DX, API Design & Documentation

Using APIs in a Design Thinking Approach to Problem Solving


Anikesh Sasmal is a Senior Product Owner at MLC Life Insurance. In this article, he discusses using APIs in design thinking.

Design thinking is a customer-focused innovation methodology emphasizing empathy, rapid prototyping, creative ideation, revolutionizing product service organization, developing and relying on genuine customer needs, historical data, and instinctual decisions. This definition is complex to remember, so simply put, what design thinking is all about is what truly human beings desire.

So, design thinking is about –

  • Desirability – what makes sense to the people, for the people
  • Viability – is it likely to become a part of a sustainable business?
  • Feasibility – is it technically possible?

The sweet spot over here is innovation, which takes care of these principles and comes up with a solution for the problem.

There are five phases to design thinking –

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test

Earlier, it was linear, but now it is changing into non-linear. You need not go through all the phases. However, this does not always work for large organizations. It can be ineffective and costly. But if you’re running a campaign and want to experiment with a user and check the product’s viability, you can use a wireframe. If customers react well, then you can go into the prototyping phase.

Traditionally, a lot of people use survey forms to get feedback from their customers. Now, you can use social media to get feedback. Then, you can find the trends using neural natural language processing in Google or IBM. You can use a geolocation API or API gateway at the ideation stage. Then, in the prototype stage, you can use data integration APIs, build a payment gateway, and use an API to test.

Let us consider a use case. I had a small DJ deck that I bought in 2016 in Australia. During the lockdown, I decided to start a company. During that time, the music industry was dead. There were no events, parties, or music festivals. I tried to empathize with social media, leveraging Facebook Graph, Instagram, and APIs to understand the usage and gain insights into preferences and engagement patterns. User Analytics APIs and Google Trends provided deep insights into user behavior and engagement during the challenging period. I realized that people started watching YouTube, so I started publishing Vlogs. I gathered feedback and made amends. I harnessed Google Business and Google Maps APIs post lockdown, identifying optimal event locations. I created and updated my Instagram page with content users were looking for. I used Wix to develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) website. This streamlined the event planning process, ensuring a seamless user experience. I utilized Google Optimize and integrated Gcodes into the Wix platform, optimizing the website for search engines and enhancing online visibility. This approach ensured the website’s discoverability and drove traffic, maximizing its online presence and potential reach.

The result is that I have 100k followers on Instagram. The engagement is 39.9K, and this is because I ensured that the content goes through those phases of design thinking to understand whether it’s helping the customer.

Anikesh Sasmal

Anikesh Sasmal

Senior Digital Product Owner @ MLC Life Insurance | Founder
As a Senior Product Owner at MLC Life Insurance, I apply the principles of design thinking to create customer-centric solutions that are desirable, viable, and feasible. I have over 6 years of experience in digital product management, working with banks and insurance companies like NAB, Suncorp, AIA, and MLC. I am passionate about solving human-centric design problems and transforming requirements into stories that create a journey for customers. I also have a background in media and entertainment, being the founder of DJ Antidope Music Productions and Melbourne's first YouTuber DJ. I enjoy public speaking, corporate social responsibility, community engagement, and storytelling.

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