3 ways to solve problems like a designer

By Calli Reynaga

As a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and blogger, I write about things that I’m passionate about: technology, starting a business, marketing, organizations, people, behavior, leadership, productivity, and goal setting. I am always learning and expanding my knowledge base and skills.

For those who are looking for something fresh, and written from a different perspective, keep reading.

My appetite for information is vast and constant. I like to read blogs that teach me something, are entertaining, and well written. I also try to write about interesting topics within my expertise. For those who are currently reading this article, we are going to define UI and UX in technical terms so you can say you learned something and then apply it to solving problems with design for people.

UX Design is another way of saying User Experience Design, while UI Design means User Interface Design.

In general, design is like a blueprint or a plan or rendering to show the look and function of a product (digital). Both are crucial elements to a product and work closely together. UX is more analytical and technical whereas UI is what we mostly know as graphic and visual design.

If the digital product is a human body, the bones give structure just like code, and UX design are the organs measuring and optimizing for supporting life functions. UI design are the cosmetics of the body - presentation, its senses and reactions. You can read more about this relationship. in a layman’s guide.

The best-designed solutions happen when we truly understand the underlying needs. Problems are actual challenges while solutions allow people to understand something. Designers have to cut through the clutter to create a solution that can be communicated to users.

There are a few things you can do to think like a designer. Design thinking is about empathy. This empathy goes beyond knowing and responding to how a person feels. To approach problems through the eyes of a designer or design thinking, empathy is the starting point in a process for innovation. This often leads to better insight into human behavior and inspiration.

In psychology, there are three types of empathy. The first is purely cognitive. This is being able to understand things from another person’s point of view or perspective. This is what UI designers do. The second type, personal distress, is to literally feel another’s emotions. The third is emphatic concern. This type is what most people refer to when they say, “empathy.” It is the ability to feel another person’s emotional state or to feel in tune and show appropriate concern.

All three definitions are what a good designer feels in order to design for people and create solutions to design problems. They must practice empathy and design for people by communicating and with creative problem solving.

Just like a designer, I can use empathy to catapult innovation. By observing, analyzing, and interviewing to create a process, the information I’m gathering will lead to a solution.

Here is a real life problem: my desire is to target a specific demographic of women for an online campaign. After reading about empathy and innovation, these are the 3 steps I plan to use:

1.     Observe

  • Use Facebook groups for ideas and to get in touch with my target audience.
  • Look for and at women’s forum’s to see what they are saying.
  • Go to a group (in-person) for the women you want to talk to.

2.     Analyze

  • Calculate
  • Try to identify patterns in the way people behave.

3.     Interview

  • Use Facebook groups to reach out to women.
  • Message or email to connect, add friends
  • Survey monkey
  • Face-to-face
  • Email
  • Ask how they feel and how to improve their situation

We start with individual needs because designing this way leads to greater awareness and inspiration. The best solutions come from insights into human behavior. I will get a good idea of what my audience thinks, feels, and behaves by observation and through interaction.

What I’ve determined is that I would like to wear the design hat more often. As a creative I can relate to being empathetic and writing to your audience. What I appreciate about designers is the power to solve problems systematically and with creativity. It has given me an efficient way to think through and address problems as they come.

The most useful thing I’m taking with me from this is to feel what your audience feels, whether it be joy, frustration, enlightened, or unsatisfied. You can better relate to their pain points and success. This is crucial when solving problems and creating digital content.

Calli Reynaga is Zen master – a Silicon Valley founder, and creative force behind EVOLVE OS. 

She brings innovation and perpetual improvement to her content, communication strategies, and marketing. She is passionate about helping start ups and individuals communicate articulately both visually and narratively. She has recently consulted with companies, curated web content, and produced copy for corporate stories. Her specialty is messaging and branding. She has studied arts and humanities and is a Communication Specialist at Innowest. Follow her on Twitter and her blog.