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How to drive a successful Salesforce implementation with design thinking

February 23, 2022By
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When undertaking a digital transformation, it’s easy to get lost in the technology, but design thinking lets experience lead technology. This methodology breaks down the delivery of service to focus on the needs of your users, then meets those needs through technology with a human-centered approach.

Design thinking can be incorporated into any digital experience, including your Salesforce transformation. It allows organizations to consider their end users’ experience from the onset, and let their experience inform their transformation. In addition to being beneficial for the end user, it’s also a smart investment A report released by Forrester found that mature design thinking practices can realize an average “ROI of 85%.”(Source Forrester Research, “The ROI of Design Thinking Part 2”, July 14, 2020).

Why human-centered design?

A human-centered design approach gives you the opportunity to try a lot of different solutions, get them in front of users, take a step back, make modifications, and then put them back in front of users. Conducting these steps typically leads to a solution that has considered all the ways your users will use the solution, resulting in a more efficient implementation.

Taking a human-centered approach to your transformation can help you:

  • Achieve an optimal user experience
  • Increase engagement
  • Reach the value promise of your technology investment

Delivering the right solution

Human-centered design starts with design thinking–an iterative approach that provides the ability to "fail fast" and determine the best options to deliver the right solution. Design thinking can be executed through different levels of fidelity, from sketch to low fidelity wireframes to high fidelity designs and prototypes. By involving organizations in the design of their solution, they can better understand their options for standard out of the box approaches, and what should be hybrid or custom. This process drives successful implementations by designing a solution that considers all aspects of a project’s end users.

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At Traction on Demand, our experience design team empowers our customers to utilize design thinking to unlock the potential of their implementation. The design thinking process follows six steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and implement. Here’s how our experience design team deployed the methodology during an Experience Cloud site redesign for a customer with a large and complex cloud platform that provides services to insurance carriers worldwide.


1. Empathize: conduct research to develop an understanding of your users.

This step is critical when dealing with digital transformations. If you don’t understand your end users’ needs, you’ll decrease the potential of a successful transformation.

During this phase, our experience design team worked closely with the client and analyzed the results of end-user surveys and interviews, which the organization had previously conducted. This built a better understanding of how their users were interacting within the existing site, and what pain points and challenges the solution would help overcome.

2. Define: combine research and identify challenges.

This phase is focused on defining core problems that have been uncovered in the empathize phase, and compiling all of your findings. It’s often considered the phase of clarity, as it gives your team the opportunity to consider what features, functions, and other specifications are critical to incorporate within your solution to help solve your current problems and challenges.

Our experience design team deployed this phase by combining findings from across all research activities. They created models of the client’s end-users and developed what an ideal customer experience would look like. This enabled the team to define who their end users were, and begin the process of building journey maps.

3. Ideate: generate a range of crazy, creative ideas.

The ideate phase is where the creativity of technology comes to life. It’s focused on generating ideas, and where your team can start to “think outside the box” and identify solutions to the problems uncovered during the define phase. Think of this phase as the transition from problem identification to solution creation.

To ensure the team was examining the problems the implementation needed to solve, they explored a variety of approaches with simple sketches, idea boards, and wireframes. This phase involved the team working closely with the client to narrow in on the best solution based on feasibility and value to the client’s end users.

4. Prototype: build real, tactical representations for a range of your ideas.

All successful implementations consider how, and who will be using the technology. The prototype phase takes all the ideas that were generated during the ideate phase and creates prototypes for the ones with the highest potential. Think of this as the experimental stage.


During this phase, the experience design team worked on building real prototypes for what their Experience Cloud site looked like, which included creating user and task flows. By the end of this phase, the team had a strong understanding of how the client’s users would interface with the new solution.


5. Test: return to your users for feedback.

Similar to a change management plan, ongoing feedback is a must to ensure your new technology meets the needs of your team and end users. This phase is closely intertwined with the prototype phase and gives you the opportunity to test your ideas, and either reject or accept them, then test again.

By doing this, you can truly see how end users will react to the UX and UI of the experience, and determine if there are any suggestions or enhancements to the overall navigation, flow, content hierarchy, and brand application before you fully implement it—which gives you the opportunity to pivot before you deploy the full implementation.

Testing the prototype with end-users allowed the design team to uncover areas of the solution that may cause confusion and challenge the assumptions that were made throughout the process. Ultimately, this allowed the team to iterate on the design armed with real feedback from the people who would actually be using the site.

6. Implement: put the vision into effect.

Otherwise known as a go-live, this phase is where you bring it all together. This is the phase where your solution becomes real.

Through this methodology, the experience design team was able to create a new solution with a completely redesigned homepage prominently featuring discussion groups and knowledge articles, along with direct links to key resources and common articles.

An onboarding flow introduces the site to new users and automatically adds them to groups and knowledge topics based on their interests. All of these configurations were established throughout the process by uncovering how the site wasn't serving its users, and what challenges the new site would need to combat. Based on that, the new site incorporated all aspects.


It’s no secret that digital transformations are a must to succeed in our digitally-driven world, and the design thinking methodology can help maximize the outcome of your efforts. People drive technology changes, and this methodology lays the foundation needed to bring a human-centric lens to your implementation.

Ready to unlock the potential of your Salesforce instance?

Get in touch with our experience design team, and we’ll help you get there.