Someone is redesigning the Design Thinking process

So What? right?

Well, make a search on Google for “UCD process” or “Design Thinking process” and many different diagrams will show up. This means that for someone new in the field, it’s almost impossible to choose one, or, you hear people going on pointless discussions about which one is best.

They all look different, but the fact is that they are all just covering the same principles:

  • know your real problem through discovery, research, empathy
  • make your hypothesis visible via some sort of prototype
  • Test that prototype
  • Implement your idea or continue to iterate

I’m sure I’m missing some stuff on my description above, but for the sake of simplifying this post, let’s say it’s OK. These diagrams also depict a process that is more or less linear. This is not true. Real world work is way more complex than that. Real world work is not linear, is full of complexity.

Enjoy your reading here:

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Grassroots Innovation products = a rich set of requirements

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with insomnia, and when that happens, the best you can do is to make that time productive (and spend the day after, drinking coffee), right?  … So, I wrote this post.

In UX there’s a fair amount of projects which goal is to redesign applications that were developed during years, (if not decades) by internal teams. The focus of these teams is on features and not on the User friendliness of the tool.

The end result after years of development is translated in to a set of unorganized interaction patterns. But the tool somehow works, because it was intended for a specific audience.

Grassroots Innovation

India is known for the jugaad kind of innovation, something developed in a very frugal way with cheap and easily accessible resources. I thank the Indians for giving us, their attitude of bending the rules with simple fixes and work-arounds, I simply love that.

The web is flooded with pictures of funny solutions (specially of transportations means) that “express a need to do what needs to be done, without regard to what is conventionally supposed to be possible”.

Make the tool accessible to bigger audiences

But what if one has to industrialize it for production, to be used by many people (besides the one who created it), to respect legislation and good practices? Some redesign has to be made, of course, the kind of redesign that I wrote above.


When I’m invited to redesign a tool that is a result of this “Jugaad” attitude, there’s something really important to keep in mind: what you have in front of you is “only” a very good list of requirements, but is our goal as Designers to make that product accessible to a wider group of users:

  • by giving consistency through a set of known interaction patterns,
  • by making design decisions that are aligned with the development constrains and the business needs,
  • by respecting legislations.

So our job is, most of the times, “just” to bring order to users life’s.

“What do you Want?”

First rule about User Research: Never ask, “What do you Want?”; Second rule about User Research: Never ask, “What do you Want?; Third rule about User Research: … Well, you see where this goes, right?

I found this interesting article that puts this idea in a nutshell, and provides a good alternative. You better ask this in your next conversation with users:

  • What are you trying to get done? Why?
  • How do you currently do this?
  • What could be better about how you do this?




UX metaphor

Because I always find it difficult to explain to someone what I do, I found this picture to be a very good starting point of a conversation about the topic.
UX approach to solving design problems is one that goes top down from conceptual ideas (UX Strategy) to very specific design solutions (Interaction Design), in that sense our field needs powerfull memes like this one to help evangelize the field.

On the other hand when one is very much involved with IT development teams (like me for the past months) and the discussion is between “out of the box solutions” versus custom development, this image also helps explain the idea to developers and business.