What is design thinking and why do you need it?

design thinking

Surely you have heard ofdesign thinkingmore than once. It is a term that I myself heard several times without being able to define it, until, with time and some courses, I was able to learn about this methodology and its -many- applications.

If you want to know what it is and take advantage of the potential of this way of thinking in whatever area you work, keep reading. Here I tell you all aboutwhat design thinking isand why you need it.

What is design thinking

Designthinkingis a methodology for designing products, services or digital interfaces thatplaces the user at the center of attention. As the focus is on improving theuser experience (UX), problems that the user may encounter in their interaction with a brand are identified and creative solutions are proposed.

This concept gained relevance in the 1990s and since then has not stopped expanding. It involved moving from a paradigm focused on business needs to one focused on human demands. That is why it is also known ashuman-centered design. Different disciplines, such asUX designandUX writing, derive from this way of thinking.

Many companies implementdesign thinkingand even have departments or areas dedicated to this methodology. This is why products and services in general are increasingly designed to be friendly, intuitive, easy to use and simplify people’s lives.

Designthinkingshould preferably be carried out by aninterdisciplinary team, where exchanges can take place and ideas and solutions can be built together. It is also important that team members are motivated, innovative and creative people.

Applications of design thinking

Although in essencedesign thinkingis used for the creation of products, services or interfaces, the reality is that it is a logic applicable to innumerable situations. It consists ofanalyzing, looking for problems and proposing solutions, which is why it is a powerfultool for innovation and improvement of almost any processthat impacts a user.

The different possibilities of implementing this methodology are:

  • Start and create companies
  • Redesign business models
  • Optimize sales processes
  • Solve problems in a creative and innovative way
  • Design and develop products or services
  • Plan and create content in different formats

Everything starts fromknowing the userandoffering creative solutions to their problems. Furthermore, far from being a process with a beginning and an end, it can be restarted as needed to further improve solutions and make them more effective.

Fases del design thinking

Designthinkingis implemented through very defined stages. These follow a set order, but you can return to previous stages iteratively.

There are five phases of adesign thinking process:

1. Empathize

Since the goal is to achieve ahuman-centered design, it must start from a deep understanding of the user. It is key to know what their needs, demands and objectives are.

Empathy is a transversal axis to the whole process, therefore, those who carry it out must be, above all, empathetic people who know how to put themselves in the place of the other and understand it.

Designthinkingis guided by building auser archetypeoruser persona. It is a representation of the characteristics, motivations, objectives and behavior patterns in relation to a product or service. It is built from real and existing user data.

To collect the data, specific techniques are used, such as interviews, observation, surveys, focus groups, etc.

Once these data are obtained, they are systematized by grouping them into some categories such as:

  • Demographic profile(age, gender, marital status, nationality, education, occupation)
  • Behavioral profile(likes, interests, beliefs, goals, habits, personality)
  • Geographic profile(where do you live, study, work)
  • Technological profile(use of social networks and devices)
  • Expectations, motivations, desires and frustrationsin relation to the product/service

2. Identify problems

Once the needs and/or demands of theuser personasare known in detail ,the problem is defined. For this, the different findings must be analyzed.

The most common technique is “clustering”, which consists of pouring all the information collected into small pieces of paper or “post its” and grouping them together according to their relationship. Finally, find a phrase that synthesizes each of the groups as different problem-situations.

Given this, the designers will ask themselves: what can we do in the face of X situation?

It is important to bear in mind thatnot all the problems detected can be addressed, since not all of them have the same relevance or represent a market opportunity.

An accurate identification and classification of these problems is key to properly develop this methodology and obtain an optimal result.

3. Come up with solutions

This stage tests the creativity and innovation of the group. Here, based on the chosen problem, ideas are presented by way ofbrainstorming. In this instance anything goes no matter how crazy or unlikely it may seem, the goal is to collect as many ideas as possible. Then you can work on them until they become feasible.

A good space is required, blackboards, pencils, papers, tools, materials and any element that promotes ideation.

The key is that the whole team contributes its vision and that together they come to find a solution that opens up new business opportunities.

4. Create the prototype

From the selected idea, theprototyping of the solutionbegins , a manual design work where the first forms or sketches appear. The objective of this phase is to achieve a mock-up or prototype as close to the desired solution as possible.

This prototype will then be tested with the target audience, in order to assess whether it achieves the intended purposes or if it is necessary to rethink/adjust some aspects. The user will be able to express to what extent the designed solution fits their needs or desires.

Depending on the product or service in question, the prototype can be in virtual format (the interface of a website or application, for example) or physical (such as a mock-up or model).

Keep in mind thatdesign thinkingintegrates the so-called“agile methodologies”. These promote making decisions andacting quickly in order to fail quickly. In this way, learning is accelerated and the possibility of constantly making improvements.

5. Evaluation and testing

In this phase, the user tests the prototypeunder the supervision of the team of designers, who observe whether the user can meet their objectives and satisfy their needs with the presented model.

It’s important to understand that the point of this part is not to sell the idea or convince the other how great the solution is. It is a moment of testing and learning in which you have to be attentive to failures and thank the user for feedback to later design an improved version.

In general, at this timethereare no extreme cases, such as the prototype being an absolute success or a resounding failure. Normally, the proposal is functional and fulfills its objective, although with some points to improve. It is key to pay attention to those errors or failures, however small they may be.

Then, it goes back to the previous phases to continue improving the solution.

If the feedback or the experience is very negative, the questions should be asked: have you empathized enough with the target audience? Have the problems been correctly defined?

A design thinking process is never finished. The solution found and validated with the user can continue to be enriched in a new iteration.

Note:If you want to get more familiar with this process, I suggest taking aUX designcourse . It is a discipline on the rise and will surely add to your training, regardless of the industry you are in.


I hope that after this reading you have clear ideas when someone refers todesign thinkingand you can use this methodology in your daily tasks.

Remember that, beyond its formal application, we can use it to improve our brand’s communication with users, plan content for social networks or blog posts, even to add new services or identify business opportunities.

The key is to maintain fluid contact with users/customers, understand their needs and make our proposal the ideal solution that they want to continue using.

Do you want a good example ofdesign thinking? Think of those brands that never stand still, improving their interfaces, adding new features and you feel like they read your mind. That isdesign thinkingin action.

About Kushal Enugula

I’m a Digital marketing enthusiast with more than 6 years of experience in SEO. I’ve worked with various industries and helped them in achieving top ranking for their focused keywords. The proven results are through quality back-linking and on page factors.

View all posts by Kushal Enugula

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