Design Thinking Process & models

As I wrote in my last post, Design Thinking is methodology as a way to innovate and it has different models from different organizations and schools. First of all, I can not confirm that one framework is better than another. It matters how it is used and facilitated.

Some time ago, I had presented Design Thinking to my colleagues. The model of was on my presentation. It is easy, lean and understandable to be used by everyone.

So, In this post will observe the five-stage Design Thinking model proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (

5 steps design thinking model proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (

Hasso Plattner Institute of Design

The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, commonly known as the, a place for explorers and experimenters at Stanford University

The Institute was founded by Stanford mechanical engineering professor David M. Kelley, six other professors and George Kembel in 2004. The program integrates business, law, medicine, the social sciences and humanities into more traditional engineering and product design education.

We believe everyone has the capacity to be creative. The Stanford is a place where people use design to develop their own creative potential.

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What is the Design Thinking Process?

  The design thinking process according to the    Stanford d. School   .

The six stages of Design Thinking, according to, are as follows: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.

1. Empathize

The Empathize mode is the work you do to understand people, within the context of your design challenge. During this stage, we are working with users a lot. Observing what people do and how they interact with their environment gives you clues about what they think and feel.

Sometimes a good conversation can surprise both the designer and the subject by the unanticipated insights that are revealed. View users and their behavior in the context of their lives.

Prepare some questions you’d like to ask, but expect to let the conversation deviate from them. Ask someone to show you how they complete a task. Have them physically go through the steps, and talk you through why they are doing what they do. Ask them to vocalize what’s going through their minds as they perform a task or interact with an object.

Have a conversation in the context of someone’s home or workplace – so many stories are embodied in artifacts. Use the environment to prompt deeper questions.

  • Questions: Who is the user? What matters to this person? How does this feature fit into their lives? What motivates or discourages users? Where do they experience frustration?
  • Tactics: User interviews, personas, customer journey maps, the 5 W’s (and H), empathy maps

2. Define

The Define mode of the design process is all about bringing clarity and focus to the design space. The goal of the Define mode is to craft a meaningful and actionable problem statement – this is what we call a point-of-view.

The Define mode is sense-making. It results in your point-of-view (POV): the explicit expression of the problem. The Define mode is also an endeavor to synthesize our findings into insights.

The final point-of-view has to combine these three elements – userneed, and insight – as an actionable problem statement that will drive the rest of your design work.

A good point-of-view is one that:

  • Provides focus and frames the problem
  • Inspires your team
  • Informs criteria for evaluating competing ideas
  • Empowers your team to make decisions independently in parallel
  • Captures the hearts and minds of people you meet
  • Saves you from the impossible task of developing concepts that are all things to all people

3. Ideate

Ideate is the mode of the design process in which you concentrate on idea generation. We ideate in order to transition from identifying problems to creating solutions for our users.

Particularly early in a design project, ideation is about pushing for a widest possible range of ideas from which you can select, not simply finding a single, best solution.

Techniques like Brainstormingaffinity diagram can be used. After collecting as many ideas as you could, ask the team to vote. Two or three ideas that receive the most votes we forward into prototyping.

The determination of the best solution will be discovered later, through user testing and feedback.

  • Helpful Questions: What are the ideas? What are possible solutions?
  • Tactics: Brainstorm, competitive and comparative analysis, bodystorm, mindmaps, sketching, storyboard

4. Prototype

During the prototyping phase, a number of scaled-down versions of the product are created. These prototypes may focus on specific features of the product which try to solve the problems identified in the empathize, define and ideate phases.

Prototyping thoroughly can help to better address the user needs and problems identified. A number of features may be put in place one after the other so each can be assessed. If they do not properly resolve issues and needs then they can be rejected.

By testing all these different features your team will start to get a better idea of the kind of constraints they may be dealing with and how well their ideas are resolving user issues.

5. Test

The Test mode is when you solicit feedback, about the prototypes you have created. Show them to your users and have another opportunity to gain empathy for the people you are designing for.

Ideally, you can test within a real context of the user’s life. Try to create a scenario in a location that would capture the real situation. Listen to what they say about it, and the questions they have.

  • Helpful Questions: What are users telling us that we can further iterate on? What went well? Where did users have difficulty?
  • Tactics: Usability testing

6. Implement

“We need more design doing.”

Implementation is taking an idea in your head, and transforming that idea into something real and usable by users. As impactful as design thinking can be for an organization, it only leads to true innovation if the vision is executed. The success of design thinking lies in its ability to transform an aspect of the end user’s life, and is arguably the most important step.

Helpful Questions: How do we materialize the solution?

Tactics: High-fidelity mocks, specifications to engineering

Iteration and making the process your own

Iteration is a fundamental of good design. Design Thinking is an iterative process. You may pivot between stages. And it does not mean failure. Pivoting between modes can create a better solution for our users.

Why Design Thinking is So Useful in Tech

When building an app, many people get excited about all the potential bells and whistles that can be added to really “wow” a customer. But more often than not, simpler is better. How do you pare down an idea to its essence in order to ensure your user intuitively knows how to use the app? It starts with understanding your client/user and how they might use the tech itself. That’s why it’s so important to get their input early on in the process!

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