By: Zsofia Walter

Coming into the design process it seemed simple. You just have to Understand, Create, Evaluate and Communicate. Four easy steps right? It seems straightforward, but in each phase you are constantly fighting your instincts. 

In the “Understand” phase you must try to eliminate your biases and truly listen to your user’s perspective, not implanting your own thoughts. You can’t simply choose the problem that you find most compelling and interesting, and even when you feel like you’ve hit on something meaningful you have to keep digging. In the “Create” phase it is crucial to remain problem-oriented and embody the “yes, and” mindset. You have to resist the urge to shoot down improbable ideas, but also not run with the first idea that excites you. Balancing these two sides and pushing yourself to keep brainstorming is critical to coming up with a great solution. 

In the “Evaluate” phase you must force yourself to reach out for feedback from as many stakeholders as possible, accept criticisms and be willing to adapt. At the same time it is vital to understand the perspective of the people you get feedback from. Without taking into account the perspective of a stakeholder, their advice could completely derail your concept unnecessarily. In the “Communicate” phase I have learned that less is more. Being able to communicate your concept in a simple yet effective way is necessary to get your idea out to as many people as possible. It’s not necessary to add every feature of the platform, simply the most important ones that allow your idea to be understood. 

I thought I understood the design phase before coming into this program, but now I see that my understanding then only scratched the surface. I see now that I can use design thinking and methodology to tackle any problem, not only in my professional but also in my personal life. This program has also shown me the real value in “soft” skills that I always found important but never knew how they were applicable to my career. I truly believe that with what I have learned about teamwork, open source methodologies and design thinking along with my knowledge of computer science and math I can create a real impact in any field.