five stages of design thinking


Design thinking is a methodology focused on providing a solution-based approach to overcome problems. It is the best approach to overcome unknown, undefined or unanticipated problems. This specific method relies on the human ability to understand different patterns and develop emotionally appealing ideas which are meaningful and at the same time highly functional. This is a unique process and in order to implement it in the right way it is essential to partner with a web application development company.

An iterative approach, design thinking is all about using different options and adapting to meet different needs. Considered as repeatable process to solve problems and identify new opportunities, design thinking can be used for different type of solution in order to align people’s needs to technical options and business needs.

While it is widely used by product designers, this human-centered approach to innovation is not limited to the creation of things. It follows process such as deciphering human needs, analyzing problems in human centric manner, brainstorming ideas, and taking heads-on approach to prototyping and testing. Design thinking forms an important part of the web design and development process. Hire Web developers and designers to explore this phenomenon and ensure that this approach aligns with your users interests.

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Design Thinking: Definition

“Design thinking” can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”

Difference between Human-Centered Design and Design Thinking

If you are going in circles and trying to figure out the core difference between Human-Centered Design and Design Thinking approaches, here is quick answer. The aura and scope of design thinking is much wider compared to human-centered design. Design thinking is all about breakthrough innovation, as well as about developing new products, services and solutions for problems.

The IDEO style “Design Thinking” refers to cognitive, strategic and practical processes, with the final goal of which is to come up with innovative problems solving and the solutions to address a problem or meet a customer need. It is often applied to areas which are not traditionally defined as requiring design.

Design Thinking is largely not used by most companies or implemented in a haphazard manner, and most designers are not exclusively trained.

While the human centered design is all about improving usability and user experience of products or services. It is used to describe the process of designing for people and developing solutions involving human perspective. So in a nutshell, it is all about human centric designers and most UI/UX designers identify with HCD.

  • Both methodologies are apt to handle the complex phases at the beginning of the innovation process, where uncertainty rules.
  • User-centered with heavy focus on empathizing with users.
  • Both utilize creative and analytical thinking during the entire process in thinking and designing.
  • Multidisciplinary teams with the ability to make people collaborate in order to maximize, support and draw from different expertise.

Understanding these five different stages of Design Thinking will empower users to apply Design Thinking methods to solve complex problems.

1. Empathise

This is the first stage of design thinking aimed at understanding needs, requirements and objectives. Everything starts with observing and engaging with people to understand in order to build a connection at a psychological and emotional level. This stage involves setting aside assumptions and gathering actual preferences/or actionable insights about users.

2. Define

The second stage in the Design Thinking process is all about defining the actual problem. In this phase, all the information is gathered from the findings in the empathy stage and making sense.

  • What difficulties and bottlenecks are users coming up against?
  • Any specific patterns observed?
  • What is the big user problem that needs to be solved?

End of the define phase will help you to build a clear problem statement in a user-centered way. Once you’ve devised the problem into words, you can come up with solutions and ideas — which brings us to the next stage.

3. Ideate

With solid research of user needs and problem statement, it is about time to begin with Design Thinking process working on potential solutions. This is the phase revolving around creativity and ideation. This stage will be about designers holding ideation session, exploring new ideas, and brainstorming. The end of this phase will help you come up with strong ideas to embark upon further.

4. Prototype

This is phase where we can get experimental and transform ideas into products. Prototyping phase is developing a mini version of the product which also uses solutions identified in previous stages. This step is all about validating solutions identified, highlight any limitations or obstacles. Throughout the stage of prototyping, the proposed solutions may be established, enhanced, revamped or rejected depending on how they work in prototype form.

5. Test

After the stage of prototyping comes rigorous testing, but it’s worth noting that this is not the end of the Design Thinking process. In reality, the results of the testing phase will often push you back to introspect the steps crossed before, providing actionable insights to redefine the original problem statement or to come up with new ideas you hadn’t crossed your mind before.

Iterative and Non-linear Process

Design Thinking is an iterative process. It is all about constantly questioning the known to help define a problem as well as identify suitable alternative strategies that might not be visible based on basic level of understanding. With this outside of box thinking, designers are attempting to develop new ways of thinking that defies challenges which are geared towards problem-solving methods.


Design Thinking process is iterative process offering flexibility and focused on collaboration between designers and users, with an emphasis on putting life into ideas based on how real users think, react and behave.

written by for Design, Web Development section(s).