What is design thinking? Human-centered design and the challenges of complex problem-solving

Design thinking, the scientific method of the 21st century.

“What is it that we’re talking about, when we’re talking about design? We may first encounter design as aesthetic treatment and styling – certainly important, but not, of course, the entire story. Stylistic design is often seen in contrast with design as a process for tackling tough problems. Design thinking is an abductive approach to complex problem solving that leverages the designer’s empathetic mindset in order to understand people’s unarticulated needs and identify opportunities for solutions. This is a human-centered innovation process that can be applied to a wide range of challenges: design thinking can be used to create everything from products and services to business models and processes.”

Jonathan Follett a.k.a. /jonfollett | @jonfollett ~ O’Reilly Radar

Designing progressive web applications for the future

Progression is just an idea, not a practice.

“The premise is refreshingly simple: bridge the gap between offline and online experiences and gain performance increases, lower bounce rates, and even better conversion rates while doing so. Progressive web applications (PWAs) are basically another layer to add on an existing website, one that interacts between the browser and http connection. This means that any and all requests first go through the service worker, which is an important part of any PWA. The service worker then determines whether there is even a need to connect to the internet for the request, or whether it should just serve a locally stored cache of the website the user is currently browsing.”

Mark Pedersen ~ Boxes and Arrows

Experience design in the machine learning era

ML eats XD for breakfast, lunch, and diner.

“Traditionally the experience of a digital service follows pre-defined user journeys with clear states and actions. Until recently, it has been the designer’s job to create these linear workflows and transform them into understandable and unobtrusive experiences. This is the story of how that practice is about to change. Over the last 6 months, I have been working in a rather unique position at BBVA Data and Analytics, a center of excellence in financial data analysis. My job is to make the design of user experiences reach a new frontier with the emergence of machine learning techniques. My responsibility — among other things — is to bring a holistic experience design to teams of data scientists and make it an essential part of the lifecycle of algorithmic solutions (e.g. predictive models, recommender systems). In parallel, I perform creative and strategic reviews of experiences that design teams produce (e.g. online banking, online shopping, smart decision making) to steer their evolution into a future of ‘artificial intelligence’. Practically, I boost the partnerships between teams of designers and data scientists to envision desirable and feasible experiences powered by data and algorithms.”

Fabien Girardin a.k.a. /fabiengirardin ~ D&A blog courtesy of puttingpeoplefirst

The decentralization of knowledge: How Carnap and Heidegger influenced the Web

In the end, everything connects. The web and philosophers as well.

“Does the centralization of the Web change both the diffusion of knowledge and the philosophical definition of knowledge itself? By exploring the origins of the Semantic Web in the philosophy of Carnap and of Google’s machine learning approach in Heidegger, we demonstrate that competing philosophical schools are deeply embedded in artificial intelligence and its evolution in the Web. Finally, we conclude that a decentralized approach to knowledge is necessary in order to bring the Web to its full potential as a project for the spread of human autonomy.”

Harry Halpin and Alexandre Monnin ~ First Monday 21.12

How creating a design language can streamline your UX design process

Language being used in processes for communication and specifics.

“Around a year ago, while working at a digital agency, I was given the objective of streamlining our UX design process. Twelve months later, this article shares my thoughts and experiences on how lean thinking helped to instill efficiencies within our UX design process.”

Kyle Cassidy a.k.a. /kycassidy | @kyecass ~ Smashing Magazine

It’s not just decoration: Design is a competitive advantage

All the rational arguments to convince C-level. Still no gut feeling.

“This is one reason why many in the field now downplay the D-word in favour of “User Experience,” or UX. Born out of software design, UX has become a useful lens for understanding everything from watches to wheelbarrows. The total experience of the customer is what counts. That includes the product’s fit and finish, its ergonomics and safety features, and how intuitive it is to use.”

Graham F. Scott ~ Canadian Business

Applying UX design tactically to achieve strategic objectives

Strategic thinking for in-house UX teams.

“UX design encompasses user research, user interface design, visual design, and content. But what about process design? Why should seasoned companies – whose product-development process hasn’t previously relied on conducting design research – hire UX professionals to help them devise and realize a new business model?”

Mark Baldino a.k.a. /markbaldino | @fuzzymath ~ UXmatters

Thinking about Design Thinking: Is it important?

All thinking is important.

“Design thinking is just another way to talk about problem-solving. Every design project you take on aims to solve some sort of problem for the client, whether it is helping more people learn about their company through a website, getting people into a store with a coupon or enticing people to buy something with an amazing package design. But design thinking is more than just problem solving. It is a hands-on approach to developing solutions.”

Carrie Cousins a.k.a. @carriecousins ~ Design Shack

Augmented Reality: The past, the present and the future

AR and VR, the new design ‘terra incognita’.

“Augmented reality has come a long way from a science-fiction concept to a science-based reality. Until recently the costs of augmented reality were so substantial that designers could only dream of working on design projects that involved it – today things have changed and augmented reality is even available on the mobile handset. That means design for augmented reality is now an option for all shapes and sizes of UX designers.”

The Interaction Design Foundation

Creating a design system language

System thinking in a design context.

“It seems like the current buzz word in the design industry and everyone wants one. But how exactly can a product benefit from having a living, breathing design language? I’m going to try break down the very basics so you can understand why it’s needed. Creating an underlying language will unite our design philosophies and methodologies across our platform.”

Ezequiel Bruni a.k.a. @ezequielbruni ~ Webdesigner depot courtesy of @IAtv

Effective and efficient: Conducting UX and design reviews

Shaping the feedback loop in a cybernetic way.

“We have all been there—the umpteenth design review on a feedback loop that just will not end. The team is exhausted and creativity has been squeezed like water out of a dishrag. The stakeholders keep giving new feedback, often derailing previous feedback. The team wonders if it will ever be done. There is no clear path forward and the team has lost sight of the original goals, instead spending time on copy for one link or a particular shade of blue. Endless rounds of feedback and wayward comments are crippling to team morale. Without a clear path forward, repeated reviews can ultimately make attempts at innovative UX suffer and leave stakeholders questioning the approach. There is hope; this does not have to happen. With the three-step process of reviews introduced in this article, creativity can be restored and your team can help clients and stakeholders achieve their goals. This process will ultimately lead to better UX and designs because it starts with defining a clear UX strategy and limits the design project to three rounds of review.”

Kristin Zibell a.k.a. /kristinzibell | @takeyourbigtrip The Magazine of the UXPA

UX Research is the biggest bang for the buck most companies fail to invest in

Research comes in many shapes for digital design.

“The problem I see with having a UX Designer without a UX Researcher is that as a company, you develop the illusion that you are doing enough to comprehensively assess and change the user experience in a way to get the optimal results out of your investment. And, truth be told, many UX designers do a little bit of everything highlighted in this article. But they don’t do enough. They can’t. There simply isn’t enough time in a day to both create the user experience and validate its effectiveness. Moreover, as we saw above, there’s a wide variety of techniques through which User Researchers monitor, analyze and report on user experience developments.”

Craig Tomlin a.k.a. /wcraigtomlin | @ctomlin

Design-led firms win the business advantage (.pdf)

Preaching to the choir.

“Today’s digitally empowered customers expect seamless experiences that allow them to interact with brands how they want, when they want, and where they want. These expectations are constantly evolving as consumers are exposed to new experiences and technologies, and customer experience competition for customers’ attention is intensifying amid the continued proliferation of devices, displays, and interfaces. In this changing landscape of customer goals and choices, design becomes a key business advantage. A well-crafted experience — one based on deep customer understanding, effective visuals, and relevant interactions — can make the difference between a loyal, repeat customer and one who gives up and walks away unsatisfied. As one notable designer put it, “Design isn’t just about beauty; it’s about market relevance and meaningful results.”

A Forrester Consulting thought leadership paper commissioned by Adobe

The biggest problem facing UX design

Must be multiple problems.

“As with many trends that have seen a rapid rise, there is a strong likelihood that there may be an equally strong decline in UX design. It is fear of this risk that is prompting many UX designers to call for their fellows to prove their value. It stands to reason that, if designers can prove their worth and, thus, convince their employers that design is providing a strong return on investment (ROI) to them, they’ll have no choice but to keep championing designers. Now, if that were easy, nobody would have a worry, but it’s not. How can design – something that companies have traditionally assessed according to the taste of a few important people – prove to a company that it’s providing real, measurable value? How can UX designers show that they are actually valuable, strategic assets who can impact all areas of a business?”

Ben Newton a.k.a. /bencnewton | @ben_c_newton UXmatters

Designing for disappearing interfaces

However you assemble them, you have to define them.

“The internet becomes something that’s omnipresent, instead of just something you click on. As everything around us becomes inherently more dynamic, user interfaces will become more and more amorphous in their boundaries. And just as the internet will in effect ‘disappear’, so will our interfaces. We’ll still use them, but we won’t perceive them as separate, limited, defined spaces. They’ll be something far more integral to our experience.”

David McGillivray a.k.a. /dmcgillivray | @David_McG