What is Design Thinking, and When is it Needed?

We tell you about a method that will help you find the real problem and solve it non-obvious.

To create user-friendly and valuable products and services, you need to understand the needs for whom they are intended. Design thinking can help you dive deep into the customer experience, ask the right questions, and solve problems creatively.

In this article, we’ll help you understand:

  • what design thinking is,
  • Why and who needs it,
  • What steps does it consist of?

And essay writer online free will also tell you what books on the subject are worth reading.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a method and a process of solving specific problems, which helps understand the user, think about his situation, and find alternative solutions. The correct translation of the word “design” in the term is to design, construct and create something new.

The most important thing in design thinking is that the needs and demands of the individual, not the state, organization, or managers from the customer’s side, are at the center.

Herbert Simon formulated the idea of design thinking in 1969 in his book Science of the Artificial. Scientists at Stanford University later developed it and founded the Stanford, a “place for researchers and experimenters” that popularized the approach.

In some companies, design thinking is becoming a paradigm and even an ideology, for example, at Google, where teams of researchers and developers use this method to develop and test new ideas.

Design thinking is based on three principles:

  • Empathy: the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, to understand their feelings and emotions;
  • the breadth of thinking: the ability to cover the problem as a whole and in every possible detail;
  • Experimentation: the willingness to try, make mistakes and try again.

Why design thinking

This method is suitable for creating human-centered products and services. It is used to overcome stereotypes and solve a problem out of the box.

Design thinking is often used in UX/UI design and development when creating structures and interfaces for sites and applications. But this method is not only suitable for digital products. It can be used in any area where you need to solve a specific problem of a particular user: from designing a business center to renovating a park zone, from improving the working conditions of couriers to organizing logistics for closed borders.

Design thinking works to the benefit of not only the end consumer but the business as well:

  • It helps grow loyal customers because they get a product tailored to their interests.
  • Stimulates a culture of innovation in the company because it fosters creative thinking in teams.
  • Speeds products to market and helps avoid waste because painstaking research and free experimentation create successful and viable solutions.

Stages of Design Thinking

The design thinking process goes through six stages, which can be divided into two phases:

  • Divergent (when information is gathered and different solutions are discovered);
  • Convergent (when they analyze the whole set of ideas and determine a solution).


This phase explores the user’s experience and the context in which he or she finds himself or herself, finds out his or her desires and motives and identifies requests. The goal is to gather enough information to “feel in someone else’s skin” and thus understand the consumer’s problems.

The team carries out in-depth interviews and observes the user’s world and habits for detailed research. They also use secondary observation: they collect information about the user and the environment in public sources (social networks, media, and statistical reports).


After “empathy,” researchers process all the information and isolate the user’s main problem. This step aims to formulate a specific question for further work.

It is vital to formulate key observations and frame them visually. For this purpose, they often use walls on which stickers with important findings are glued.

Idea Generation.

It is the stage of searching for multiple solutions to a single question. In generation mode, all kinds of insights and answers are allowed.

Active group work is similar to brainstorming. A team of specialists of different profiles should gather in one room to fruitfully generate any concepts. Ideas should not be criticized or discarded at this stage.

Selection of ideas.

You must choose one from all the ideas gathered and concentrate entirely on it. The team votes for one solution or combines several pictures into one.


When a decision has been made, the team begins to confirm or refute their hypotheses.

At this stage, prototypes are created from improvised materials and using simple tools to determine the idea’s viability. These prototypes should be cheap and fast so that the idea can be discarded if it does not work.


Finally, the “surviving” prototype receives feedback from the potential user. It is important to understand how successful the chosen solution is in facing reality.

The prototype is given to the user, and he or she is watched to see how he or she interacts with the product. And make sure to write down comments: what he finds convenient, what he doesn’t like, and why.

What to Read about Design Thinking

  • “Designing Everything” by Scott Berkun persuades that you should design products for consumers, not technology.
  • Jim Kalbach’s book “The Customer Path” teaches how to make diagrams and user experience maps.
  • Hal Gregersen’s “Questions are Answers” will help you find the correct problem statements to reveal successful solutions themselves.
  • “Design Thinking in Business” by Tim Brown will show how the method helps innovative yet effective ideas emerge in business.
  • Jeanne Lidtka and Tim Ogilvy’s “Design Thinking for Managers” works as a primer on creativity, not abstract creativity, but competent business management.

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