improve by iterations. To make the design work it is desirable to generate multidisci­plinary team gathering people from different departments like: Marketing, HR, IT, PR, PM, R&D and Customer Service. Each of these roles produce good user experience because it allows to look at the same product/service from different angle and perspective. Which in result makes the product/service more and more applicable to customer need. To better adjust we have to take into consideration tree voices: voice of customer, voice of business and voice of market. We have to remember about customer’s needs and expectations towards different devices (e.g. tablet, smartphone or PC). We ought to have in mind company’s departments (Marketing, IT) and their blockers and requirements. Not to mention market demand.

Desirable, Viable, Feasible – the core of the Design Thinking

One of the methods that puts human in the center of the design is design thinking. What is it actually? It is a methodology of creation of the innovative products and services based on deep understanding of user’s problems and needs. The main foundations of the Design Thinking are: focus on the user, multidisciplinary team and experimenting and testing of various hypothesis. As a result we deliver solutions which are desirable, technically feasible and economically justified.

Design thinking
Source: own elaboration

Five stages of Design Thinking

There are five stages of Design Thinking: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. Innovation starts with the empathy. The Design Thinking puts the user in the center. Human-centered design is a unique approach to problem solving. Starting with the user’s emotions like hope, fear, habits it is easier to define what they need.

How Design Thinking works?

Design Thinking is a systematic approach to the process of the innovation. The first step is to build interdisciplinary team consisting of various specialists who provide their experitse. Does it sound familiar? This is one of the major factors in the User Experience, isn’t it?

Step by step, the team goes through subsequent methodologies’ stages and uses dedicated tools and techniques in order to deliver solutions that are ready for implementation. The goal of the team is to produce the peculiar solution and to check its usability before it is put on the market.

Learn from failure

Unbelievable? Actually not. Design Thinking shows us that the failure is a natural thing during the learning path. This methodology provides the space for failures. Allowance to take risk boost chances for the better product/service design. According to Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. And for design thinkers, finding out what won’t work is part of finding what will.

The earlier in the process you identify the failure – the earlier you can fix the problem and deliver the better product/service. This universal approach can be used wherever we need to deal with so called “wicked problems” meaning the problems for which there might be not a single or obvious solution.

What else?

All of the above indicates that User Experience and Design Thinking have a lot in common. User Experience starts from the answer to the question “How?” whilst Design Thinking defines the real problem and provides us with “What”. UX looks into the details of the design and interactions. Design Thinking allows, by rapid prototyping and testing hypothesis, ensuring that the product/service is validated before it is implemented into the real world.

One may consider that User Experience and Design Thinking are just another buzz words. We believe that these approaches, methodologies are the future of business. Implementing them into organizations will help to deliver better products/services that bring advantages not only to your business, but, what is the most important – for people your business exists for. Both UX and Design Thinking are focused on the human. It does not matter if your project is being run in waterfall or Agile – your North Star is your user.