Design and Design Thinking for the Non-Native Designer

In today’s consumer-centric market, it is critical now more than ever before for companies to understand the user experience when people interact with their brand, and to put the customer first when making impactful decisions. Every businessperson should – in some capacity – be able to leverage a design thinking mindset when solving problems and working toward more innovative solutions or products for consumers.

Design thinkers are focused on the design of a given product or experience, but also on recognizing issues, solving applicable problems, and continuing to better that product or experience as a cross-functional team. Collaborating across the organization means that non-designers not only need to be bought into the methodology, but can apply that approach to their own processes and decision-making abilities as well. The designer’s job is to ensure that the user remains at the center of those processes and decisions.

Beyond the aesthetics: design as a function

As a non-designer, it’s important to remember that design is so much more than creativity and visual aesthetics. At its core, design is about working toward producing the best possible experiences and functionalities. When thoughtfully applied, design thinking can therefore be utilized as a set of productive principles and useful tools to enhance user experiences in newer, more cutting-edge ways.

Whether you are a UX/UI Designer, a Service Designer, an Experience Designer, or work within a much broader or narrower field of design, your position revolves around uncovering consumer desires, and generating ideas to solve the problems that may inhibit those needs from being fully delivered.

This process clearly ventures well beyond innovation and creativity, and design thinking provides a methodology to simplify those user-centered strategies into a more cohesive framework. This customer-first strategy and mentality can – and should – be utilized by designers and non-designers alike.

Creativity through collaboration

Interdepartmental, cross-functional collaboration is made possible only with comprehensive buy-in and understanding of the design thinking methodology. Being able to empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and iterate amongst a diverse group of individuals who possess a wide range of experiences and expertise - within design – and non-design background – is how truly innovative and inclusive solutions are generated.

Providing that environment of producing free-flowing ideas amongst unique perspectives allows for more open dialogue and an inherently wider spectrum of thoughts, insights, and creative potential. In essence, it’s all about how your organization is establishing an innovative and collaborative atmosphere while maintaining that human-centered design mindset?