Why does one choose to use Gmail over Yahoo, Medium over Blogger — if the features are 99% the same? It’s definitely not about disrupting usability standards. It’s about that additional layer of sophistication that can only be achieved when you put enough time and brainpower into the tiniest details, the most subtle animations, the most elegant transitions – not just for the sake of creating whimsical dribbble shots.
Software development in general doesn’t have a ‘synthesis’ stage. Often the learnings from the last iteration are the direct input for the next iteration. It’s common for requirements to be collected and then, at best, prioritised before work commences. Design Thinking is better at taking learnings and then spotting patterns to make an informed leap to something new. This mysterious process of synthesis is possibly more unique to IDEO than we realise.
On entry points: A common first step when designing a new feature is to dive straight into creating mocks that show how this feature will work. That’s like designing the layout and configuration of your outdoor space before first asking “Is it behind the house? Is it on the roof?” Start by asking “How will people discover this feature?” Nailing the entry point tends to be harder and more important to the success of what you’re building than debating the finer points of how that feature will work once people get there.