Design Thinking

A User-Centered Scaffold for Small Business

For small businesses looking to rethink their customer experience or improve marketing operations, design thinking can create the scaffolding to frame problems, ask the right questions, generate ideas and choose the best answers.

Design thinking is an evolving process; the phases are not linear, can occur simultaneously and be repeated. The process puts on the user’s shoes, has a dialogue with the problem and discovers opportunities instead of achieving an end-result.

Tim Brown, CEO of design firm IDEO and author of Change by Design was one of the first to apply design thinking to businesses. Published in the Harvard Business Review Brown’s recommended process must pass through three phases:

  • Inspiration:

    What is the business problem? Where’s the opportunity? What has changed [or soon to change]?

  • Ideation:

    First, make sketches, create scenarios and build creative frameworks; then prototype, test and repeat. Of course, communicate and collaborate with others.

  • Implementation:

    Execute the vision, design a communication strategy, make a case to the business and spread the word.

An example of design thinking from IDEO helped GS Shop, a multichannel e-commerce company, develop a brand and physical space.  When GS Shop built their headquarters they wanted a space that inspired interactions and work styles that would define the company’s future.

Engaging design thinking, the team started by looking at their employees’ day-to-day experience and the physical spaces where they did their work. At the core of their decision-making was the intersection of environment and behavior: How a certain configuration of desks would help new ideas to bubble up.  How the transparency of the boardroom walls might encourage executives to make more collaborative decisions. How open entranceways, common areas and shared spaces could create intersections for teams that might not see each other often.

So how do you apply this to a business in the Greater Lehigh Valley?

Imagine how a small business owner could rebuild an e-commerce website by understanding the user’s needs and click-to-click experience. How design thinking could discover opportunities to improve customer experience and marketing operations.

Imagine how a small business could revamp its hiring process in order to land the right talent who are passionate about the work, can actually do the work and fit the culture. And then onboard them in a way that makes them want to stick around. Think of Zappo’s approach at orientation that offers new hires money to leave the company if they’re not interested in their new role.

Most small businesses don’t have time to think about SEO, let alone conduct a simple content review. Imagine how content actually created for targeted end users would improve search results–content that illustrates exactly what an end user wants, needs and appreciates because the business has thought about, observed and asked what those end users desire.

Small businesses have their own gauge of what issues they face and what solutions they seek. Design thinking is a scaffold that Kudu likes to climb. While we focus on brand and website development, it’s fun to play and discover custom-fit ideas for each customer who works with us.

If you want to chat more about design thinking, give us a call or shoot us an email.