Using Design Thinking To Connect With Your Audience

We’re all self-centred. We want to know ‘What’s in it for me?’ and ‘How does this apply in my situation?’ As a learning designer, I aim to create effective, engaging and meaningful learning, so understanding who my users are and what they need and want, is a priority during the design stage.

Do you know what motivates your users? What delights them? What challenges them? What frustrates them? Using design thinking during the design phase will help to answer these questions, so that you can tailor your learning solution specifically to your audience’s requirements.

What is design thinking? Design thinking uses techniques and tools to get to the heart of the problem. It’s about adopting the mindset of your users, seeing the problem or situation through their eyes and is focused on creating solutions that meet their specific needs and wants.

Tips To Drive Design Thinking

  • Collaborate. Two heads are better than one. Invite your users to co-create their personas. If possible, formulate the personas through focus groups and interviews.
  • Delve Deeper. Consider more than just the job role of the user. Explore their daily tasks, motivations, pains etc.

Design Thinking Process

Let’s focus on the first stage, the Research stage, because I believe that getting to the heart of who the user is, creates the foundation for the design.

Researching involves empathy and defining the problem. It’s a discovery process, where you attempt to identify the explicit and implicit needs of your users, so that you can meet them through your design. Place yourself in the users’ shoes, and focus on the emotional experience that they have when facing a specific problem. This will also help you to define or reframe the problem you are trying to solve. Sometimes the perceived problem isn’t the actual problem and as such you may be creating a solution that doesn’t fulfil the need.

You may be wondering what this looks like in practice? Think about who your solution is aimed at and how they will use it to solve their problem. I start by listing and categorising the different kinds of users. From this list, I then create personas using empathy mapping. It includes information about what the users’ think and feel, such as their fears when learning, their previous experiences, how they learn and so forth. These personas help to create examples of actual people who will be using the solution.

When you start to collate information from the persona profiles, you will undoubtedly identify commonalities amongst the personas. Use these to guide your design as you move into the ideation phase. Even if you’re only creating a single stand – alone learning module, you can use this knowledge within the module to tap into user motivations.

An effective learning design is one that connects to and resonates with your users. This can be achieved through collaborative effort. You will gain a perspective of the problem, and bring ideas to life based on how real users think, feel and behave. Consider how many training programs are not fulfilling their intended goals or are just boring. It will highlight the value of discovering who your users are and what they need and want.

Get in touch with us to discuss how we can use design thinking to transform your learning experiences.

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