Design Thinking by Stanford’s

Design Thinking

A human-centered, prototype-driven process for innovation that can be applied to product, service, and business design.

Design Thinking is a simple framework to use while iterating through the product development lifecycle.

To illustrate how simple it is to use this framework for your next project, I’ll apply Standford’s design thinking approach to Meetr — an app I built as part of the CodePath Android bootcamp. I’ll also apply the concepts I learnt in my M.S. Software Management program at CMU Silicon Valley and at Product School.

The Problem

Planning an event with friends is a chaotic experience. There are usually several email threads and messages going back and forth to try and figure out where and when to meet. Everyone is spammed by emails and messages as they try to work out the logistics. There has to be a better way!

Let me apply design thinking approach to arrive at a solution to the problem above.


Understand the needs of the user by interviewing people that fit into your definition of the user for your product.

I like following Cindy Alvarez’s guidelines for asking open ended questions without influencing the user. The key takeaway from her post is that you shouldn’t say, “Hey, will you use my product?!”, but rather observe the user in their environment and see how they currently do things, what tools they currently use, what hurdles they encounter, what works and doesn’t work in their current process and what they wish they are able to do.

In addition to the interviews, let’s try and understand the needs of the user by taking a look at some real examples. Here is a Whatsapp thread of my friends trying to converge on a plan:

In this example, my friends have converged on a plan rather quickly. But it still goes through all the steps that would be present in a much larger conversation thread. Let’s reframe the problem:

  • The initiator proposes multiple option on whatto do. In this example, it was dinner or brunch.
  • Everyone goes back and forth to pick one.
  • The initiator presents multiple options forwhere to meet and then says says “pick 1 or suggest something else”.
  • Others pick all the locations that work for them.
  • Initator asks what time works for everyone.
  • Everyone goes back and forth on what works for them.
  • The initiator (her husband in this case) freezes the event details and makes reservations.
  • Everyone acknowledges it.

Below is an email thread of friends planning to catch up that reinforces all the points above.

These two conversations are typical examples of the key pain points I am looking to solve.

To sum up the Empathize step, I created a persona that attempts to capture everything I learnt about my user. I learnt how to create Personas at Product School and Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley’s Software Management Masters program. More here

Going forward, I can consult Julie’s persona and build my product to suit her needs.


We're now at a good point to capture the needs of the user, and also derive some insights based on what we just learnt:

  1. Event initiator needs to be able to propose multiple plans — this includes the what, where and when.
  2. Event initiator needs to be able to ask for new suggestions — of what to do, where and when to meet.
  3. Guests should be able to propose new plans.
  4. Guests should be able to accept all plans that work for them. Reject plans that don’t.
  5. Event initiator needs to be able to freeze the final event details. Send the final details to all guests and receive an acknowledgement from them.
  6. Express that you're running late/ have arrived etc.


The result of the ideation phase, after brainstorming several ideas, is Meetr, a mobile app that helps you make plans collaboratively.

Everyone owns the event, and can suggest within the app when and where to meet, upvote each others suggestions, and the most popular suggestion wins.

Meetr aims to take the chaos out of hanging out with friends.

The larger scope of Meetr:

Meetr is an app for planning, experiencing and re‐living events with friends.

Plan — Collaboratively converge on event details with friends. Nothing is set at first. All guests own the event and can suggest the plan, date, time and place. Anyone that joins the event late can check the event status to see when and where they have to be. Removes the need for scrolling through email threads to find the latest update. No need to leave Meetr for anything.

Experience — Check‐in when you arrive at the venue so that other guests know who’s already there and who’s fashionably late. Take photos and share it on the event page.

Re‐live — View all photos taken by friends at the event on the event timeline. No need to pester friends to get photos off their phone. Scroll through the timeline and re‐live the event on your taxi ride home!


To test out the idea, I built an interactive prototype. The wireframes were made using Balsamiq, and Invision was used to hook up the interactions between the wireframes.

Here is a link to my prototype on Invision —

Here are some screenshots of the overall flow:


I sent the interactive prototype created on Invision to my phone and asked my friends to create a new event and then converge on the event details.

Here is the feedback I got for my prototype:

  • Use “thumbs-up” sign or green check mark instead of up-vote arrow.
  • No need for down-voting. If an option does not work for someone, they can suggest an alternative anyway.
  • Allow guests to accept or suggest time, date and venue individually.
  • Set a finite time for the voting period after which the event details are frozen.
  • Allow event creator to present multiple options.
  • Allow invitees to suggest alternate event plans — the “what” of the event.

So there you have it, a very simple walkthrough of the design thinking approach to illustrate that it’s so simple to use and gives you a great framework for building your product.

Originally published at




This is where I write about products, product management, and sometimes about being a woman in tech.

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Medha Ghatikesh

Medha Ghatikesh

Product Manager @Groupon. Prev:@MyFitnessPal, Under Armour, Orion Health. Edu: CMU, University of Auckland. Born: 🇮🇳 Raised: 🇳🇿 Living: 🇺🇸

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