Gain Better User Adoption the Design Thinking Way

by Aug 22, 2022

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People tend to resist change when change means altering or replacing existing norms of doing things. A new system might fail when users do not accept it even though the system might be effective. Adoption, or lack thereof dictates just how effective a new way of doing things is or isn’t. At the same time, an inefficient system might create value among users if users decide to adopt it. I think we can all agree that user adoption is the primary objective for all products.

User adoption is not something that evolves at a particular point of a product development life cycle. Instead, user adoption requires proper planning and implementation strategy when the product is just an idea. Various products around us have provided amazing user experiences that were useful and served customers effectively. However, they could not make the impact they were intended to make, and in the end failed. Companies should always consider the design of user adoption as a primary part of their entire product life cycle.

What Is User Adoption?

User adoption is a process through which new users become accustomed to products or services and become long-term users. In other terms, it is also known as onboarding. In this case, customers tend to leave using products or services and adopt the new products, if they get value out of it. As users become accustomed to new products because they are effective and are best suited to their needs and serve their purpose, that is when you have achieved user adoption.

What Is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking assists organizations in creating value for people. It aims to solve concrete problems that impact people and deliver solutions that align with people’s needs.

As designers unveil or identify issues, they can bring about innovative solutions. In addition, it enables designers to tackle problems that people find difficult to define or verbalize. Furthermore, Design Thinking assists organizations to lead with innovation.

For example, a human can’t imagine things that cannot be believed. Therefore, it creates difficulty for the designers to land on a solution that does not exist. Using an iterative approach more often leads to innovative solutions.

It makes any organization run more efficiently and faster because it focuses on creating prototypes and testing to check their effectiveness, after a lot of listening to people and defining the problems.

Design Thinking as a philosophy encourages experimentation before launching products in the market that ensures creating value for people. Multiple methodologies move forward the Design Thinking process. Design Thinking aims to gain a clear understanding of the issues before generating an idea. It involves an action-oriented process to collect data that enables the designers to understand issues deeply. The idea generation phase involves various possible solutions, then the designers start prototyping, gaining feedback, and ongoing iterations. All these step-by-step processes after idea generation eliminate bad design. The product or service design involves user input, thereby increasing the chance of user adoption when products are launched.

A deep and clear understanding helps idea generation and expands the chances of creating multiple solutions, which are then analyzed and selected for prototyping and customer feedback. The outcome is the result of prototype iteration and customer feedback. However, companies need to practice patience during the process to get to a proper solution.

Better Products for Better User Adoption

Design Thinking is a process through which companies can design better products to increase the user adoption rate. Better products bring in and retain customers. Thus, it can lead to better user adoption.

Designers can use the following process to gain better user adoption:

Seek Answers by Questioning

A mindset filled with curiosity is a must have in Design Thinking. It is curiosity that leads to asking more questions, conducting research, and seeking to dig deeper into the issues to find solutions. All these processes enable us to come up with a list of solutions and alternatives that can lead to various possibilities to solve the problem. When you surface a list of solutions, they might have a specific purpose to function and advantages to provide a solution. To apply Design Thinking, you must be patient enough to think critically and break down the problem to get a deeper understanding to find out the root cause of the problem that impacts people at an emotional level. As you learn that the emotional impact is, you can begin to seek to create the solution.

Understand the Customer

Design Thinking focuses on the qualitative process of study and then a quantitative approach. It is because Design Thinking is human-centric and looks forward to creating products and services involving people’s needs. When designers interact with clients, they have a chance to clarify their doubts by asking questions. This enables them to have a deep level of perception about the people’s issues, assumptions, desires, and experiences. You can then include the functions or things that fit the client’s use and check what items or functions can be added to the product. In the next stage, you can view the issue and generate ideas by being in their shoes for a moment.

Never be Satisfied

Iteration and feedback are the main part of Design Thinking. There is constant shift in customer’s problems since their desires and uses for commodities and services keep changing. Therefore, it is better not to assume that your understanding of them is enough. It is better to adopt a flexible and ever-changing mindset since, with Design Thinking, constantly questioning and learning about customers is a lifelong process. Adopting or internalizing this process will not only enable you to break down the issues easily and quickly but also enable you to create connections between various problems.

Know When to Switch Mindsets

Whatever the methodology of Design Thinking, it includes various stages of convergent and divergent thinking. Both processes are beneficial only when applied at the right time; otherwise, they can prove detrimental. For example, divergent thinking occurs when designers research ideas, issues or understanding. At this stage, allow yourselves to explore and note down everything and research various aspects, even if that might not be relevant after this stage. It is essential to keep yourself away from judging things during this phase since it might create a hindrance to your creativity.

In the next stage, converge by analyzing the conclusion of the previous phrase, consider the implication, assess limitations, and transform the ideas into essential concepts you can test after interacting with the customers.

Embrace Experimentation

Experimentation such as testing, prototyping, and iteration with the help of feedback is a big part of Design Thinking. Understanding solutions that works and does not work helps draw a line between a good and a bad design. In addition, involving customers in this phrase also ensures that you are doing everything right. It also ensures user adoption of the final product or services when launched successfully.

Recognizing the Impact Beforehand

It is equally important for designers to recognize the impact of launched products. Investing time to check and amend product and services is the key to launching a user-adopted product. For instance, when you have a major technology rollout, the users feel the impact and might have a major disruption. Likewise, users engaging in that technology will have an impact, and their productivity might decrease temporarily while investing time in learning the system. Therefore, designers must acknowledge and properly plan it as a part of the user adoption process.

Strategies to Gain User Adoption Using Design Thinking

Design thinking is a method to solve problems creatively by addressing the needs of people. However, implementing it is tricky. Mistakes in socializing, onboarding, and implementing can cause issues. Following are the strategies to implement design thinking for better user adoption:

Learn What Draws the Customer to your Product

You can put yourself into the customer’s shoes to learn why they prefer your products over other brands. Your sales team might clearly understand this since they are experts in addressing customer issues. You can discuss with them and conduct surveys with your clients to know your drawbacks and plus points. This way, you can implement Design Thinking into your organization to improve user adoption.

By interacting with your customers, you will know the common trends of your products, how the customers talk about them and how often they use them. This interaction will help you learn about your product’s value among the customers. Then while user adopt, you can introduce the parts that can be advantageous to them . This communication can provide your customers with a better experience with your products since you have created it to address their concerns.

Engage in Trial Periods

Trial periods have various customer benefits. Your users can introduce your interface and check if that fits them. However, free trial periods can be counter intuitive. So, you can introduce low-cost trials to help your customers learn about your products.

Customer Onboarding

Customer onboarding is essential for user adoption. You should ensure that your customer journey is seamless, leading to value delivery. It is the process that will want them to return to your products.


Implementing Design Thinking into developing an idea and designing a system, services, or products around it enables you to gain better user adoption. It is because Design Thinking focuses on addressing people’s issues and designing solutions around them. Design Thinking can also help designers become critical thinkers who can learn about customers at a deeper level and help know the issues to be addressed by the products. Employing Design Thinking to solve problems is more creative as well as effective than the traditional methods.

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