The definition of the word design is very broad and might a bit confusing. There is Product design, Industrial design, Design systems, Graphic design, User experience design… and on top of many others there is Design thinking.

Design Thinking definition

Design thinking is the methodology that is used to solve complex problems and it is a way of using systemic reasoning and intuition to explore ideal future states.

Design thinking, brings together three essential areas – what is desirable with what is technologically feasible and economically viable.

Design Thinking approaches problems from a human perspective, with the objective of designing innovative and desirable products, services or experiences that reflect all three aspects.
  • Technical Feasibility – What is functionally possible within the foreseeable future?
  • Economic Viability – What is likely to become part of a sustainable business model?
  • Human Desirability – What makes sense to people and for people?

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
— Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO

Design Thinking Process

The Design Thinking process is based on the workflow process of five phases.

Design Thinking process - Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test
Design Thinking Process
The diagram above shows five components of design

Design Thinking Stages

Empathise step

Empathy is the foundation of Design Thinking. Build empathy for your users’ needs and problems by learning their values.

  • Interviews
  • Shadowing
  • Seek to understand
  • Non-judgemental

Define step

Transform your empathy findings into needs and insights and form a meaningful challenge.

Ideate step

Explore a wide range of solutions, large quantity and broad diversity of ideas.

Prototype step

Transform your ideas into tangible prototypes. Keep prototypes inexpensive and low-fidelity to learn quickly and explore multiple possibilities.

  • Mockups
  • Storyboards
  • Keep it simple
  • Fail fast
  • Iterate quickly

Test step

Iteratively test to gather feedback quickly, refine solutions, and learn more about your users.

  • Understand impediments
  • What works?
  • Role play
  • Iterate quickly

Design thinking is about getting to the root of a problem,
rather than just treating some of the symptoms.

Prof. Hasso Plattner, Co-creator of Design Thinking


Design Thinking was developed by David Kelley, Stanford professor and founder of the renowned design agency IDEO in Silicon Valley, and is strongly influenced by Professors Terry Winograd and Larry Leifer at the at Stanford University.

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