Image by Olav Ahrens Røtne
Finding a market fit is often the first challenge for startups. The pressure to generate strong metrics to inform decisions and secure funding often means businesses attempt to take a rational approach, where the concerns are far removed from creating value to the customer.
Without a strong focus on serving a customers needs in a unique way, you may face difficulty in identifying the purpose and values that will help gain a clear advantage against your competitors.
Through rediscovering the power of interaction between the customer and product, a designer can help define a strategy that provides a solution, integrates the needs of the audience, responds to the possibilities of technology and investigates the wider requirements for ongoing success.
Begin with design
The designer’s approach begins with questioning the brief. Positioned to see your business at face value, they can apply the right amount of intuition, raw creativity and knowledge to visualise how a problem is solved in ways that create value, profit and greater ease of application for your startup.
The design approach as defined by Stanford’s Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design is described a a five-stage process. These stages are not always sequential, and may require designers to work in an iterative manner.
Gaining an empathetic understanding of the problem is key. Typically this is done through some user research and allows for you to set assumptions aside in favour of understanding a user and their needs.
The Define stage is where you analyse your user research, and use your observations to define the core problems you and your team have identified.
With the knowledge you have gathered in the first two phases, you can begin to generate ideas. These might inform solutions to your problem statement, and help you discover alternate ways of viewing the problem.
The prototype phase allows you and your team to begin to establish inexpensive, scaled down versions of a toolkit, and investigate how they will begin to solve the problems previously identified.
The test phase involves rigorous testing of the completed product. This is a great opportunity to take an iterative approach to your results and turn them back into design decisions that will further enhance the product.
Working towards a collaborative solution
Finding the right approach to defining your market fit involves collaboration. The more varied the input, the more diverse, innovative and refreshing the solution. Having multiple perspectives to a familiar problem ensures that you consider it from all sides.
Collaboration with designers ensures that your business feel is more iterative, open and transparent and easier to take part in. An agile, human centred approach will ensure that your brand has room to develop, grow and evolve over time.
A user first approach toward innovation
Design thinking is about moving away from managing and toward innovating. Taking a user first approach, design thinking aims at what users really need.
Spanning multiple disciplines, design thinking tools and methods borrow from a variety of cross paths with psychology and science, and help teams to tackle undefined or unknown problems by reframing them and putting the user at the centre.
Through research and directly speaking to users, designers can help identify the problems that many people face. This insight can be used to delve deeper into customers feelings and experiences, and inform purposeful and innovative change.
With the user in mind, design thinking aims to ensure that solutions are simple, humanising and intuitive.
Recognising the value of the process of design can have will ensure that you meet and exceed users expectations and maintain a philosophy focussed around discovery, opportunity and focussed solutions.
Innovation requires creativity and it lies at the heart of both better design and better business.
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