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Bryan Ferguson
Bryan Ferguson

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3 Stages of Design thinking

Design thinking

Design thinking is a strategy-making process that avoids making mistakes by applying the use of certain tools from the world of design and shifting the focus to human behavior and analyzing how certain things will affect different individuals. It was popularized by David M. Kelly and Tim Brown of IDEO and Roger Martin of the Rotman School. Generally, whenever web developers set strategies to design a product based on what their clients/users want they often stumble. Either they collect a lot of backward-looking data, which doesn’t tell them what future customers really want. Or they make risky bets based on instinct instead of evidence.

The 3 Major Stages

The major stages of the design thinking process ensure that your design will be able to meet your future customers’ wants.

First stage: Invent the Future

In the first stage, you start with forming a few theories about what your users might want, by immersing yourself in their lives. Instead of polling them about specific design features, you observe and ask questions about their behavior. The process stops at realizing what they might want (that you currently don’t have), and you move on to the next step.

Second stage: Test Your Ideas

Use iterative prototyping on the designs you’ve created and conduct a few quick experiments to see how users respond. Iterative prototyping is basically a repeating cycle of designing, prototyping, testing, and refining multiple “versions” of a product (in this case a web design). After you’re done with the iterative prototyping process, you can make the necessary changes and move on to the final stage of the design thinking process.

Third stage: Bring it to Life

The last stage of the design thinking process involves bringing the new design to life. After you’re done with the iterative prototyping process and picking a winner, you start developing the final product based on all the points collected in the previous two stages.
Organizing your workflow makes way for improvement and innovation. Design thinking is about solving problems. The same was the case for the manufacturing industry when Total Quality Management was introduced in the 1980s by Toyota. Design thinking has the potential to do for innovation in web development exactly what TQM did for manufacturing. By strategically structuring your whole design process, you can not only improve the process as is but also make room for innovation. Because in the first stage instead of asking the user/client for what they want, what you do is you observe their behaviors and analyze them based on what they would want but not know yet. What this does is that it makes room for innovation because you usually end up making a design the client didn’t actually ask for but wanted and didn't know that they wanted that design.


Human-centered problem solving requires a fair bit of imagination. Design thinking can help you unlock new creative avenues that later help you come up with new strategies for designing a product. In a nutshell, Design Thinking is about improving products by analyzing user behavior and understanding how they interact with products along with the conditions where they operate the product.

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