What is the design thinking process in UX design and why is it important?

design thinking process
Written By Editor
Designing & Creativity | 5 Min Read

Design Thinking has been around since 1969 and is still prevailing. It is an iterative thinking process used by UX designers to solve vast and complex problems. Design thinking is the framework for designers to come up with new ideas and provide original solutions through UX designs. It is particularly user-centric, so as to keep the consumers at the center of the design and development process.

Design thinking is important to adapt to dynamics in the user’s environment and behavior, so as to provide an apt solution to them. Astonishingly, people have been using this methodology to find original and innovative solutions to problems, while pushing the boundaries of creativity.

Every few years, a designer with ‘out of the box’ thinking develops a new design process and system, which naturally prevails. The adoption of the design thinking process shares a common desire, i.e. user satisfaction. So whatever the process adopted and applied, the result should lead to the achievement of that common desire.

UX designers tend to think and mimic the users. They gather information, validate designs, and understand what people want, what they need, how much they need, and when or why they act the way they do. Whichever path you follow, the chief aim is people’s delight. So whatever design thinking method you prefer, people are the focus.

The Design Thinking Process

design thinking process

The Design Thinking process follows five distinct stages:

Empathize with your Users

Empathy is a valuable life skill to possess that will serve you well in the workplace and everywhere. Even if you think you are an empathetic person and your work is user-centered, this might not always be the case. Sometimes it becomes difficult to relate to and connect with others, and in the process, your designs lose the touch of empathy in them. So how can you ensure this doesn’t happen?

The first step involves getting to know your users and not just target clients. Besides, this step is more about getting to know your users. Designers must follow their desires, needs, and emotions.

Define the Problem

Once you have a strong understanding and knowledge of the people you are designing for, now it’s time to address their needs and problems. During this process, you need to combine and stimulate all insights derived from interviews and conversations. It can help you to create a real problem statement, which then leads to a solution.

This stage is about breaking down complexities into easier and understandable concepts. The solution hence derived, should be user-centered and should have some real meaning to it. Indulge your creativity and new ideas to address the problem.

Brainstorming

Based on all the prior research and assumptions, generate and implement the potential solution. Your solution should reflect your idea as a replica of the user’s needs.

At this stage, generate as many ideas as possible. Back up your original idea and cultivate better solutions for it. This will help you create an innovative solution for the problem and the dearest way to address the problem. Your solution should reflect in your design work. Design thinking is not just about extracting and producing new ideas, it is also about providing solutions to the existing ideas and related problems.

Develop Prototype

At this stage, you bring ideas to life. This is an exciting stage since you’ll begin designing potential solutions that you’ll test with consumers later. It’s crucial to remember that you’re not yet creating a finished product.

Prototypes are built so that the designers can think differently and apply different approaches to the solution. Test and repeat, until you are satisfied with your design. A prototype will prevent the useless and needless waste of your time and resources. Start with a low-redefine prototype and move to high-fidelity to test and analyze the design.

Testing

At this stage, redefine the problem or recreate a solution, it’s all about testing and analyzing. During the testing process, you can gain a better understanding of your designs. It is crucial to get feedback. This offers an opportunity to directly interact with clients or users with the help of the prototype.

Observe their reactions and detect issues. Testing may confirm the usability of your design, with the help of constructive feedback from users.

Why do UX designers need to use Design Thinking?

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Design thinking focuses on finding user-centric solutions and UX design is concerned with implementing these solutions into designs to make them more usable, accessible, and pleasant for the user. You may think of Design Thinking as a toolkit for UX designers. It is one of the many critical approaches that UX designers employ to create amazing user experiences. Here’s why UX designers should use Design Thinking.

  • It helps UX designers solve problems efficiently 

Design thinking can help in finding the desires of the users and clients. Use a human-centric approach to find what they need. The users may not be aware of the problem in the first place. By using an analytical approach to finding problems, you can easily provide a solution. Design thinking can provide a method to solve the identified problems.

  • Leads to more Innovative Design Solutions 

Humans cannot demand things that they don’t even know exist or can happen. Only the things that reach their imaginations and are not available to them can become a need. Design thinking can actually help in surfacing such needs and bringing out the solution that users didn’t even know existed. UX design teams define a problem and then resurface it to find the loopholes or to bring out the perfect solution for it.

This is the work of innovation and creativity, subtly grouped with a solution. Using a distinctive and different approach to problems may bring a non-obvious or innovative solution.

  • Generates Originality in Ideas 

A common problem is often reintroduced and every time a new solution is laid down for it. Oftentimes, these solutions overlap or contradict one another. Hence, design thinking helps in bringing out original ideas and solutions even if it is for pre-existing problems. It can help you evaluate and measure all the solutions and bring out the best for the users from them.

An original idea should not be ambiguous. It should have a clear and elaborative definition and is easy to understand. Then only it can stand out from the rest, and simply by being innovative.

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Conclusion

The design thinking process is like a map that UX designers can refer to when they need directions in their workflow. It should not be regarded as a step-by-step guide, as that would require a straight line with tasks to be completed in a precise order.

The design thinking process isn’t linear, but designers must follow. It gives designers the freedom to develop their concepts, gather information, validate their ideas, and see it all in motion.

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