Getting started

What is design thinking?

Ludovic Delmas
October 14, 2020

Design thinking is a human-centered, iterative, creative, problem-solving process. It helps teams manufacture innovation. It keeps people at the center of the process with the hope to create products that actually meet user needs and goals. 

Design thinking is not the sole property of UXers. It’s been widely used across industries for decades.

As described by IDEO, one of the leaders in design thinking, “This approach, which is known as design thinking, brings together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. It also allows people who aren’t trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges.” 


Design thinking consists of five phases. 

Empathize

This is where you learn about user problems, needs, and goals. You’re looking to gain empathy for the user and the problem they’re experiencing. Empathy is at the center of design thinking and UX as a whole because it helps you look at the problem from the user’s perspective and not your own. 

Define

After learning all about the problem during the empathize phase, you analyze the data collected and define the problem. Here, you create things like affinity maps and personas to guide you through the rest of the design process. The goal is to build a strong foundation for your ideas. 

Ideate

Now that the problem is defined, it’s time to try a bunch of things out. You want to generate as many ideas as possible. You’re looking to challenge the status quo and any of the assumptions about the problem you stated earlier in the process. You can’t know the best solution until you’ve considered all the options.

Prototype

After ideating, it’s time to start experimenting with the different ideas you came up with during the previous phase and begin creating prototypes that you’ll test.

Test

With your prototypes in hand, it’s time to learn if your solutions hit the mark. This is where you’ll run usability tests with real users to see what they think. You’ll get valuable feedback that you’ll use to either return to previous phases of the process to iterate further, or to move on to a final stage of production. 

It’s important to point out that these phases aren’t linear and it’s not a step-by-step process. It’s typical to jump back and forth between them and/or run phases in parallel.

Additionally, while there are a vast number of methods you can use during each phase, the 5 phases always remain the same. Think of the process as being dynamic. Depending on the context and the problem you’re solving, you apply the phase and methods that make the most sense. 

Does this sound familiar to the UX process we talked about previously? It should. Design thinking is built into our UX process. The Empathize and Define stages are the equivalent to Research & understanding. Ideate is the same as Information architecture & wireframing. Prototype and Test are the same as... you guessed it... the Prototyping & usability testing phase. And our process includes the final step of handing off for production, Visual design & handoff.

Back to vault

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Back to vault

5

What is UX?

2
Getting started

Why is UX important?

3
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What is the UX process?

4
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What is design thinking?

5
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What do UX designers do?

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UX vs UI

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Do UX designers need to know how to code?

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Recommended UX books

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UX university programs: Pros & cons

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UX bootcamps: Pros & cons

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6 brutal truths aspiring UX designers don't want to hear

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Difference Between Graphic Designer vs UX Designer vs UI Designer

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Intro to research & understanding

101
Research & understanding

Finding a problem to solve

102
Research & understanding

SWOT analysis

103
Research & understanding

Competitive analysis

104
Research & understanding

Heuristic evaluation (usability evaluation)

105
Research & understanding

Task analysis

106
Research & understanding

Stakeholder interview

107
Research & understanding

Framing the problem

108
Research & understanding

Research plan

109
Research & understanding

Survey

110
Research & understanding

User interview

111
Research & understanding

Card sorting

112
Research & understanding

Customer journey map

113
Research & understanding

Empathy map

114
Research & understanding

Affinity diagram

115
Research & understanding

Personas

116
Research & understanding

Contextual inquiry

117
Research & understanding

Diary study

120
Research & understanding

Eye tracking

121
Research & understanding

Intro to IA

201
IA & wireframing

Layout + CRAP

203
IA & wireframing

Site map

204
IA & wireframing

Scenarios

205
IA & wireframing

Storyboards

206
IA & wireframing

Low vs high-fidelity

207
IA & wireframing

Sketching

208
IA & wireframing

Wireframes

209
IA & wireframing

User flows

210
IA & wireframing

Intro to usability testing

301
Prototyping & usability testing

Usability testing plan

302
Prototyping & usability testing

Prototypes

304
Prototyping & usability testing

Research report

305
Prototyping & usability testing

Typography basics

401
Visual design & handoff

Color basics

402
Visual design & handoff

Color accessibility

403
Visual design & handoff

Pixels vs points

404
Visual design & handoff

Layout + 8pt grid system

405
Visual design & handoff

Design system

406
Visual design & handoff

UX writing

408
Visual design & handoff

"Final" usability test

409
Visual design & handoff

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UX portfolio

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Choosing a site builder for your UX portfolio

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