For my Fall 2023 Graphic Design I class final, students were divided into three teams and used design thinking and a user-centered approach to pitch ways to improve Daemen’s Nature Trail to imaginary stakeholders. This project aimed for students to develop a solution to a real-world problem and use graphic design to communicate their solution. So often in marketing, advertising, and software development, teams make pretty visuals to solve a problem that either doesn’t exist or doesn’t work to solve the user’s issues.
In simple terms, design thinking is a set of non-linear steps anyone can use to solve problems. The process begins with empathizing with a user problems surrounding your focus, defining the problem that you want solve, ideating solutions, creating the most effective and economical solution of the ideation session, testing that solution with users, and then iterating on that solution based on user feedback. While this project represented an abbreviated version of the process, in that the students couldn’t test their solution or iterate based on user feedback, it gave them a chance to learn first-hand how major companies create new products and develop marketing strategies.
Below are images from the ideation process, during which students organized their feedback on the trail after walking it together. Check out their presentations, which are also included below. For lack of a more sophisticated description, this project was simply fun. Seeing students critically thinking and collaborating with such energy was a great way to end the semester.