At Quantum 3, we approach every project with our expert, 3 Step Design, Build, and Install Process aimed at drastically improving workflow.
The crucial first component of this is the design phase where we sit and strategise about what you want and how best that can be achieved.
Our approach to this stage of the process draws inspiration from and similarities with a common methodology known as the Design Thinking Process.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the Design Thinking Process, examine its five stages, and explore how it relates to our own design methodology.
What is the Design Thinking Process?
The Design Thinking Process is a solution-based approach to solving a problem that puts the requirements of the end-user first.
Applicable to any industry, including manufacturing and engineering, this approach aims to attain a complete understanding of the needs of the user and to use that knowledge to develop innovative and creative solutions.
It is a five-stage process for solving complex issues; Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.
In most cases, the manufacturers leading innovation today are those who have embraced design thinking and always keep the user experience in mind.
Further adding to the testament of design thinking is a 2018 article from the Harvard Business Review in which the author, Marcos Chin, states the belief that design thinking can be as crucial to innovation as TQM was to manufacturing in the 1980s.
Let’s take a closer look at the aforementioned 5 stages and how they might drive innovation.
The 5 Stages of the Design Thinking Process
Empathy is the capacity to understand what other people feel on an emotional level, view the situation from their perspective, and put yourself in their shoes.
But how does this relate to solving a product problem?
Well as previously mentioned, the design thinking process is all about consideration for the end-user.
This stage should be spent consulting with the people experiencing the problem in question, exposing yourself to the issue, and approaching it from every possible angle so as to attain a broad understanding and to quell prior assumptions.
Apple is actually one of the most proficient examples of this phase.
They prioritise simple, attractive design, and build easy-to-use products that meet user requirements without over-complicating things.
The second phase of the design thinking process is to define the issue, combining the first-hand research and insights gathered in the empathy stage and using them to provide a clear and focused problem statement.
Similar to the first phase, it is paramount that this is completed in a human-centric manner i.e. framing the problem in light of what the target user needs.
Design engineers find great benefit in this step as it encourages them to ask important questions – the answers to which often materialise into ideas for product features and functionalities.
Now that you have painted a clear picture of the problem, and begun gathering ideas, it is time to expand on this and explore as many potential solutions as possible. This is known as the ideation stage of the design thinking process.
In this phase, creativity and thinking outside of the box is greatly encouraged. You want to make sure every possible angle is considered.
Brainstorming and other ideation techniques are employed to maximise the volume and creativity of ideas before these are narrowed down through further investigation and testing.
Moving into the prototype stage, this is where design teams transform their solutions into scaled-down representations that can be tested and improved upon.
Sketches, models, or virtual renderings of a concept are all examples of a prototype.
The goal of this phase is to find the ideal remedy for each issue discovered in the initial stages.
Prototyping is essential to uncovering how the user interacts with the proposed solutions, whether or not they fulfill all of their requirements, and how they can be enhanced.
Once again, this stage is all about the human-centric approach – gathering the users’ feedback and using it to inform the product’s development.
The design thinking process does not reach its conclusion until the final product undergoes rigorous testing. This final product has been created using the most effective solutions found throughout prototyping.
It is commonplace for the end user to be brought in to assist with testing and provide real, unbiased feedback. After all, design thinking is all about ensuring their needs are met.
While this is the final stage of design thinking, it may lead to further alterations or developments, depending on the results of the tests.
Design thinking is an iterative process.
Parallels can be drawn between the first three elements of the design thinking process and what we call “walking the line” together.
When you approach Quantum 3 for a project, we will “walk the line” together on paper or in person, making sure our in-house design team has a thorough understanding of your needs and full clarity in the problem you wish to solve.
We then explore and brainstorm every viable idea and solution. We consider the environment for each application, the spatial constraints, the functionality required and the overall aesthetics of the finished application, before helping you to discover which application is right for your business.
Our design engineers prototype and test their ideas using 3D CAD drawing technology. This allows us to digitally create, modify, and test every aspect of a product.
The end result is that we create a 3D CAD drawing that matches perfectly with its destined area, the drawing is approved by you, quotation is issued and the order is placed, and we move onto the Build and Install steps of our process.