Prototyping In Design Thinking: Definition, Types & Benefits

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term design thinking? Design thinking is synonymous with innovation, thinking out of the box, having new breakthroughs, and so on. Actually, you’re not wrong.

The three-word phrases are the desired results from the design thinking process. Usually, the ability to do design thinking is needed in jobs related to product design, user experience, UX designer, architecture, and others.

Design thinking only applies to this job. It is also needed in business. Design thinking does have advantages such as cost savings and guaranteed return on investment (ROI), making users more loyal, and saving development time.

That said, design thinking is also very important for startups. Startups invent and test products or services and often need more funding to continue their innovation.

The startup must be able to define a problem and answer it with the product results. Design thinking is where it comes into play.

So, what is meant by design thinking? What are the characteristics and applications? Continue to read the information below so you can understand design thinking.

Intro to Design Thinking

On the internet, you will find many definitions of design thinking. According to the “Interaction Design Foundation,” design thinking is an iterative process of understanding users, challenging assumptions, redefining problems, and creating solutions.

Meanwhile, the “Career Foundry” said that design thinking is an ideology and a process for solving complex problems that emphasize the user’s interests. Simply put, design thinking is an approach to solving cognitive, creative, and practical issues to answer human needs as users.

Design thinking includes context analysis, problem finding and framing, idea and solution generation, creative thinking, sketching and drawing, modeling and prototyping, testing and evaluating.

The essence of design thinking includes the ability to:

  • Solving complex problems.
  • Turning strategy into solutions.
  • Using abductive and productive reasoning.
  • Using non-verbal, graphic, or spatial modeling media, for example, sketching and prototyping.

Design thinking gives us space to fail. Learning from failure, we must understand why we failed and why we have to fix it. Design thinking is also linked to product and service innovation recipes in business and social contexts.

Some of these recipes have been criticized for oversimplifying the design process and downplaying the role of technical knowledge and skills.

John E. Arnold was one of the first writers to use the term design thinking. In “Creative Engineering” (1959), he distinguished four areas of design thinking. According to Arnold, design thinking can produce, among other things:

  • New functionality, i.e., solutions that meet unique or old needs in entirely new ways.
  • Higher level of solution performance.
  • Lower production costs.
  • Scalability improvement.

Thus, according to this initial concept, design thinking encompasses all forms of product innovation, especially incremental innovation (higher performance) and radical innovation (new functionality). Arnold recommends a balanced approach: Product developers should explore opportunities in all four areas of design thinking.

Design Thinking Characteristics

Even though it has many meanings, there are four characteristics that you will always encounter in design thinking.

1. Solution-Based or People-Centered

The interests of humans as users are the most important focus of the design thinking method. Hence, design thinking plays the role of identifying problems that are being faced by humans and answering these problems with solutions that are useful and effective for them.

In other words, design thinking relies heavily on solutions to answer these needs. This approach will require someone to devise something constructive to solve a problem.

Solution-based thinking is summed up in research by Bryan Lawson, Professor of Architecture at the University of Sheffield, which compares the problem-solving process by a group of scientists vs. a group of designers.

Lawson said that groups of scientists tend to identify problems (problem-based). In contrast, groups of designers prioritize problem solutions (solution-based). So, the solution-based is carried out experimentally to find the right answer.

2. Hands-On

One of the stages carried out in design thinking is prototyping, turning ideas into real products. This stage allows direct testing from the design team on semi-finished products.

Hands-on characteristics will not exist in a business that does not use design thinking, for example, with the rise of coffee shops which are increasingly mushrooming in big cities.

The existence of coffee shops with the same business model and offerings will only make the competition in the coffee shop industry more stringent.

The rise of coffee shops also does not try to question the problems among coffee enthusiasts. As a result, no solutive product is produced.

3. Highly Creative

Some say that being creative means being able to create something new. Some argue that a creative person can connect previously unrelated things. If you look at it, the point is the same, creativity demands novelty.

This characteristic is closely related to design thinking. Solving problems and answering them with solutions is the main purpose of design thinking. However, the solution must also present a fresh concept to attract users.

If the solution already exists, isn’t it natural that users aren’t interested in your offer?

4. Done Repeatedly or Iteratively

Design thinking always starts with looking for problems. Why bother looking for trouble? This is because user behavior and desires are constantly changing. In fact, users do not know what they want.

That is evidenced by the words of Henry Ford, the founder of one of the largest car companies in the world, Ford. “If I asked what the user wanted, they would say a faster horse,” he said. Even though Ford didn’t produce horses in the end, at least he managed to contribute something faster, right?

Users need to find out that what you produce will end up being something they need the second it appears in plain sight. Design thinking exists to bridge this gap. It will be used continuously to offer this invisible desire until the results can answer the user’s needs.

The Process of Design Thinking

Design thinking is not a new term. The idea of using a design approach for creative problem-solving has long been discussed by experts since the 1960s. Experts contribute their thoughts to each other, thus forming the concept of design thinking.

It was John E. Arnold who first put forward the term design thinking in his book “Creative Engineering” in 1959. Then, in 1965, L. Bruce Archer responded to this idea by arguing that design thinking needed to be done systematically.

Herbert Simon, an American sociologist, and psychologist contributed his thoughts through his article entitled The Sciences of The Artificial, published in 1969. Simon introduced 7 steps to using design as a creative approach to problem-solving.

The essence of Simon’s concept inspired the 5 stages of design thinking that are commonly known today. This concept became more popular after being applied by David Kelley and Tim Brown to the design company they founded, IDEO. They see that companies need to be more creative in handling extreme cases that happen to them.

These five stages do not have to be sequential but can also be implemented non-linearly. In certain locations, you might find an insight that makes you have to improve results at other stages.

In addition, these five stages can also be moved/changed in order or carried out simultaneously and repeated several times to open up opportunities for the best solutions.

Leave a Comment