Even though we use the word “design” to describe a lot of different things, they all actually have one thing in common: problem-solving.

The Process of Design Squiggle sketch by Damien Newman
The Process of Design Squiggle by Damien Newman

As these days we have to stay at home to protect our and other people’s health, we are going through the days in which those who failed to complete the digital transformation or could not provide a good experience in their services are experiencing painful learning.

We are having times where we feel the importance of all design approaches more in our daily lives and keep facing their shortcomings. During the Covid-19 pandemic, where we could not go to the market, hospital, stores, bank the way we did before, and we search all the alternative services to meet our needs, we once again deeply felt the importance of design, with its reflections in our lives in different aspects. It has inevitably come to the fore at work, systems of government agencies, the products we use, education, the services we use, and many other fields. Even if some of us do not even notice it, it somehow affects all of us, which prompted me to write about design.

Let me just say right away, when you think of design, please do not imagine something that is produced only with aesthetic concerns. I can see that just as user experience design and usability are often mistaken for each other, design can also be misunderstood in this context. The color of a poster, the simplicity of an application interface, the splendor of an architectural structure, the beauty of a vehicle, or the texture of a product… I am not just referring to the feeling they create in us through the sense organs. Of course, both aesthetics and its effect are a part of the experience, but maybe it is related to the way it is used in daily life. When we think of design, the first thing that comes to mind is to see it that way. I will not go into the details such as what design is, but it is obvious that design, generally speaking, is a problem-solving approach.

Design

Don’t you think that everything that is man-made is the result of a design? Human beings have been designing and producing things since the very beginning of their existence. Producing, of course, leads to something tangible to be consumed and the concept of need comes to mind. In the current world order, a preferable product needs to meet a need, in other words, it must provide the consumer benefit and offer a value proposition to choose your product or service. It might seem a bit like I’m talking about something common in the capitalist system, and some of you may ask if works of plastic arts, painting, music, etc. come out of necessity. This has been a long-debated issue, you may not see a tangible benefit in art, in fact, no need or demand is necessary for the production processes of works of art.

You most probably have seen in your personal and work life that the word design is pronounced and used in different contexts by your friends working in different disciplines.

The above image shows a simple sketch that Damien Newman drew to explain what the design process is. Starting with complexity, the design process proceeds to the design solution that continues with a single line to the right. You see all problem-solving and production processes are based upon the concept design.

Design is not just about how a product looks but is also about the need it meets, how it works, how it is used, the way interaction between the user and the solution is provided. No matter what the solution you suggest is, we must accept the human behaviors as they are, which you observe while they use your product. It won’t do us any good to hope for the things we would like to see to happen. We can only make them come true with a human-centered design process. A designer cannot make this come true alone without a team. We designers do not have a magic wand, and did not have it yesterday, nor will we have it tomorrow. A team of professionals needs to work together for good designs. This is why I believe that designers should take it as a mission to encourage their teammates from different disciplines to contribute to the experience in the product or service development process.

A team of professionals needs to work together for good designs.

A good design is usually not noticed. It solves the and flows, you will not have any problems with the product as it meets your needs. However, bad designs stand out in every way and make you feel like something is missing about them.

The key to success in design is to identify what the real problem is. Only when we solve the real problem, it will lead us to the right conclusions. So we must research, learn and verify at every stage without hesitation to do something incompletely or incorrectly, and strive to provide solutions that meet the needs of people in line with our goals. The most difficult part of the design process is perhaps to understand these needs correctly because it means that you make sure that you have sorted it out and your solution works. While Design Thinking seems simple when we speak of it as a method, it is difficult to implement.

Designer

So, why have we started to see designer titles so often, especially in job titles, to hear that companies got to found design departments, and to see that companies invest in design teams? What lies behind that increase in the need for designers? The answer to this question is partly simple: all the while technology is advancing and getting a place in our lives so fast, the existing products are going through a digital transformation, the human beings fail to keep up with these rapid transformations and advances. So new occupational titles and job areas that define the manpower that will meet the current needs and focus on certain areas have begun to emerge.

We design products that are easy to understand, services that run smoothly from end to end, systems that build loyalty with happy customers, and communicate with each other to make our businesses stand out from competitors. Times have changed, leading to different needs, discoveries, and innovations with new playgrounds. While the cloud, deep learning, IoT, machine learning, big data, artificial intelligence, and many other things are developing, we overlooked or failed to realize some of the things that remain the same. Here is the point that we miss: human psychology, design principles based on human nature, and the importance of solutions offered are. We have always been and will, in the future, be in need of designers who will focus on different problems.

Problem-Solving: Design

Who can foresee what will be the new technologies that will develop in the next thirty years? Who could predict the new coronavirus pandemic, and who was ready for it? Who can know what will radically change our lives tomorrow and what exactly its effects will be, and prepare for it?

The micro and macro level reflections of the pandemic are inevitable, and we have no idea about many of its effects. Nowadays we even get to call the normal “the new normal”, we should keep in mind the importance of design as an endless process at every stage of our production and solution processes.

No matter how you work, what tools and methods you use in your design processes, even if the epidemic changes something, that’s for sure it will also bring new opportunities. The problem-solving cycle, in general terms, can be summarised as research, design, and optimization as an iterative process, which means new designs for new problems.

If people buy, use, like, or even recommend your product or service, you can make sure that you offer a good design, which demonstrates that your solution suggestions provide a good experience.

What do you think about it? Please feel free to write your comments. You can read the rest of my articles here and can reach me out via LinkedIn.

<hr><p>Design as a Problem-Solving Approach was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p>