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The Design Thinking Toolkit

Posted by Jacqui on 20th December 2021

Our clients come from many sectors and range in size from established international giants to fast-growing companies and charities. 

The Open University, based in Milton Keynes, is the UK’s largest academic institution. As the UK’s leader in distance learning, with more than 210,000 students across 570 courses, this makes them the largest academic community in Europe.

2001 was when we originally started working with the OU. VI understood then, as we do now, that building a strong relationship would be fundamental to creating and sustaining the business relationship and making it long-standing. 

All businesses are different therefore, we always go that extra mile to understand each client’s unique requirements. It goes without saying that getting to know the client’s business and their language is vital.

The OU aims to inspire individuals to realise the endless possibilities available to them if they act on their own ambition. This understanding has helped VI to develop a long term working relationship – and enabled us to work across the many OU departments, delivering numerous and projects of all kinds (digital and traditional), for over 20 years.

Fast forward, one of the many projects commissioned by the OU in 2021, was to deliver an online brochure, that would be used as a toolkit for anyone who wanted to understand how to develop problem-solving tasks for product and service-related problems. The concept solution was to use illustration and information design to visually demonstrate that by collaboration the tools and processes within the toolkit will enable individuals and organisations how to develop strong solutions to complex problems.

The Toolkit itself was conceived to be based on the Design Councils Double Diamond model, used by VI, and was developed originally back in 2004 and has now been further honed to incorporate innovation.

Design thinking is a concept that puts users of products and services first and the overall goal of design thinking is to develop answers to ‘wicked problems’ (Rittel and Webber,1973) by understanding complex issues and then collaborating with users of particular products and services to develop solutions to defined problems or issues.

The OU, as an organisation, has an audience that is large and diverse and it prides itself on making education accessible to all. Therefore the brochure design uses illustrations that are especially effective because they are visually concise, these bespoke illustrations provide immediate recognition, making complex concepts easier to understand, and as a document, it is more memorable. Each chapter/section is coloured coded for strong signposting and the design was extended to other marketing assets such as posters and banners.

Working closely with the OU, we developed a visually focussed design that complimented and worked with the Design Thinking concept and approach.

Truly understanding what the client wants has helped us to determine how we can best add value.  In doing so, we have developed a strong client relationship that goes above and beyond what they expect, at all times.