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Creativity, innovation and customer are the pillars of the Design Thinking. We tell you what it is and how to put this methodology into practice, which has been the reason for the success of companies such as Apple, Zara or Ikea.

What is Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a methodology for solving problems or challenges with new approaches to achieve innovative solutions.

It consists of analyzing the problem based on three variables:

  1. La technology available to find a solution.
  2. La economic viability of the solution.
  3. La customer satisfaction by generating value for users.

Where did Design Thinking come from?

The term Design Thinking originates from the economist Herbert Simon, who coined it for the first time in 1969 in the book “The Science of Artificial”.

Its conceptualization and popularization are due to Tim Brown, a professor at Stanford University and co-founder of the IDEO consulting firm, who published an article in which they developed the methodology initiated by Simon.

What characterizes Design Thinking

The Design Thinking process is characterized by the following factors, inherent in the methodology:

  1. Search for an innovative solution focused on people
  2. Need to observe users to discover unmet needs
  3. The use of perceptions as a complement to objective data
  4. Repetition of the solutions to adjust them and complete them with new ideas
  5. The involvement of end users in the process, which reduces uncertainty.

Design Thinking is a methodology that can be used in any sector that is willing to put this discipline into practice. Its fields of application include:

  1. Development of innovative products or services
  2. Development of organizational designs, community management
  3. Improving the user experience with customers of a product or service
  4. Design of new internal work processes
  5. Strategic planning.

How to create a Design Thinking process

The Design Thinking process is carried out through 5 fundamental actions:


1. Empathize 

You start by understanding the needs of the users involved in the solution you are looking for. It is necessary to get into the client’s skin and their problems.

You have to observe what they do, what they say and find out why. The more emotional the product, the more you will have to delve into the investigation. For this phase, several tools can be used, among others:

  1. Empathy Map: it is a method that allows to identify insights (often unexpected) based on what the user says, does, thinks and feels. Mural ( is a great tool for all listeners to collaboratively write their notes.
  2. Depth interview: in this phase of the process the objective is to understand the other. The interview can be a good instrument to achieve this.
  3. Questionnaire “What, How, Why”: It consists of observing how a client acts with a product and service and answering what the user does in that particular situation; how you carry out the activity; why he does what he does.
  4. Actors map: is a graphical representation of all customers of a product.
  5. Immersion cognitive: it is about relating the user experience at a rational and emotional level, as it goes through the phases that the use of the product or service implies. It is “cognitive” because you have to imagine yourself enjoying the product or service, which differentiates it from a real immersion.
  6. Mood  are built on?: consists of collecting graphic materials to convey ideas, feelings or values ​​that are more difficult to express.


2. Define 

During the definition stage we filter the information collected in the previous phase and we keep what really adds value.

We will identify problems to work on innovative solutions. To do so, you can use the “Point of view” tool, which consists of completing three sentences:

  1. The userClaudia Garcia
  2. Your problem: you need to make your NGO visible
  3. Why: does not have enough resources to continue operating

There are also some online tools that work at this stage. For example: UX Pressia, Miro or Canvanizer.


3. Ideate 

In the ideation stage, the objective is to generate ideas to solve the problems raised in the previous phase.

In this phase there should be no prejudices or limits when it comes to proposing ideas, even if they seem without apparent sense. Anything goes and sometimes the strangest ideas are the ones that give rise to the most creative solutions.

In this phase, the most common is to carry out a Brainstorming, but other techniques can also be applied:

  1. service map: visually represents the different contact points of the service or product with which the customer interacts.
  2. co-creation: It involves the users involved with the solutions to be developed, such as customers and employees. It is highly recommended in times of stagnation and can also be used to validate ideas.
  3. Scenarios: it is about contextualizing the experience of a client in the immediate future, to design an appropriate business model. For this technique, the same environment must be used with different people, which will allow general and specific conclusions to be obtained from each of the profiles.
  4. Decision matrix: it is a tool for strategic analysis of the ideas generated. It is used to support the decision process, emphasizing the benefits and challenges of each solution. In this way, it enables the most strategic ideas to be selected for the next phase.


4. Prototype 

In this phase, a “rapid” prototype is built, which allows the ideas or concepts to be shaped. The objective is to make a prototype that does not consume too many resources or time, in order to test it as soon as possible.

Once the scope of the project and the backlog have been defined, you have to select the prototyping tool you want to work on, such as Auxure, XD, Figma or Sketch.

Less technological tools can also be used, such as Storyboarding or paper prototyping.


5. Test 

This phase should be prepared based on the development of the idea. Testing does not only seek to obtain the user’s opinion, but also to understand what he does with respect to the proposed solution and what we observe that he may think or feel.

Once the feedback is obtained, the conclusions are analyzed to improve the solution addressed. In this phase, the following tools can be used, among others:

  1. user test: It is used to observe and analyze the way in which real users interact with the product or service.
  2. feedback matrix: Allows you to organize the ideas of users who are testing the product. The matrix is ​​made up of four quadrants where the strong points of the proposal, constructive criticism, outstanding doubts to be resolved and new ideas are noted.
  3. qualitative interview: This is a direct encounter with the end user. It is important at this point to investigate the “why”, to get better feedback.
  4. Focus Group: It is an unstructured group interview, directed by a moderator, whose objective is to register the problems, experiences or desires shared among the users.

Advantages of this methodology

1. Improve innovation and work culture 

The use of Design Thinking improves the efficiency of innovation processes as it favors the involvement of end customers in the design process. At the same time, it promotes an improvement in the work culture in the companies that use this methodology.


2. Better adaptation to changes 

If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it is the need to be agile in unexpected situations. Design Thinking promotes experimentation and creativity in business culture to create more flexible processes.


3. Cost reduction 

This methodology helps to understand the feasibility of each project from a technological, economic and client point of view, which is why it allows us to quickly detect if there were flaws in the value proposition, or in functional or logistical aspects.

Detecting these errors in the design phase is cheaper than doing it during development.


4. Boost teamwork 

Design Thinking involves different departments with the aim of obtaining a more creative and complete response. On the other hand, the participation of different profiles in the creation of the idea will allow evaluating its viability and starting to execute it from the beginning.


5. Generate new business opportunities 

This methodology helps companies to detect failures and provide new improvements. Therefore, instead of observing problems, Design Thinking turns them into opportunities for improvement.

At PSS we can help you carry out any phase of the Design Thinking process, whatever your objective may be. Contact us!

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