What is Design Thinking?

Today’s consumers can access the global market place with the click of a button. A world where physical products and services constantly compete for attention. Companies face the challenge of how to get their products or services to stand out from their competition in such a jam-packed market place.

The tenets of adopting a design driven culture means that you put the customer first, delivering measurable results with a competitive advantage. The key principle of design thinking is human-centered design where empathy and understanding how your customers interact with your product and service and how to alter this to deliver a better experience is the challenge.


Idea - design thinking

The following 5 steps are the framework of design thinking as outlined by Tim Brown from IDEO.



Design-thinking process
“Design thinking is about accelerating innovation to create better solutions to the challenges facing business and society. It starts with people – what we call human centred design – and applies the creative tools of designs, like storytelling, prototyping and experimentation to deliver new breakthrough innovation.”

Tim Brown IDEO


Understanding the context of your client’s problems. Empathising involves understanding the audiences beliefs, needs, values and challenges. You can do this by listening, watching and engaging with your customers and the world around you.

Empathise design thinking
define design thinking

Define: Establishing a Point of View

Process what you have learned from your audience. Define the challenge you have been given, by finding insights, connections and patterns which will help you move towards the solution. The ‘Point of View’ sums up insights and clarifies the needs of the audience.


Ideation is when you combine your understanding of the problem with your imagination. Start using trusted techniques such as mind-mapping and sketching to build rough ideas that can help to solve your issue. Generating lots of ideas to maximise your innovation potential.

Ideate design thinking
Prototype design thinking


The Ideate stage can produce multiple solutions. Putting the best Prototypes forward for testing is the main goal. Prototyping can take many forms, it can be a wall of post-it notes as Stanford’s d.school suggest or storyboarding or creating a physical or digital item ready for testing.



Testing or the ‘Execute’ phase helps you understand what works and what doesn’t. Leading you to find solutions and more about your audience. Prototypes that succeed give positive results, alternatively you may find that if the prototype fails you will need to redefine the problem or go back and listen to the audience again. Testing will help you develop improved and/or advanced prototypes.

test design thinking

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