Published on under Concept, HowTos, ISO 9241-110, Usability, User Experience

Design Thinking – An Experiment

From coeno

At coeno, we are constantly working on various creative and usability methods, as well as their application possibilities. In one of our last forays through the Internet, we once again came across the subject of Design Thinking. But even if the method is good in theory, you cannot really judge it. Therefore, we were very excited when we found a virtual video crash course provided by the of the Stanford University of Design. Of course, we had to try it out for ourselves and now we want to tell you about our experiences.

You can find the documents for self-testing here.

Equipped with the printed documents, various materials ready for tinkering and the video on the television, we made ourselves comfortable in our creative space. Feels a bit weird, of course, but the two guys, who lead you through the video, are quite likeable.



At the beginning, there is the mission. In the video example, it is the following: Re-create the process of “giving” to your partner. It starts with a four-minute interview with your partner to find out how this process of “giving” takes place. Anja finds out that Maxi has already planned a birthday present for her friend ahead of schedule. She has chosen a “Burger Cookbook”. The design and style of the book as well as the recommendation of a colleague were the decisive criteria. However, she almost missed out on purchasing it in time, which is why she ordered the book quickly at Amazon.

Even more interesting is the findings of a second four-minute interview, which focuses on the emotions involved in the gift process. So, Anja learns that Maxi is often stressed because she does not know what to give to her friend.



The findings from the two interviews are then filtered according to the following two criteria: goals and desires, and new lessons learned about feelings and motivation. This is an intermediate step to derive the problem statement. In our case: “Maxi needs a little more input and stimulation to give gifts because she gives her friend a gift at least twice a year and always wants to surprise him.”

So far, Jeremy and George have guided us well through the different phases and we have already learned a lot. Especially well done is that you actually get the feeling that you are part of the workshop, because the video simply continues during the working phases and indicates how much time still remains.



With the problem statement completed, you now have a good basis for going into the creative phase. The goal is to outline at least five ideas in four minutes and present them to your partner in a further four-minute phase, to get feedback and to develop the ideas together. Our favorite is the gift box with paper notes, where Maxi’s friend can capture his wishes on small pieces of paper and Maxi can draw a gift idea whenever there is an occasion. So, Maxi gets support when it comes to the selection and a little surprise effect remains nevertheless, since in advance it is not clear which note will be drawn.

The idea is now finalized in a sketch in three minutes.




Next, we were asked to tinker. It is very unusual to work again in an analog way with scissors and paper, but the ideas are actually more concrete and it is possible to search for solutions to problems. The results are quite good, right?




The finished prototype is now handed over to your partner and tested by your partner. The feedback is used to determine what is good and what could be improved. Now we are going with the flow, we have raised questions and developed further ideas. Maxi is quite satisfied with the result and thinks she might try out such a box.


Lessons Learned

At the end of the video, some questions invite you to reflect on the experience. We particularly liked the process of developing an idea directly with the person who has the problem. Through the interviews at the beginning you get good insights. A particularly positive experience for us was the focus on the emotional level, which gives us an even better understanding of the person and their motivation. Through the regular interaction with this person, the solution is individually tailored to them. In a real project with a larger customer, however, we see a few implementation problems because the decision processes are not so short nor direct. By drawing and tinkering you get a better feeling of how the product feels and the solution becomes more real. This also helped us to improve and develop the idea quickly.

The experiment was a lot of fun and it can easily be completed in the workplace in just over an hour. So, we can only recommend you try it for yourself.

Maxi and Anja

This Post has been published in Concept, HowTos, ISO 9241-110, Usability, User Experience.
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