The Concept of Design Thinking

Design thinking is said to be an iterative process that attempts to understand the users needs when designing a product. It is a human-centered approach that seeks to provide practical solutions to user’s problems. The cognitive and emotional feelings of the product consumers are put into consideration which leads to better products, services, and internal processes. This concept however cuts across all design domains such as architecture, engineering, literature, art, music and business.

Design thinking is a non-linear process that consists of five phases which include; empathy, define, ideate, prototype and test. As a designer, the first stage in designing any product is to identify or understand the thoughts process, feelings, objectives, and emotional state of the users through strategic research. This process involves observing and engaging the users to better understand them psychologically. The next phase defines their problems and needs. The designer then sets out to ideate by creating ideas for innovative solutions. This phase enables the designer to provide possible solutions to the needs of the target users. After this stage, the ideas are then sketched out, prototyped and tested to try out the concepts and ideas.

With design thinking, designers are able to come up with solutions that are viable economically and technologically feasible. In summary, these are the phases of design thinking;

Empathy — Identify the needs of the target users.

Define — Define the challenges and problems of the user.

Ideate — Brainstorm potential solutions to solve the needs of the users gathered from the first and second phase.

Prototype — Turn the ideas into tangible products.

Test — User testing is essential to design as it provides possible feedbacks on the functionality of the product.

Through the design thinking process, your goal as the designer is to design user-friendly products for your users of all class. This requires you to question and observe the users on how they carry out their daily activities. It helps to understand the mindsets and needs of the people you are creating for, surface opportunities based on these needs, and lead you to innovative new solutions starting with low-fidelity experiments that provide learning and gradually increase to high-fidelity design. In the process, you fit yourself in their shoes to get a clearer understanding of the challenges of the users. The challenges discovered influences your design decision.

A product designer who is enthusiastic about designing user-friendly products through strategic research