The Design Thinking Framework

Design Thinking 101 by NN/g

The NN/g Design Thinking Framework

NN/g’s design thinking framework allows us to follow a process towards matching digital content strategies to audience goals. The framework follows an overall flow of 1) understand, 2) explore, and 3) materialise – which then fall into a further 6 phases: empathise, define, ideate, prototype, test, and implement.

It’s important to note that a framework is just that and depending on the deadline for a project we don’t always have the time to go through the full process in great detail or depth. However, successful digital content strategies are more likely to meet both the goals of the audience and the goals of the client if we follow a framework.

Audience goals and client goals

Audience goals and client goals can be very different. A client may have a goal to influence audience behaviour or to share information and for the audience to respond. The audience will have their own goals, they may be searching for information about a particular subject, product or service and the audience’s own user experience (XP) will determine what action, if any, they take. NN/g have a set of resources and templates to help visualise the delivery of audience goals and client goals, these include empathy maps, journey mapping and storyboarding.

Information, education, promotion

The insights gained through working through the NN/g framework help us to determine what communication strategy to use for a digital content project. For example, content may need to educate, inform, change behaviour or promote (or a mixture of all of these). Again it’s important to remember that the user experience (UX) will determine what actions an audience might take.

Media formats and channels

Budget and deadlines will usually determine what media formats/assets to develop – and across which channels. Creative strategies will also play a part. Decisions around which creative ideas provide the best communication solution and creative skills such as copywriting, page and post styling, photography/images, interaction design, use of graphics, illustrations and/or animations – or whether to make a 10″, 30″ or 60″ short video – usually depend on the deadline, the budget, the communication and the creative skills available.

Things to consider when making digital media content

  • Plan for the user experience (UX)
  • Start with rough storyboards and prototypes
  • Test your rough storyboards and prototypes with about 5 different members of your audience
  • Learn what works for your audience
  • Be prepared to change or adapt your idea if it doesn’t work
  • Things go wrong, people get sick and people have competing priorities, so be prepared for this
  • Risk assessments, inclusion, ethics and copyright
  • Monitor the impact of your content and incorporate the learning in to new content

Back to audience goals and client goals

Whether you are working with a small budget or a large budget, working within a framework (like the NN/g design thinking framework) will help you to make the right content to support the client’s goals and your audience’s goals.

As Jakob Nielsen says “a wonderful interface solving the wrong problem will fail.”

If you would like to work with me on your next digital content project please contact wendycorbett@me.com

References: https://www.nngroup.com – World Leaders in Research-Based User Experience

Useful Links

Research, creative ideas, reviews and case histories.

(Industry websites and magazines).

‘To change the world, first imagine a better one’


wearefurerra.com (reference for the above title video if it is not visible).

Useful Resources











By Wendy Corbett, Nov 2020.