How does a good designer operate? How can they understand users, challenge their own beliefs, and redefine problems to create effective prototypes?

This is what Bekah Diring, an interaction designer for Red Hat’s User Experience Design (UXD) team, asked a group of high school students. She and fellow designer Gina Doyle helped lead the first meeting of a UX workshop series for Boston Public School students run by visual designer Mary Shakshober. For years, Red Hat’s Boston office has collaborated with the Boston Private Industry Council to engage students with the tech industry through internships and mentoring programs. After participating as an intern mentor, Shakshober wanted to continue working with the program in a larger capacity.

She created this workshop series to share the importance of design thinking with students. “The design thinking process is a good way to kick off really any introduction to UX,” Shakshober said. “It helps practitioners of UX to think holistically about a process, rather than associating it just with design. Design thinking also helps to build problem solving and communication skills too.”

So what did these students learn? How can a UX designer work comprehensively to achieve success? To find the answer, we’ll look at the design thinking process.

What is design thinking?

In short, design thinking is the process of creating designs that solve real problems.

It’s easier said than done, of course. Design thinking is a multifaceted process involving five major areas of focus:

  • Empathize: Recognizing and removing your own biases, centering the user, and understanding them/ their problems through research.
  • Define: Use data from user research to define (or redefine) problem statements.
  • Ideate: Generate new ideas that center the users, their needs, and your problem statements.
  • Prototype: Produce mock-ups of your ideas to address each problem encountered in the design process.
  • Test: Share prototypes with users and gather feedback to begin a new iteration of the design process.

The five components of the design thinking process interact in complicated ways. The process isn’t a straightforward charge from one step to the next until you are finished. It’s nonlinear, cyclical and continuous. It’s flexible and dynamic. Most importantly, it’s iterative.

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Get schooled on UX: learning the design thinking process at Red Hat
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