Design Thinking, or the materialization of your users’ needs. With these 50 years of experience, the design thinking process consists of creating an interface or a product emanating from the desires of its potential target. But then, when we are not from the design world, what tools can help us to apply them? The answer is to be found in this article.



Developed in the 1980s by Rolf Faste, director of product design at Stanford, Design Thinking refers to how designers think. Currently, there is still no official definition of the term. The Nielsen Norman Group surveyed UX professionals, and one definition came back “Design Thinking is a human-centered, iterative, solution-based problem-solving framework .”.

As part of developing a web interface or a mobile application, design thinking intervenes in the UX phase to identify the needs and expectations of users. 

Design Thinking is: 

Human-centric: the user is at the center of the process because design thinking is based on their analysis and understanding. Its objective is to help UX professionals define a problem and question it to propose solutions. 

Repetitive: during the different stages of the design thinking process, the results will make it possible to question and revise the results obtained at the start.  

An approach to finding solutions: design thinking is a method to approach complex or not well-defined projects. This process aims to help formulate a problem and propose solutions.


This process and its characteristics were defined by the American designer Rolf Faste. The three criteria to take into account: 

Viability: what is the point of developing this interface? What is the possible return on investment? 

Desirability: will users use it? Will they adopt it? 

Feasibility: do you have the necessary resources? (budget, skills, technologies, teams, etc.)

Also Read: Design Thinking And Co. – These New Work Trends Are Important Now


Several objectives emerge from this practice: 

Understand user behavior to find solutions.

Anticipate needs and improve the user experience with creativity. 

Mobilize the collective intelligence of a team to develop innovative ideas.


It has now become essential when conceptualizing a digital interface project. Design thinking is involved in all phases upstream of project design; we can also refer to UX Research. At the same time, the UX design will be concerned with the implementation phase and will allow the project to materialize. 

UX design includes major research and testing phases; this is where design thinking comes in with co-creation workshops. The UX Designer will then use this process to generate ideas and build a relevant ergonomic interface.


Design thinking is mainly done through workshops in which a team representing each trade in the project or company participates. During these workshops, the goal is to demonstrate creativity and authenticity. 

You have to leave room for imagination and fun. For this, the workshops must be well executed so everyone’s creative potential is at its peak. They can be done in games, group work, digital media (applications, games, etc.), or paper (post-it notes, wall diagrams, etc.). In any case, the goal remains the same: solve problems through creativity! 

To carry out a project, several sessions with the same team must be done to scan the different elements: 

  • Organization of creative exchanges to identify credible solutions 
  • Design of prototypes 
  • Testing these prototypes with target users

At the end of the test phase, the workshop will end if the users approve it.


According to designers at Stanford University, design thinking is defined in several stages: 

1: Understanding the user with empathy to know them,

2: Defining the problem to identify their expectations,

3: Generating ideas through brainstorming to identify solutions,

4: Prototyping ideas to select the most suitable ones, 

5: The test phase to experiment with the final interface and adjust it if necessary.



The immersion phase makes it possible to observe and seek to understand its users to identify their needs, habits, expectations, motivations, and obstacles. This phase demands empathy to put yourself in the end user’s shoes. Indeed, keep in mind that you are developing a solution for your users and not for you. 

Among the essential tools for the immersion phase: 

Documentary and exploratory research: this is both field research so that the team understands the context of the problem and a search for information on the theme of the project through various sources (books, magazines, blogs, articles, etc.). 

In-depth interviews: to obtain information through conversations between users and developers regarding the product, service, or process.  

Personas: they define your typical and ideal user with their expectations and needs. They play an important role in customizing solutions because they provide much information. 

An empathy map is a visual tool that analyzes and describes the behavioral aspects of the ideal user. Thanks to this card, it is possible to develop your target’s thoughts, problems, actions, and needs.


After collecting information in the immersion phase, this phase allows the team agree on the problem that will guide the process. Be careful; it must be kept in mind that we cannot provide solutions to all the problems at the same time. 

The essential tools for this phase: 

Concept map: This is a simplified diagram or visual organization of field data at different levels of depth. This map represents how several ideas relate to each other. This allows new ideas to be extracted from this reflection. 

Insight maps: reflections based on real data from desks and in-depth surveys that are transformed into maps to facilitate information visualization. 

The guiding criteria: this refers to the guidelines that must be followed continuously during the project’s development. They define the orientation and the limits of the tasks.

The 5 whys: allows you to have a focused discussion so you don’t get distracted by other topics. For this process, you will need to state a 1st problem, ask yourself why this problem exists, and examine it. And this is for each problem encountered. Be careful; there may be more or less than 5, depending on the problems identified.


The ideation phase must generate as many ideas as possible to respond to the problem by giving free rein to their ideas and imagination. 

In the ideation phase, you can use as tools: 

Direct brainstorming: the most popular brainstorming! This consists of naturally generating all possible ideas. They can be written on Post-its or spread out on a whiteboard so everyone can see them and select the best ideas together. 

Reverse brainstorming: instead of looking for solutions, the team must think about how to cause this problem. Once the ways of creating the problem are listed, the solutions to fix it seem easier to find. 

The mental map, or mind map: instead of collecting ideas in bulk, it is possible to create a mental map to visualize the relationships between ideas and push them further. It’s a 2 in 1; it will allow you to collect a maximum of ideas and categorize them directly.

Also Read: Design Principles For The 21st century


This phase allows the team to focus on the final solution and prototype it. This does not need to be perfect; it is created to understand the solution and adjust it based on feedback from test users. Thus, it is a question of materializing the elements brought to light by the various workshops.

There are various tools for the prototyping phase: 

The POC ( Proof of Concept ): is a method that allows you to assess the feasibility of a project. In this way, one can determine if an idea can be viable in reality. A POC requires time and resources but is considered a decisive factor before the development and launch of an interface. 

The storyboard: it is used to describe stories in a visual way from drawings, photographs, or a graphic representation. 

The 6 to 1 is a method of design and information architecture in the form of a creative co-design workshop. Each workshop participant has 6 rectangles with dedicated spaces for comments. Everyone must draw 6 proposals in a given time. 

Wireframes: design functional models used in the design of interfaces to have a draft of the structure of a site or an application. They synthetically illustrate the relationships between the pages and the structure of the functionalities.


Thanks to the prototype that serves as support, it will be possible to carry out tests with a panel of users. They are the ultimate judges of the project because the solution is developed for them. It is, therefore, important to know if it corresponds to their expectations and needs. And according to the feedback, the solution must be improved if necessary. 

For the test phase, it is possible to use these tools: 

The A/B test: it is an optimization method allowing two variants of a design to be compared at the same time to determine the best one. To perform it, it is necessary to have a large panel of users to improve the variant preferred by the majority. 

The 5-second test: consists of capturing the first impressions of targeted users when they discover the new interface for the first time. 

The usability test: is an observation exercise! Ask users to perform certain tasks and observe them. This test will show which aspects of the design gave the user problems.

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