Core to the idea of design thinking is that we focus on an overall goal, rather than say a specific problem to solve. While it can help us solve some of the world’s most complex problems (think global warming), we can also use it every day in the web industry, to help us solve our own complex issues.

The design thinking approach to this problem is to ask ‘why?’—maybe the 50% increase in traffic is expected to yield an increase in leads. Well, rather than going down the costly process of paid advertising to boost traffic and leads. Maybe a better solution is to improve the conversion rate of the already existing traffic.

How design thinking looks in practice

AIRBNB

A great example of design thinking in practice comes from the early days of Airbnb. They believed that if more apartments had better photos, they would receive more bookings.

So what did they do? They flew out to New York (where the majority of listings were), rented a camera, visited some users and dramatically improved the photo quality of those listings. Straight away they doubled their weekly revenue, the biggest improvement they’d made in a long time.

Another great example of design thinking in practice came from the Nordstrom Innovation Lab. Nordstrom, a top US retailer, hired a team of people to mine data that they gathered from sources like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to create curated experiences for customers based off their preferences and in-store activity.

‘WIZARD OF OZ’ TECHNIQUE

Another great example of design thinking in practice, using a ‘lean’ approach, is the ‘wizard of oz’ technique. The term originates from the field of experimental psychology in the 1980’s. As ‘Universal Methods of Design’ puts it, the Wizard of Oz is “a research experiment in which subjects interact with a computer system that subjects believe to be autonomous, but which is actually being operated or partially operated by an unseen human being.”

Why design thinking?

As in the examples above, it’s clear that by applying design thinking, we’re solving the real problems of our customers, rather than focusing on business goals exclusively. The idea of a small company with not a huge amount of money flying to New York to take a few photos may not have floated in a lot of corporate boardrooms, but there’s no doubt this decision changed the direction of the company.

These benefits are endless. A design thinking approach means involving the users in the process. Not only does this provide better solutions, but it means that the users feel part of the process. They feel loved like someone is actually caring for them.