Who are your products and services for? This lesson is all about designing with your customer in mind. When you take this kind of user-centred approach, it helps you make sure you meet their needs. And this works, whatever their needs are.

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In this lesson, we’ll take you through the design process. Then we’ll show you how to apply this to products and services. So you have the tools and the skills to start to design for all of your customers.

KEY LEARNINGS

  • Know if your goods and services are right for your customers

  • Describe the design process

  • Pick the right tools and methods to help you

Read time:

12 mins

Chapter 1

Get started with design

Read time:

4 mins

The design process

What is the design process? It’s the way you create your products and services. It’s a step-by-step route to help you meet customer needs. When you use this process, you’re aiming to meet the needs of your customers and your business.

The process involves several stages. These can vary depending on the approach you take. But they generally cover the following:

Coming up with ideas

Sketching out how these would look

Building a model or prototype

Testing and refining your model

Often, you’ll loop round one or more of these stages. This can help you as you deliver and improve on your design.

It’s worth noting there are many design approaches. We’re going to look at one of them in this lesson to get you started.

 

Design Thinking

The Design Thinking framework is a problem-solving approach to design.

It’s a non-linear, iterative process that broadly covers the following steps.

 

Understand/empathise

In this first step, you’re looking to understand your customers. This means setting aside any assumptions you may have about them. You spend this time finding out what they really want and need. So you might do some market or consumer research. If you have customer data, you would analyse this. You’re gradually building up a profile of your users’ needs and wants.

 

Define

Next, it’s time to write a problem statement, based on your customers’ needs. This tells you what your product or service needs to solve.

 

Ideate

Now you know you’re trying to solve, you can start coming up with possible solutions. In this approach, the idea is to look at it from different viewpoints. Why not get together with your team to brainstorm, or use other techniques to do this? The more ideas you generate, the better. Don’t worry if you think some are not great. You can always drop them later on.

 

Prototype

This step is where you make one or more prototypes of your ideas. You can share and test these with others, to help you decide which ones to take further.

You’ll start to note any issues with your design, and changes you may need to make. At the end of this step, you should have a better idea of how your design will meet your users’ needs.

 

Test

Once you have prototypes for your solutions, it’s time to try them out. It’s important – but can be hard - to be objective here. Don’t get too attached to a particular design. Jot down what you like – and what you don’t. Get your team to test it, too. They’ll often try it out in other ways. You could also test direct with customers.

 

Design thinking is not linear

This is key. You won’t always move from one step to the next. You’ll be assessing what works and refining at every step, all the time.

For instance, you may come up with new ideas, while testing others. You may decide that to build a particular design, you need to go back to your users and find out more about their needs. This means you may cycle through this process many times before you reach a design that works for your users.

 

Other design approaches to try

Design thinking is just one way of looking at the process of design. We’ve listed a few others here, for you to compare.

 

Select each one to find out more

  • The Design Council describe four stages of design: Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver. The first two stages form the first 'diamond'. This is when you explore a need or issue more widely or deeply. The second diamond includes the last two stages. It's when you act on what you've found.

    Just like Design Thinking, it's not linear. And you can loop back around the stages at any time, as often as you need to.

  • The focus here is on building user feedback into every stage. So your customers actively help to design, build and test. When you involve them in this way, you have a better chance of designing something that really meets their needs.

    While Design Thinking works well for new products or services, HCD can often help when you want to improve existing ones. By asking your customers 'how is this for you?', you can adapt your designs to meet their needs. You can also combine the two.

  • In this approach, there are six phases - Understand, Define, Sketch, Decide, Prototype and Validate. Each phase has a fixed time limit. And the time limits are short. One 'sprint' through the process may only last five days - that's a day for each phase. You can then add further sprints to refine and develop your design.

    For some, this approach is very appealing. Because when you produce a design this quickly, you can see at an early stage if it's worth taking forward.

Chapter 2

Design your products

Read time:

4 mins

New and existing products

You may have a clear design approach for new products. This might change when you want to re-design existing ones.

With a new product, you may start with your mission in mind. For example, you may aim to launch an eco-friendly hair product. You do your research and find a gap in the market. So you go ahead, designing a product and you start to sell it.

As time passes, you gather data on how your customers use this product. They may give you feedback on challenges that they face. Your focus moves from your mission to your customers’ experiences. So when you come to re-design your product, you see how to make it better for your users.

 

How to apply Design Thinking to product design

Let’s work through the stages of Design Thinking for products now. We’ll point out where things might be different for new and existing products.

 

Understand/empathise

This is where you aim to capture the needs of your users. For new products, you could use personas to do this. These are short descriptions you write that depict a type of user you want to attract. You might also use market research. For existing products, why not ask your customers directly – with surveys, interviews or through online feedback.

 

Define

In this stage, put your research into a problem statement. What problems do your customers face? Now try completing the question ‘How can we …(solve this problem)’.

Remember – you’re just asking the question at this point.

 

Ideate

This is where you come up with as many ideas as possible. Then look at each idea in turn and ask:

  • How effective is this?
  • How achievable is this?

 

This helps you refine your list of ideas. You’re now ready to take the best ones forward.

 

Prototype

Start by sketching out your product. You want to create a minimum viable product (MVP). This is a product with just enough features to test it and check any assumptions.

 

Test

Test your product with your customers and team. Listen to their feedback. What works for them? What doesn’t?

 

Review and iterate your product design

Remember – this process is not linear. So all the way through, you’re assessing, looping back, making changes. Then you test these changes to see if your users think it’s better.

 

Here's some ideas to help you design your product.
Select each one to find out more

  • Your users are the best people to test your designs. After all, they're the ones who will be using them. For new products, get feedback from potential users. You want to see how well the design meets their needs and expectations.

  • This means looking at the product's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. What does this design do well? How can it improve? What market opportunities does it have? What are the barriers it faces?

  • If you have data, use this to help you test and refine your product. Look at key performance indicators such as sales, conversion rates and user engagement.

  • Seek out your team members, investors and other key people. Ask them for their feedback. This all helps to make sure the design aligns with your company's goals and values.

  • Look at how your product design compares to what your competitors have. What makes your design better or different from theirs?

  • Take the feedback and insights you get through testing and ideating. Tweak your design and continue iterating until you're happy with the final solution.

Product launch

Once you have a design you’re happy with, it’s time to launch. You can use the ideas and feedback from the design process to help this.

 

Use design insights to help with:

  • Where to focus – Focus on manufacturing, distribution and physical aspects
  • What to emphasise – Highlight your product’s features, performance and durability
  • How to price – You may base this on production costs, materials and market demand
  • Promoting your product – Do this through advertising, packaging and traditional marketing channels
  • Other things to consider – What is the lifespan of the product? How durable is it?

Chapter 3

Design your services

Read time:

3 mins

What is service design?

Service design is different to when you design a product. When you design a service, you’re building a customer experience. And you need to think about the whole experience, from start to finish.

 

So you’ll think about:

  • How you communicate with your users
  • Who will help to deliver the service
  • What systems or processes you need to build or change
  • What else you need

 

Just like product design, your approach may be different for new services and those you want to change. When you give a new service, your customers may not have anything to compare it to. If you change the way you deliver a service, they may prefer the old way. So there are different challenges for each.

 

How to apply Design Thinking to service design

Let’s see how this approach works for service design. And as we look at each stage, we’ll point out any differences for new and existing services.

 

Understand

For service design, you are trying to find out about user experience. It’s not just about asking what users like or not. You need to know what they expect through the whole experience.

Personas or user profiles can help when you’re designing new services. If you’re looking to improve existing services, try customer journey mapping. These techniques can help you build a picture of what your users need or want from your service.

 

Define

Use your customer journey maps and personas to define the service experience that your users want. Try writing these down from a user’s point of view.

For instance, you might write ‘I need/want to…’ (say here what the user wants to do) ‘… so that …’ (say why they want to do this).

This helps make it clear what your customers need from your service. It also shows you what you need your service to do, to meet those needs.

 

Ideate

Now it’s time to come up with ideas. Try brainstorming and co-creation sessions with others to get different ideas and solutions.

Be open to new ideas and tools that can improve the service.

 

Prototype

When you prototype your service solution, you’re showing others how it would work.

Be creative when you think about how you’ll do this. You might start by writing down what the service does. A diagram can help you show activity flow. Add details as you go. Next, think about how you can model the whole user experience.

Your prototype should be as close to the real service experience as possible, within the timeframes you set yourself.

 

Test

Testing a service design means checking each stage of the experience. Just like product design, your customers can help here. What works? Does it flow or are there gaps? Do you have everything you need? This is often the point where you see what is missing.

 

Review and iterate your service design

Keep going around that loop. Note new ideas and feed them into your solution. Use feedback from user tests to improve your model. Keep doing this until you are happy with your design.

 

Service launch

When you’re happy with your service solution, it’s time to launch it. Use the ideas and feedback from your service design process to help this.

 

Your service design insights can help with:

  • How to price – This may be based on time and expertise
  • Who delivers the service – Give your team all the tools and training they need to do this
  • Promoting your service – Tempt users with previews and discounts, use customer reviews and support
  • Other things to consider – How often will customers use your service? And for how long?

After the launch

Use metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) to measure the success of the service.

Chapter 4

Next steps

Read time:

1 min

What you’ve got so far

In this lesson, you learned how to:

  • Work out if your goods and services are right for your customers
  • Describe the design process
  • Find the right tools and methods to help you

 

Now you can start to put this into practice. Here are some resources that may help you:

 

Lloyds Bank Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Lloyds Bank does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 21st April 2023.