Understanding your consumers’ cultures, beliefs, perspectives, and needs is essential for the success of design-thinking initiatives. The Interaction Design Foundation defines design thinking as the development of a product image, using a cognitive process—an ongoing cycle that goes something like this:
- Empathize with your audience
- Define their needs and problems, and your insights to solutions
- Ideate by challenging your assumptions and creating innovative solutions
- Prototype to physically build the solution
- Test the prototype for effectiveness as a solution that fills a customer need
To effectively empathize with your customer, ask these questions before developing a product:
What does the customer want?
What does the customer know about you?
What do you know about the customer?
Design thinking is all about getting inside the mind of your buyer. Developing this type of empathetic mindset allows you to offer products and services that are relevant to, and even desperately needed by your customer. The current era calls for a deeper understanding of the consumer’s needs and wants—not only to create an advantage over your competitors, but to demonstrate to your audience that they can trust you to 1) know what their problem is, 2) solve it for them, and 3) even exceed their expectations.
When you truly know your audience, you can customize your offerings to meet their needs—enhancing marketing effectiveness and increasing sales. Investing the required time and effort into the design thinking process will encourage customers to advocate for you, create new innovation through team collaboration, minimize risk, increase return on investment, give you a competitive advantage, and ultimately fuel growth for your business.