Traditional Design Thinking vs. Digital Design Thinking

Design Thinking needs a digital upgrade / extension to be more productive and helpful in an environment where organizations are facing digital challenges.

Digital Design Thinking tries to take the best of Design Thinking — its customer and experience mindset — and employ this in a digital environment — at scale. Creating several new benefits to the Design Thinking methodology.

There are a number of advantages to Digital Design Thinking over traditional Design Thinking in the right types fo projects:

A. DATA
A traditional Design Thinking method collects information and data at the beginning of the process, to inform the process, and then the team gets to work — not touching data again. In a Digital Design Thinking approach we are using data all the time. So its not a linear process with data at the beginning, its more a circular process with data at the center, like a hub, feeding every process all the time.

B. REAL-TIME
The nature of physical interviewing and prototyping takes weeks or months to plan, execute and analyze. An organization in a digital environment does not necessarily have this luxury. With Digital Design Thinking we are testing and measuring with real time behavior online. Making an instant feedback loop giving the organization needed insight before it becomes outdated.

C. AT SCALE
A traditional Design Thinking process is limited to the in-depth analysis of the behaviors and thinking of a small group of people. On digital platforms we can test and collect behavioral data at scale — at close to no additional cost.

D. LOW COST
Traditional Design Thinking is a fairly expensive experiment involving several roles, teams and processes. Digital Design Thinking ideally tries to redesign or improve current platforms or business practices.

E. HAWTHORNE-EFFECT
In Design Thinking the prototypes are discussed or experimented with people who know they are being tested. This exposes the experiments to the Hawthorne effect suggesting that people who know they are being observed change their behavior. With Digital Design Thinking there is no indication to the customer that they are in a test. They are experiencing and engaging with a service that they perceive as valuable in itself and they act according to their instincts and motivations. (As an example think of an online tool where you can design your own car or shoes before ordering them.)

F. CONTINUOUS
A traditional Design Thinking project will solve a problem that exists within a limited time frame — when the project is running. In Digital Design Thinking the process is continuous. We are always running experiments, always collecting behavioral data.


This list is not extensive, and I am sure many people will argue that the presentation of Design Thinking is rather narrow, or that I am over valuing the abilities of digital platforms. But neither of those arguments should limit us from exploring the opportunities we can discover when combining Design Thinking with digital abilities.

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