Understanding the fundamentals of Design Thinking

If you are new to product design and you want to understand the subject or you’re just curious, this short summary is for you.

Design thinking is a human approach to designing products and services for users. It's a process and an ideology that helps the designer to make sure that the needs of the users are met satisfactorily by that product or service.

Design thinking has been around for a long time but the term is usually attributed to David Kelley and Tim brown of IDEO in the 1990s with Roger Martin.

The essence of design thinking is to make sure that the product or service is:

  • Desirable for the user: it should meet a real human need
  • Technologically feasible: can be developed into functional products and services
  • Economically viable: the business can afford its implementation

Stages of design thinking


Design thinking starts with understanding the target users of the product. User research and analysis is usually carried out and empathy maps are drawn up to get an in-depth understanding of the user.


At this point the data obtained from the user research is used to define and understand what the problem is that needs solving. You pinpoint the needs and pain points of the users and come up with solutions/innovations. This is the stage where you come up with a problem statement and draw up user personas that help you understand your users better.


This is the process of brainstorming, and creatively coming up with solutions to the needs that has been defined.


In this stage you create representations of the solutions into actual products that help to understand what would work or not.


This is the stage where the prototype is presented to actual users who try the features in a controlled environment. We test for effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction.


It is important to note that the design thinking process is highly iterative and as such you always need to go back to make adjustments to the design when necessary.

After the adjustments have been made, the prototypes are then ready for implementation into real functioning products.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to getting your opinion.

Product Designer