UserTesting fmr Product VP on User-Centric Design (Part 2)

When looking at user-centric design, here are the key qualities that define the design thinking process. In summary, design is:

  • Integrated
  • Divergent
  • Empathetic
  • Multidisciplinary

Design is integrated. This means looking at things from a systems level and discovering integrated, holistic solutions. Contrast this with incrementally building up individual solutions piece by piece.  

Design is divergent, so the process is transferrable to different applications. You come up with many ideas, and the best ones probably aren’t the first ones.

Design is empathic. At its core, user-centric design puts user needs first.

In the big picture, design is also multidisciplinary.

It’s not something that comes from one person’s head. Great designers are great facilitators, and they love to borrow ideas. The best results occur when you look at problems in many ways. Design thinking seeks to bring in multiple perspectives – not just subject matter experts.

Design applies to many different challenges that businesses face. Things like team charters, product vision story, business models and value propositions can all be guided by design thinking. When you implement design – the work is much more visual, collaborative and creative.

Cross-Industry Transformation.

A great broadening is occurring around the idea of design and where it can be applied. For example, we see more schools offering design MBA programs. Many of today’s biggest brands have shifted strategies as they compete in areas like user experience.

You can see how significantly design thinking affects companies by checking their ratio of design to engineers. IBM’s ratio went from 1:72 all the way down to 1:8. This implies a lot of cultural transformation as well. Leah Buley who works for InVision, says, “What used to be advanced is becoming table stakes.”

Studies show that companies investing in design are seeing significant advantages, such as:

  • 41% higher market share
  • 46% overall competitive advantage
  • 50% more loyal customers

According to the Design Value Index, companies focusing on design outperform the S&P by 228%. McKinsey also confirmed that design-centric companies significantly beat others in terms of revenue and shareholder return across all industries.

Design For Business, Not Just Product.

When product managers come to me and ask me how to improve their design thinking skills, I’ll often steer them towards deepening their business understanding of design. Instead of learning UX, or how to draw wireframes, it’s much better to use a design approach to solve problems you face now.


Click here for Part 1

Click here for Part 3

About the speaker
Chris Abad Member

Chris Abad is the former Product VP at UserTesting - responsible for driving the company’s product vision and strategy across its portfolio of products. He has more than 15 years of experience building high-performance product and design teams. Prior to joining UserTesting, Chris held leadership roles at companies including Salesforce, InVision, Campaign Monitor - and served as founder of two start-ups. Chris holds a degree from San Diego State University and currently lives in San Francisco.

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