How to use the Creative Design Thinking Process for innovation?


What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is an iterative, non-linear process that designers use to devise innovative solutions to their problems. It is a very effective way to deal with ill-defined or unknown issues.

Not only designers but also great innovators in music, art, engineering, and business have used design thinking to apply human-centered techniques to solve problems in our lives. 

Apple, Google and Samsung, and many other leading brands have promptly adopted the Design Thinking approach. The reason is that Design Thinking helps designers redefine problems using an iterative process and find a durable solution to that problem.

Design thinking is based on understanding the people for whom we’re designing the products. It results in developing empathy with the target user. It results in questioning the assumptions, questioning the problems, and the implications. So, it is conducive to tackle ill-defined issues by redefining the problem in human-centric ways.

The human-centered approach focuses on the users’ needs they are creating for, resulting in better products, services, and internal processes. In other words, it makes you consider what is desirable from a human point of view and what is useful technologically and economically. It tackles problems from a new direction.

Importance of the Design Thinking Process:

We can understand the importance of design thinking because it is quickly becoming the go-to approach for many industries, including e-learning, because of the variety of benefits linked with it both for the designers and users. It provides practical solutions to common challenges and ensures that the final product achieves maximum results.

What are some of the benefits you can expect to have while adopting a Design Thinking approach?

 Let us take an overview of some of the benefits

1It allows you to view an issue from a different angle.

Design thinking changes your design perspective. Instead of concentrating on the authoring Design Collaboration Tools and management systems, you can focus on the needs of your learners. That requires you to put yourself in the place of your learners to understand the issue and how you can solve that problem. This is a significant change from many other design approaches, usually centered on conveying the information rather than what you want to achieve. 

2. Allows you to delve deep into a problem to determine its root cause.

One of the essential benefits of design thinking is that it helps you get to the heart of the matter. Instead of relying upon the assumptions that clients may have regarding learners’ needs, eLearning professionals get the opportunity to get to the trouble for themselves.  

3Encourages innovative thinking and creative problem-solving skills

Design thinking allows you to use your creativity to find the solution to the problems you face in your professional or personal life. The process includes brainstorming and devising new ideas that can help to solve a critical situation. With a design thinking approach, you can work with other team members to get their feedback to create a complete experience for your customers. Even if the solutions you come up with don’t end up in the finished deliverable product, you could still use your creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, which will help you become an even better professional.

4. In addition to the above, we can say is that it ensures that the final product meets the requirements and needs of the client.

Prototyping in Design thinking ensures that the final product you intend to launch undergoes numerous rounds of testing and feedback, thus making this approach more likely to meet the client’s expectations.  

This is because they are inclined towards the development and design processes. Instead of ending up with a product that misses the mark, you have an approach that meets the learning goals it has been made.

5. Results in a more effective product

A product designed with a clear focus on the objectives and outcome of your learners proves very effective. It means that you keep a close eye on how every element of your product will achieve the goals for your customers in the long run. 

6. Enables you to enhance your knowledge and learning

Design thinking involves a great deal of feedback, so you continue to measure the results even after the product is launched. 

Furthermore, it helps you improve your understanding of your target audience and learn about your product in general. 

You will know which tools and improvements you may want to use on your next project and find out the loopholes or weak spots in your strategy using the feedback data you gather from your customers. 

UX Design Thinking Process

User experience (UX) design is the process designers use to develop products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. 

This involves creating the entire acquisition process and integrating the development, including branding, design, usability, and function. 

It is different from design thinking in that it incorporates many elements of the design process. In contrast, design thinking mainly aims at conceptualization and research activities in the earlier phases of UX Design.

What are the five stages in the design thinking process?

Let us take a look at each stage step by step.

What is the first stage in the design thinking process?

1) Empathize

Empathy involves an understanding of the users through user research. It enables you to set aside your thinking or assumptions and gain real insight into users’ needs.

This stage includes observation and engagement and empathizing with your customers. It will enable you to understand their experiences and develop a deeper understanding of the process’s issues, challenges, and requirements. 

Astute observation is required for this purpose that means looking for the odds in the situation. 

You can do it by noticing what the actual circumstances are and how they are happening. 

What are the prerequisites for a clever observation?

The following are the three prerequisites for a clever observation:

1. It should be unbiased and free from pre-existing ideas or scripts of the situation.

2. Observers should learn inductively, making inferences from the limited information that they have.

3. They must find patterns in complex stimuli.

Empathize Methods

These are some of the favorites Empathize methods:

  • Discard the previous assumptions about the product
  • Ask wh-questions
  • create journey maps
  • Conduct interviews with empathy
  • use analogies to build empathy
  • Use personal photo and video journals
  • Engage with extreme users
  • Story share-and-capture
  • Brainstorming
  • Many leaders consider that empathy is crucial for the success of a business as three key parameters that define a successful product are desirability, feasibility, and viability.

Related Readings: Essential Things You Must Know About Industrial Designing!

What is the second stage in the design thinking process? 

 2) Define 

It involves analyzing the information gathered during the Empathize stage, enabling you to define the core problems. You can create personas to remain human-centered during this step.

What is the third stage in the design thinking process? 

3) Ideate

It involves generating ideas based on the knowledge gained through previous steps and needs you to think out of the box, look for as many ideas as possible to view the issue, and generate many solutions with the brainstorming approach. 

Creating a persona helps in the Design Thinking Process. 

Personas are fictional characters to represent different users that might use your product, brand, or service, and these are usually created based on your research.

Such personas are an essential part of the UX thinking process because they enable you to understand your users’ needs, behavior, goals, and experiences. 

They also help you step out of yourself and make you know that every person is different from another with their own needs, taste, and expectations.

So, they reduce the complexity of the task at hand and guide you during ideation processes. You can base your personas on the data collected from real people to make them realistic and add a human touch to them. 

Likewise, it can also assist you in formulating the right questions with the users you are designing for because they provide meaningful archetypes to assess your design development.

The personas provide a guide during ideation sessions such as Brainstorm, Worst Possible Idea, and SCAMPER.

What are some of the Personas in the Design Thinking Process?

Your personas can take four perspectives to ensure that they add the most value to your design project.

Goal-directed Personas examine the process and workflow that your user would prefer to use to achieve their goals. In other words, they focus on what my typical user wants to do with my product.

Role-Based Personas not only focus on goals but also on the behavior of the users, which encompass data from both qualitative and quantitative sources.

Engaging Personas create a vivid and realistic description of fictitious people to involve yourself in the persona’s life actively. 

Such personas incorporate goals, behavior, and traditionally rounded personas to bring them closer to reality.

Fictional Personas emerge from the experience of the UX design team rather than from user research, and assumptions are made based on past interactions with the users. 

You can use them as an initial picture of user needs.

What is the fourth stage in the design thinking process?

4) Prototype

It involves selecting the best possible ideas to solve the problem and the production of some inexpensive versions of the product, if possible, to investigate the ideas you’ve created. 

Prototypes are useful for 

Exploring and Experimentation and help you explore problems, ideas, and opportunities within a specific area and test the effect of changes.

Learning and Understanding the dynamics of a product or system and picking out what makes them work or fail.

Engaging, testing, and experience in ways that reveal deeper insight to make the decision-making process progress.

It is inspiring and motivating for stakeholders or markets toward new ways of thinking and doing.

What kind of prototypes should be built in the design thinking process?

A prototype can be of low Fidelity, Medium fidelity, and High fidelity depending on its cost and degree of completeness and detail. We can summarize it as follows

  1. Low fidelity 

Rough and quick to build and needs low cost

  1. Medium fidelity  

A little more detailed yet near the final product

  1. High fidelity 

Much closer to the final product, much more time-consuming, and with much more details

The Prototype selection also depends on which part of the process you want to test. For example, if you are more focused on visual aspects of your project, build a prototype with high visual fidelity but with low functional commitment. 

The element of main concern should receive more focus and, ideally, higher fidelity while building a prototype.

Low-Fidelity Prototypes

An example of low-fidelity prototypes is paper interfaces.

These are used to test rapidly and cheaply and explore a wide range of options to figure out the best possible ways of putting your ideas. You can use them to test out and rapidly present ideas in tangible form.

Medium-Fidelity Prototypes

Use them to give people a better sense of the solution and have already tested some early assumptions. These are good for refining the execution of solutions while still providing room for changing direction and analyzing options.

High-Fidelity Prototypes

An example of High-fidelity prototypes is mock-ups produced in the application Sketch. These show a high level of detail and represent the final product closely.

These prototypes are used to test the full spectrum of dynamics of the final solution and test it for visual, functional, and experience purposes. You will get a more realistic picture of the end product and allow for final-stage refinements and experience tests. High-fidelity prototypes are excellent for finalizing ideas when funding decisions need to be made or when potential markets are being approached for feedback.

Design Thinking Process and methods manual

Companies nowadays are demanding designers to design more human-centered products and focus on human needs and requirements. Let us look at its implementation in the agricultural sector. 

Agriculture is the backbone of many nations, and cash crops planted with high dollar value need regular monitoring to prevent damage caused by wild animal or forest fires attack or getting stolen. It is necessary for a better return on investment. 

One or more security personnel must monitor all daily activities and inform the loss of vegetative produce to the Police Station or Forest department. The loss of production cannot be pointed towards a group, individual, or wild animals without prior evidence like a snapshot or video recording for further process. 

Agriculturists need an application that integrates technology to resolve this issue for this purpose.

Designers in the past focused on making the products aesthetically attractive and tried to enhance brand perception through evocative advertising. 

The design thinking process focuses on making the product human-centered and meeting the actual demand of the farmers and agriculturists rather than focusing on the product’s aesthetic value.

It combines an end-user focus with multidisciplinary collaboration to get an innovative product that promotes learning through a problem-solving approach focusing on people’s needs.

What is the final or fifth stage in the Design Thinking process? 

5) Test or Try Your Solutions Out

It involves rigorous testing of the prototypes. 

The results of the final stage are used to iterate or redefine one or more problems. It makes you find or rule out alternative solutions. 


The five phases of Design Thinking are not always sequential. They often occur in parallel and do not have to follow any specific order, and you can repeat them iteratively. These are more like different modes that contribute to a project rather than sequential steps.

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