Design for technology businesses

Design thinking for new technology developers


Whether you plan to work with a designer or use design methods yourself, you can benefit from design thinking. Thinking like a designer means shaping ideas into practical and attractive propositions for customers.

Customer focus

Design is a user-centred discipline. Designers research and evaluate new ideas from the view of the customer or user first. User-centred design is based on getting potential customers involved in the process of developing your technology so that you can make sure you are creating products that they want to use.

Innovative thinking

Working with someone who is prepared to challenge the status quo can help you identify new, better ways of doing things. Designers can offer this sort of thinking and they:

  • are willing to take risks
  • can accept high levels of uncertainty
  • have the drive to turn an idea into practical conclusions and applications
  • are able to inspire and work with others

Early visualisation and experimentation, combined with user-testing your products, are key to innovation.

Tools or methods that help with design thinking

Your technology development/innovation team might want to use some of these tools:

  • Brainstorming - to generate new ideas. It can also identify potential market applications, unique selling points and the features, advantages and benefits of a particular technology.
  • Visualisations - images can help you explain your ideas to potential investors, licensees, users or interested press.
  • Prototyping can help you learn from mistakes. Prototypes can also explain how your ideas could be useful and how they will look and feel. This can help you improve your design quickly.
  • Branding - customers will often choose a successful or familiar brand over one they do not know. So it is important to establish your brand and use it in the right way, for the right products.
  • Interface design - you should think about how people can interact with your technology. This can include software, electronics or parts of an overall product - eg a gear stick of a car.

Working with people from different disciplines

Design thinking is based on being able to see an idea from different perspectives. The way to achieve this is to collaborate with people who do different types of work - not just other technologists or engineers.

Designers can help you form multi-disciplinary teams including designers, engineers, inventors, anthropologists, ethnographic researchers, business managers, and marketing and communication specialists to drive new thinking and business development. Find out which technology businesses can use design.