What Is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a process that refocuses a company’s energy on the consumer rather than the product.

Written by Matthew Urwin
Published on Dec. 16, 2022
What Is Design Thinking?
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
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Trent Victor | Aug 12, 2022

Design thinking is a people-first mindset that helps teams understand what consumers need and how their products can fulfill those needs. Seeing products through the eyes of the consumer enables businesses to tailor their products to target audiences. Products that go through this journey are more likely to solve consumers’ everyday problems. 

What are the stages of design thinking?

  • Because design thinking prioritizes potential customers, teams must conduct research and develop a firm grasp of their target audience’s preferences.

The interests of consumers direct how a product is developed in a design thinking process, so companies should begin by conducting research. These efforts could take the form of interviews where teams observe the reactions that products evoke from consumers. Along the way, businesses can further define who their desired users are and how they can cater to their specific needs. 

Teams can start brainstorming solutions and creating prototypes after the initial steps, ending with a test format to gauge how well the product serves consumers. If companies stumble during any stage, they may need to discern whether their strategy centers around product or service design. A sharper understanding of the campaign and consumer preferences will help businesses deliver more refined products and services.

Why is design thinking important?

  • Design thinking builds connections between teams and consumers, leading to products that reflect a more thoughtful, purposeful approach.

A product means nothing if it doesn’t do something to improve the lives of people, and design thinking reminds companies of this reality. When businesses adopt design thinking, they embrace a human-centered design that emphasizes the priorities of consumers. This mindset requires various teams to come together to solve the problems of their target audiences, building stronger bonds between employees and audiences. 

By forging genuine connections, companies are better able to stand out from the waves of products that bombard consumers daily. The ‘attention economy’ has become saturated with demands for attention, leaving people overstimulated and harder to make an impression on. Design thinking cuts through the noise with products that account for consumers’ preferences. As a result, this approach is an efficient method for releasing products that consumers will buy.


How Do You Practice Design Thinking?

The adaptability of design thinking makes it a convenient process to adopt in a diverse range of situations.

Whether someone is a product manager or the leader of a Learning and Development team, professionals can tailor design thinking to a variety of circumstances. To embody the right mindset, teams must embrace constraints, empathy and the possibility of failure. These requirements reflect design thinking’s people-first attitude. With these ideals, teams will come to respect consumers’ wishes and strive to meet their standards. 

Becoming comfortable with these values is not always easy, so companies can support their employees by investing in design thinking courses. Design thinking may require retraining for a customer-first mindset, but once businesses immerse themselves in this process, they can apply design thinking to their projects seamlessly.

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