What is design thinking?
If you’re new to the world of UX design, you’ve probably already heard something about design thinking. Understanding and practicing design thinking in your day-to-day work is foundational to truly excellent design work (and the resulting successful design career).
But what is design thinking exactly and how do you…do it? Here’s a quick answer.
Design thinking is:
- An ideology that embraces a human-centered approach to designing products and experiences.
- An iterative and recursive process that guides designers of all kinds as they seek to create products and experiences that are effective, efficient, inclusive, and even delightful for people to engage with.
As an ideology, design thinking encourages you to solve problems in creative ways. You think like a designer when you face problems that, on first glance, might now seem like a design problem.
It’s important to note that design thinking and user-centered are two different things—and it’s worth understanding the difference. Learn more about that here: Design Thinking vs. User-Centered Design: What’s the difference?
As a process, design thinking helps you solve problems creatively by following these five basic stages (which often follow this order, but can often jump around a bit—depending on the situation):
- Empathize. Talk to real people about the real problems and goals they have related to your product. Understand who they are, where they are, what they’re feeling, and what they need.
- Define. Based on that research, you define the design problems that you will solve throughout the rest of the design process.
- Ideate. Come up with ideas for how you might solve those design problems. A design thinking workshop is a good thing to have right about here.
- Prototype. Build some test versions of your design solution to see how they’ll work.
- Test. Try those design solutions out with actual users to make sure the solutions you’ve designed actually solve the problems you identified earlier in the process.
If your solutions work for your users, great! Get your plans off to the development team. If not, then iterate—go back into the process wherever and as many times as you need to!
Camren Micheal Browne
UX Designer and Tutor
Camren Michael Browne is a designer, writer, and father. He quit his job six years ago to become a digital nomad after the birth of his daughter, who has been to six countries before the age of six months. Camren’s passion resides in helping people achieve their greatest state of being, as well as achieving his own.