Design Thinking & Design Toolkits
Design thinking is primarily a systematic flow of iterative processes that starts with understanding a problem statement in relation to its user, followed by challenging the assumptions and subsequently framing an alternate approach or a solution. With time, it has earned a reputation and credibility in the industry and is now being adopted by the most reluctant of companies. And why would it not be? As an approach, it takes into account every crucial piece of information and helps us arrive at cumulative results with no ultimate saturation. This means results for every phase could be used as a base for a new phase of the design process.
Toolkits enable teams to adapt to this approach with the help of some suggested methodologies and exercises.
Open communities are known for their unique approach to product development. Their practices are open, exclusive and very vocal. They are not structured by hierarchy, and this gives every individual contributor equal rights and establishes that there’s no absolute authority. Despite all of these differences in practice, the primary concerns for the product stay the same as anyone else–– they still have to take into account the attributes and lifestyle of the targeted persona, they have to derive the key insights from their needs and they require some sort of assistive techniques to maneuver these information chunks into concepts, features or improvements. Similar as it may sound, it still has to obey the basics of open practices and that’s where the line is drawn.
Mind The Gap
Let’s look at some of the key difference in the working of a regular vs. an open community that has to be considered while arriving at a new process
- Open communities usually have participants who do not share a geographical location, and not even the same timezones. They do not have access to a common physical location like regular teams do, therefore the chances of miscommunications are higher and so are the efforts for documentation of discussions in a format that could be quickly referred to
- Regular teams mostly have access to financial assistance from their companies. Contributors to open source projects work on their voluntary capacity, so finding funds for exercises like user testing is a rather impractical expectation
- There’s a steep difference in culture compared to regular teams. Open communities are rather very vocal about their opinions and as mentioned before there isn’t any hierarchical system in place. Time is a big concern for open source contributors as most of them scoop out time from their busy lives with a day job
An Exclusive Toolkit For Open Communities
The most basic of concerns when it comes to Open source projects is – trouble in driving with consensus. This often leads to the immature end of a germ of an idea, since there is a lack of provisions to explain the rationale behind the design decisions as well. Therefore, open communities need a toolkit that lets all participants thoroughly voice their opinion, ideas and feedback, enables them to justify the rationale behind the ideas and decisions, and move to the next stage by recording the consensus.
Imagine there being a design research toolkit that counters all of the above-mentioned concerns. On top of that, if it follows the same open principles and allows individual users to fork their own version of the toolkit and make the customization they deem crucial for their project. Open Design Toolkit is a step in that direction.
Open communities are often bound by principles and the inclusion and participation part is kept under check through mailing lists and forum discussion. Since the participants are widely distributed across the globe, managing time gets difficult for open communities. To fit the requirement of such communities, theres a need to meaningfully condense the design process such that the core framework stays intact but demands lesser stages of discussions thus saving time.
Each of the steps mentioned in the design process above has its own contextual requirements in every project. The templates listed below can be used as a facilitation tool for dealing with majority of those contextual situation.
- Persona generation
Using this template, participant could chalk out a quick sketch of the persona they would be dealing with in relation to their project
- Scenario Mapping
In the problem identification stage, it could be useful to create a hypothetical journey for the generated persona and find the pockets where intervention is needed assessing the difficulty they might face in achieving a particular set of tasks. For such mappings, scenario mapping template could be used.
- Pain-point Mapping
This template is to facilitate an exercise that requires participants to put down their thoughts on a piece of chit to be later segregated into clusters in order to identify the over-arching pain-point.
- How do we…?
This template assists in sifting out the actionable solutions resulting from the Pain-point mapping exercise. Towards the end, everyone together provides consensus in deciding what should go as an improvement and what qualifies for a new feature.
In this exercise, after selecting a bunch of solutions from the ‘How do we…?’ phase, all participants are collectively made to improvise on each of them. This helps the ideas mature in depth and practicality as it demands multiple perspectives to assess them. To achieve a consensus, this process could end with a voting round.
- In a parallel world
To motivate participants to puts down the most whackiest of ideas on paper, this template provides the statement starters.
- Feasibility Evaluation
The outcomes from the ‘ideate’ phase could be evaluated against the technological feasibility, practicality of timeline, and the competitive advantage to openly decide on the priority of tasks.
- Heuristic Evaluation
For anyone who has a little experience with experience and interaction design would know the importance of heuristics in the designing of any kind of interface. This template allows quick evaluation of the shortlisted concepts against the ten heuristic principles.
- Entry to exit
Once sure of the concept to proceed with working on, the last step to bring it closer to execution is to define the overall userflow for it.
Users should be free to share, remix and reuse the toolkit resources . To make this possible, the resources mentioned here are released un CC BY-SA-NC 4.0 license.
This license allows users to:
- Allow users to create their own custom version of process templates
- Doesn’t let them commercially exploit the efforts of other community members
- Can be easily edited, shared and remixed
- Would provide a wider reach and hence richer contribution for the toolkit