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What is Design Thinking ? : Benefits and Special Features | A Definitive Guide with Best Practices

Last updated on 04th Nov 2022, Artciles, Blog

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Anu Evanjiline (Mobile Application Developer )

Anu Evanjiline has extensive experience with MVP, MVVM, MVC, Rest API, Java, Android, iOS, B2C apps, fix bugs over a period of 5 years.Her articles assist in sharing information and abilities in core fields and provide students with informative knowledge

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    • In this article you will learn:
    • 1.A Brief History of Design Thinking.
    • 2.Design Thinking Phases .
    • 3.Conclusion.

A Brief History of Design Thinking:

Design Thinking, originally referred to as a Design Science, as a discipline began to take a shape in 1960s with focus on architecture and engineering. Solving problems in an industrial design lead to the application of a scientific method to traditional design thinking principles. Buckminster Fuller aimed at creating “design science revolution” incorporating rational thought with the science and technology to solve a problems created by rapid advancement of technology.Fuller wanted to ignite the revolution with a Design Science and released of World Design Science Decade in 1961. However, it wouldn’t be until 1969 that this was a further expanded by Herbert Simon in The Sciences of the Artificial. Simon added a new considerations and parameters to the design a theory and proposed the idea that anything designed was an artificial rather than natural. This idea would later have a significant impacts on a design theory and Artificial Intelligence.From there, an idea of Design Science continued to build and expand shifting from an intellectual theory to actual practice and application. In 1973, Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber first used a term Wicked Problems, translating a Fuller’s idea of Design Science into the focus on design and the human experience. Rittel coined term “wicked problem” to encompass complexity of problems encountered during planning. These problems are almost undefinable as well as an unsolvable like poverty and education.

May be wondering what “wicked problems” has to do with a Design Thinking. This theory introduced a phenomenology to the mix, further focusing on an experience of the end user. This focus on a experience leads to the development of what we know as a Design Thinking today. Richard Buchanan published Wicked Problems in a Design Thinking in 1992, combining theories begat by a Fuller, Simon, and Rittle into one cohesive theory. This article is seen by more as a cornerstone of the Design Thinking field. Through his philosophy, schools like Carnegie Mellon began to teach service design including this as key element to scale and build technology, business and more.Design Thinking took a world by storm in the 1990s due to the rise of Dot-Com business boom. Businesses who successfully integrated the user experience and Design Thinking into their companies were able to “scale up” according to the Buchanan’s theory and adapt to a changing market. As user experience morphed from the afterthought to the forefront of a modern business, Design Thinking became an essential part of an equation.

Design Thinking Phases:

While stages or phases of a Design Thinking can vary depending on a school of thought followed, there are five distinct phases core to almost every iteration. It’s important to note that are while these phases below are in order, Design Thinking is not linear process. Teams continually use these phases to a review, question and enhance their product to the further understand the needs of a user and improve the user experience.

Design Thinking

Phase 1: Empathize

  • The first step in solving any issues is to understand the problem. In a Design Thinking, this understanding needs empathy which is gained from observing and engaging.
  • By empathizing with concern, gain a deeper understanding of the motivation and experiences of users.
  • This allows those practicing a Design Thinking to set aside personal bias and assumptions to more fully understand needs of users.
  • This phase of a Design Thinking requires gathering substantial amount of information from a users that will continue throughout process.
  • During the iteration, this phase can be visited the multiple times in order to redefine a problems and concerns encountered by end user.

Phase 2: Define

  • Once have insights, need to use them to explain the difficulties your customers face and decide which problems to a prioritize. A popular way of the problem statement is using a Ishikawa fishbone diagram .
  • Frame a problem in a way that is user-centered For example if realize a customers wait in line for too long to get their airline ticket can state problem in this way customers require a system for faster check-in, as opposed to need to ensure a lines move faster during check-in.
  • This way automatically start to look at a problem from the customer’s point of view as opposed to yours.

Phase 3: Ideate

Once have a problem statement it’s time to start coming up with a potential solutions. Ideating is important because it allows a designers to come up with an optimal solution rather than use a first path that comes to mind to resolve a problem.This stage needs creativity and to think up as more solutions as possible. Some characteristics of an ideation phase include:

Postpone judgment: Generate as more broad ideas as possible without an evaluating or judging any of them.

Documentation of an ideas: When team members look at a visual ideas on a whiteboard, for instance, their brains will begin to fire in various ways and generate more ideas. Documentation is also for the memory.

Collaboration: This not only ensures a buy-in but also guarantees that ideas will be varied and drawn from a different styles of thinking.Some creative methods used for an ideation include mind mapping, analogies, reverse thinking, brainstorming and role-playing. Once have an exhausted all ideas, narrow down to a most preferred options.

Phase 4: Prototyping

  • The process of a turning ideas into tangible solutions and products is known as a prototyping. This stage involves an experimentation where the identified solution is tested, constraints are identified and flaws corrected. Depending on how prototype fares, a solution may be improved on, redesigned, accepted or rejected.
Design Thinking Phases

Phase 5: Test

  • This stage involves a testing the prototypes on end users. Once get results of a test, may need to go back to a previous stages. This cycle may carry on until final solution is acceptable to the consumers.
  • The design thinking phases can outlined above are non-linear.
  • The processes loop back and forth and also around. Every time discover something new, and may need to go back to earlier phases and redefine again. Rarely will this process move in the set order.


The concept of an iteration is hence central to the process of a design thinking. Design thinking not only helps to come up with an innovative solutions, but also helps to address a exact problems faced by the customer and target customer’s requirements in best possible manner.

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