To really understand how valuable and important design thinking is, let's look at the consequences of poor design thinking
A great design is straightforward, aesthetically pleasing, and user-friendly. It generates a feeling of purpose and place, satisfies user requirements, and simply functions. Businesses that see the advantages of incorporating "design thinking" into their processes are generating millions, if not billions, of dollars.
The core principle behind design thinking is empathy for the end user, which allows the organization to create products and services that are both innovative and intuitive. Ultimately it reduces the friction in the customer experience leading to higher engagement, conversion, and loyalty.
To truly appreciate the value and importance of design thinking, let’s look at the consequences of poor design or lack thereof. From poorly designed products to unusable government websites, look around, and you will see many examples of this.
Complex design defies the premise of design thinking, makes it cumbersome for the user to interact and increases the learning curve—increasing friction and ultimately turning the user away.
Oversimplifying the Design
Conversely, oversimplifying the design to the point where it is meaningless or trivial is equally counterproductive. As Einstein once said, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Lack of Compatibility or Backward Compatibility
A new design done without considering previous versions is asking for trouble. A radical design transition only makes it harder for users to migrate to the new design, even if the previous design is noticeably bad or disliked. We are all familiar with internet banking apps or websites that have changed overnight, rendering it difficult to use.
Function without Form.
An emphasis on functionality rather than form can lead to a design outcome that may be rich in features but lacking intuitiveness. Organizations' typical mistake is letting the engineering team responsible for the product decide on the user experience. A famous example is how Apple capitalized on the mistake of the competition and flipped the paradigm. Apple revolutionized the smartphone design by doing away with a fixed, clunky keypad in favor of a touch screen.
Design for Design Sake
Here is the converse of “function without form” or design for design’s sake. A design that strives to make it appealing (or win awards) but fails to solve its purpose is a wasted design. Some would argue that function without form is better than form without function.
Inconsistent Design Language
Not adhering to a common visual identity or corporate identity creates inconsistency across the design. An inconsistent design creates dissonance with the user when they interact with it. E.g., When using Windows software, we expect the toolbar or the menubar to appear on top. The user would be confused if the position was flipped to the bottom or somewhere else.
Have you been to a website—usually belonging to a PSU or a state-owned entity—where you can’t find your way around and give up? This is an example of poor navigation. They may waste the user's time by going too deep or not making it obvious what to click or even where to click.
Cheap Materials in Design
As a result of using cheaper materials to keep costs down, designers may negatively impact durability, aesthetics, long-term costs (due to more warranty work), and reputation (perceived as cheap quality). This could also have an impact on the environment, especially when using cheaper yet environmentally harmful materials.
It's ok to stick with a tried and tested design – the scissor design hasn't changed much in centuries – but not updating the design with the times can lead to an outdated and anachronistic design. For example, websites that still use table styling instead of DIVs and CSS. Similarly, the keyboard design created for typing is not ergonomic for other popular activities, such as gaming.
Accessibility refers to a product's or service's ability to be used by all potential customers. Ignoring this rule causes an entire segment of the population to be ignored, especially those with disabilities.
Lack of Localization
Localization refers to the process of modifying a product's messaging, images, brand voice, and features to meet the needs of a specific market. Lack of localization or poor localization can cause confusion, disinterest, or even dissent.
This is the worst of all, especially since the flaw in the design can be fatal. E.g. having the same bottle design from the same manufacturer for bleach and laxative, rotary gear selectors posing as volume knob, and use of touchscreen controls in mission-critical machines (instead of buttons).
In summary, the consequences of poor design are enormous, not just financially but also in terms of brand reputation, customer satisfaction, and employee morale. Poor design can lead to higher costs, lower sales, and lost customers. It could also make customers unhappy or angry, which could make them leave bad reviews and turn off current or future customers.