Design has many disciplines that span across many industries. There is no one-size-fits-all job that a "designer" does. Traditionally there has been two main disciplines, Graphic design & Industrial/Product design
More recently (since the 60's) a new discipline emerged covering how we design for human interactions, and even more recently (mid 90's), a fourth level emerged that takes in the bigger picture and looks at the design of the environment, systems, and platforms that all the other designs exist in.
- Graphic Design
- Industrial/Product Design
- Interaction Design
- Systems Design
This order covers all types of graphical design practices, such as iconography, typography, layout, signs and symbols, the focus is designing information to communicate.
The second order deals with 'things people interact with'. This type of design creates useful, usable and desirable products for people to use. It’s the world of Product Design, Engineering, Architecture and Technology Design.
The third order deals with 'groups of people and things in interaction’. This type of designs delivers experiences. It’s the world of Service Design, UX design and Process Design
The fourth order deals with 'how groups of people and things interact with other groups of people and things'. This type of design delivers orchestrating systems, environments, ideas and values. It’s the world of Strategy design, Business design and Organisation Design.
Design thinking is a process which moves from problem to solution via some clear intermediate points. The basic steps of the process, (as proposed by Herbert A Simon), is this:
Definition – where the problem is defined as best as possible prior to solving it
Research – where the designers examine as much data as they feel necessary to be able to fully contribute to the problem solving process
Ideation – where the designer commences creating possible solutions without examining their practicality until a large number of solutions has been proposed. Once this is done, impractical solutions are eliminated or played with until they become practical.
Prototyping – where the best ideas are simulated in some means so that their value can be explored with users
Choosing – where the best idea is selected from the multiple prototypes
Implementing – where that idea is built and delivered as a product
Testing – where the product is tested with the user in order to ensure that it solves the original problem in an effective manner
There are many other design thinking processes and I'd always encourage you to adapt to your organisation and situation. The more mature your software, you may have trouble altering a process in one go. Take the steps that you feel will help and work with them one by one.
Using these steps to work through a problem means that you consider the most important players and the outcome is the right one for everyone.
Looking at the solution from all these angles really puts the relevant pieces of the puzzle in focus, there is no point in building a system that has no relevance to the people who use it, that the business doesn't need, or we can't implement technically, so using design to help us think will ensure we empathise with ALL the requirements and at the very least attempt to hypothesise if we are creating something meaningful.
If we make sure we plan, and think ahead to what we want to build, we make sure that we get ideas and options early on in the process when it is easy to change. We gain knowledge and inspiration and can use that along the way to process our designs into a product. Design thinking is a