Design thinking: what it is, how and why to use it

The term “design thinking” (from the English design-thinking) refers not just to a type of thinking, but also to a methodology for solving problems in various fields: education, business, and everyday life. This practice differs in that it is based not on an analytical, but on a creative approach to solving problems. The design thinking method can be used to develop any system: from building a promotion strategy to creating a customer service model.

What is design thinking

The word “design” in this term is used in the meaning: designing, constructing, creating something new. This method is used in the development of user-oriented products and involves non-standard problem solving.

The design thinking process is based on several principles:

  • the ability to put yourself in the place of the user, to understand what feelings and emotions he experiences – all innovations should ultimately be focused on people;
  • ability to cover problems both in general and in all details;
  • willingness to experiment, trial and error – do not be afraid to go beyond the boundaries of your own knowledge and abilities.

When creating products and services that are convenient and useful for the user, it is necessary to delve into the needs of those for whom they will be intended. This approach allows you to dive deep into the customer experience, ask the right questions, and help you solve problems that arise in your work in a creative, non-obvious way.

The methodology has proven itself well in creating digital products. Design thinking is often used in UX / UI design and development when creating the structure and interfaces of websites and various applications.

The application of design thinking in business helps to increase the number of loyal customers, as consumers receive a product that takes into account their interests as much as possible. This approach also develops creative thinking in teams.

In addition, design thinking can help speed up time-to-market for new products and reduce costs, as it involves research and experimentation to create successful and viable solutions.

Stages of design thinking

Design thinking has the following stages:

Let’s analyze the steps using the example of creating a website or application. 

Stage 1. Empathy

At this stage, you need to dive into user problems, explore their experience, understand their true feelings and motivations, identify their needs, look at the product through their eyes. The main goal is to collect enough data so that you can “feel in someone else’s shoes”, this will help to understand the problems of the consumer. To perform detailed research, the team should conduct in – depth interviews , observe user behavior and habits. You should also start collecting information from various open sources: social networks, the media, statistical reports.

Stage 2. Focus

The task of this stage is the processing and analysis of all the information received, its systematization and identification of the main problem of the client. Your goal is to formulate a specific question that will become the key for further work. It is convenient to use stickers or cards to mark important observations and visualize them.

Stage 3. Generation of ideas

At this stage, you should try to find as many different solutions to one question as possible. Any insights and the most unexpected answers are allowed here. The active group work of a team of diversified specialists gathered together resembles a brainstorming session. At this stage, do not criticize proposals and discard ideas. Once you’ve generated as many different ideas as possible, move on to the next step to select the most viable ones.

Stage 4. Idea selection

Now, from all the ideas collected, you should choose the one product idea that best meets the needs of the potential user, and fully concentrate on it. The team can vote for one single solution or combine several ideas into one.

Stage 5. Prototyping

When the decision is made, from improvised materials and with the help of simple tools, you need to create several prototypes of the site or application in order to check whether your ideas will work in practice, and to better understand how you can solve the problem in the most effective way. Don’t spend a lot of time and money on prototyping so that you don’t mind discarding an idea if it doesn’t work.

Stage 6. Testing

If the prototype works, the next step is to get feedback from the potential client. Give the prototype to the user and see how it interacts with the product. It is important to record comments here: what the consumer considers convenient, and what he does not like and for what reason. After studying the feedback from customers, you can refine your product based on the results of these reviews.


The design thinking technique, the idea of ​​which belongs to the American economist, political scientist and psychologist Herbert Simon, can be used almost everywhere. It is effective in product development, great for energizing the team and developing creative thinking. The use of design thinking allows you to solve complex or non-standard tasks, helps to deal with the fear of failure, and promotes entrepreneurship.

Many well-known companies successfully create human-centric products and services using design thinking. This method was used by the CIAN real estate search service. The company conducted a series of in-depth interviews to determine what users needed. VTB Bank, using design thinking, has built a consumer journey map, which details a typical client’s day and shows their needs. You can also cite X5 Retail Group as an example, which, using the design thinking methodology, designs new Pyaterochka and Perekrestok stores and re-equips existing ones for the convenience of people with disabilities.

Many foreign brands also use design thinking: Netflix, General Electric, Philips Lighting, IBM, Samsung, etc.

In addition, this method can be useful not only in business, but also in solving personal problems, for example, in organizing space in an apartment or planning a vacation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *