Normally, when we think of design, what we’re thinking about is something that’s made to be aesthetically pleasing. However, an important distinction between design and art is that the former also needs to fulfil a purpose.
When one’s designing a technology, software program, app, or solution, one wants it to solve a problem. It’s not just to look good or make them a millionaire (although that would be a very happy side effect).
Of course, that meant that people would put more effort into the appearance of a product than its functionality. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t prioritise visual appeal. However, if the design were to be represented by a Venn diagram, it should fall in the overlap between desirability, viability, and feasibility.
Desirability comes first because people should want it. Visual appeal plays a part, but it also needs to solve problems.
However, no matter how brilliant the product or design idea is, it also needs to be technically possible. There’s no point in coming up with an idea if you don’t have the technology available to build it.
Finally, there should be a market for it. Why would you develop a product that no one’s going to buy?
Now, in the past, one would come up with an idea and then find a way to make it appeal to customers.
However, there’s a new trend emerging now—design thinking.
What Is Design Thinking?
Instead of focusing on taking a product or service and making it desireable, design thinking urges practitioners to think about the people who will be using it. It is an iterative process, where you are compelled to look at the users’ problems and create a solution for them. This solution is then tested and tweaked until it’s perfected.
It uses five phases, which are:
These are non-linear phases, so you may find yourself moving from one phase to another, as you refine your design.
So, how can design thinking be used in digital marketing?
Understanding The Five Phases of Design Thinking
For this, we’d need to look at the five phases and understand them.
To empathise with your clients, you’d need to put yourself in their shoes and understand what their pain points are. For that, you have to listen to them and learn what their needs are.
The next step is to distil the information they’ve shared into a core problem—to define it.
Once you have a single core issue, you’d get together with your team to come up with solutions. This is the ideation phase.
Of course, no matter how good the idea is, it has to be implemented to see if it works. So, you pick one of the brilliant ideas you’ve developed and test it out as a prototype.
You keep testing, prototyping, defining, ideating, and rinse and repeat until you have a solution that addresses the client’s core problem effectively.
Applying Design Thinking Principles to Digital Marketing
Communicating With the Client
Any SEO or digital marketer will tell you that each client is different. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to have a one-size-fits-all approach to digital marketing. Whilst you may have a strategy work really well with one client, it’s not guaranteed to work for another.
Of course, that’s what mediocre marketing agencies will do.
However, if you were to apply design thinking to your approach with clients, you’d realise that you first need to listen to them and find out their problems. And, you will also discover that sometimes, clients don’t know—or can’t verbalise—what their actual problem is.
I mean, we are all familiar with clients who say “I just want to be at the top of Google” when you ask them what they require from your service.
So, you’d need to ask a lot of open-ended questions.
Plus, it’s not enough to have a discovery call and never speak to them again. You need to get their feedback, input, their thoughts on whether the strategy is working or not, and more.
Brainstorming Ideas With the Team
I know it’s a bit of a cliché to say “Think outside the box,” but ideation is more than just coming up with a few ideas and stopping. Sometimes, you need to look at the problem differently. It might be as simple as combining two of the client’s services to make a new service that would be more in demand.
If you can’t get creative ideas flowing, maybe look at strategies such as mind mapping, rapid sketching, and role-playing scenarios.
Anticipating the Needs of the Client
All the communication in the first step should give you a good idea of what the client wants, needs, and is expecting. However, you also need to follow this up with getting their feedback regularly.
If you have a client profile—filled in with their likes and dislikes—you’d be able to design solutions tailored to their needs. This will also contribute to a personalised experience, where your solutions are not generic.
Following the Spirit of Design Thinking
If you drill down into the five phases of design thinking, the basic principles you can get from them are transparency, simplicity, and creativity. It’s important to manage expectations and be clear with the client about what you’re doing and why.
It’s also beneficial to keep things simple, yet effective, instead of chasing grand ideas and solutions. Finally, you want to stand out from the crowd with your innovations. Treating each client’s problem as unique allows you to think in ways you wouldn’t if you were lumping them together with others.
Of course, if you’re a tech company and need marketing services, you want a specialised SEO agency like Geeky Tech that can give you tailored solutions designed for you. Such a company would be able to work with you to deliver solutions that are bespoke, not off-the-shelf.
Parul Mathur has been writing since 2009. That’s when she discovered her love for SEO and how it works. She developed an interest in learning HTML and CSS a couple of years later, and React in 2020. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading, walking her dog, messing up her garden, or doodling.