How to build a digital product from scratch, following a design thinking approach

Problem statement

Over the last few months, our lives have changed, and we are all trying to find our new normal as we navigate through these difficult times. It became clear how important it is to support not only each other, but also the heart of our communities — our local businesses. By making conscious decisions to support local entrepreneurs, we are embracing our local economies and empowering our cities, our neighbours and ourselves to grow and thrive. In the age of global economic, political and social instability, buying locally matters, because it keeps wealth and jobs flowing within the community.

Process

The core question in any creative or design project is how to get from point A — “Don’t know” or “Could be” — to point B — “Do know” or “Should be”.

This process might seem finite and straightforward at first sight. In reality, it is a never-ending process, as creativity is the habit of continually doing things in new ways to make a positive difference to our life (Hyper Island, 2016).

The creative process of finding a solution to a problem can be a maze. That’s why we are going to follow the Double Diamond model, a structured design approach to tackling challenges in four phases:

Phase 1: Discover — Research Phase

The very first stage of the Double Diamond model consists of learning more about the different variables that affect the problem and its possible solution. The objective of this stage is to identify and contextualize the actual problem or opportunity.

Product Definition

One of the most important phases in UX design is to understand your starting ground. We should start this process by laying down the problem, presenting the hypothesis, and defining ways by which we can learn more. Before building a product, the context for existence should be understood.

Product Research

As the old saying goes: If you have four hours to chop down a tree, spend the first three hours sharpening your axe. The same goes for designs. Before you get started with any project, you need to get your research straight, which means understanding the problem.

  • Open discussion on their reasoning for buying locally produced items and their experiences with that before
  • What attributes they are looking for in a product and what characteristics would convince them to spend more on them
  • What impact the story behind the brand has on their decision to support that brand

Phase 2: Define — Synthesis phase

The definition stage in the Double Diamond model consists of filtering through all the information you got from stage one and elaborating on it. This can mean identifying bottlenecks and seeing hidden opportunities.

  • Tagging — This method consists of selecting relevant parts of a transcript and giving that part of the text an appropriate tag. The tags can be predefined or created during the analysis of the text.

The Value proposition

A Value Proposition is a promise of value to be delivered, communicated and acknowledged. This deliverable presents the What and Why by mapping out the key aspects of a product: what it is, who is it for and when/where it will be used and helping the team visualize everything the product could be, before narrowing down and creating consensus about what the product will be.

Product:

Product & services: Online <showcase / showroom / gallery> of the local brands

  • Offer exposure to new or unique brands and products
  • Showcase unique products
  • Increase the trust in local brands and producers
  • Presents the history and the story behind a brand
  • Easy to access a database of local producers with a presentation of their profile
  • All the information in one place, easy to access
  • Offers clear indicators (addresses/links) where to find the products

Customer:

Gains:

  • Find ethically sourced and produced goods
  • Promote a sense of fulfillment as they are helping the community in which they live
  • Possibility to learn about new brands
  • Get to know the story and the people behind the brand
  • If they want to buy locally, they feel restricted to the brands that they already know
  • There is no existing catalogue of local brands, so it requires a lot of research if you want to buy locally
  • From the websites of the producer, not clear if they have a local store or where the product can be bought
  • Reticent to try new things that have not been endorsed by other people
  • Getting to know new brands only by word of mouth, commercials or influencers
  • Buy from local producers to support their community
  • Find articles that are in their budget
  • Find unique products
  • Buy products that are socially and environmentally conscious

Personas

Phase 3: Develop — Ideation Phase

After defining the customer challenges or problems through gathering data and insights, it is time to brainstorm and generate as many ideas as possible, as potential solutions. The main aim of the Ideation phase is to use creativity and innovation in order to develop solutions.

Phase 4: Develop — Implement the solution

After a set of potential solutions has been presented, it is time to evaluate the final one and the way it needs to be implemented or executed. An MVP — minimum viable product — will be built, which will offer enough tangibility to find out whether it solves the initial problem or it answers the initial question.

Prototype

Mood board: The first thing in the creative part was to make a mood board that would be used to communicate one of the most important tenet of design language — emotion. What will users feel when they use the product? For this project, I wanted to use elements from the Romanian folk so that the users will be reminded of their origins, of the stories that they have been listening to when they grew up, but in a style that is new, fresh, and adapted to the modern life. As can be seen in the mood board, I tried to adapt elements from the folk craftsmanship into the digital design.

Landing page
List of brands
Dedicated brand page

Test

After the wireframes have been developed, the next step is testing. As a first usability testing session, what we want is to get the product exposed to people and watch what happens. We are looking for problems that people fall into and what works well for them and why. At this stage, having anybody go through the product will offer a new perspective on what works and what does not.

Iterate

After the usability test has been performed, it is time to analyze the results and come up with a list of improvements based on user’s feedback. This iterative process of prototype, test, and iterate enables an objective assessment of the project’s status and it enables the team to leverage lessons learned, and therefore to continually improve the process.

Conclusion

The Double diamond technique is one of the many Frameworks For Innovation that exist out there. I would also like to emphasize, that even if the original model is basically presented as a linear model, the design is not a linear process. The whole Agile movement and Lean Startup’s thinking made it clear that design is not a linear process. It’s iterative.

User Experience Engineer that creates digital products 👩‍💻 with knowledge and passion💖 https://andracimpan.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store