What do world-famous brands such as Apple, Google, and Samsung have in common? Apart from the fact that they’ve all developed innovative products, they’ve all embraced design thinking. In fact, design thinking has become so popular, that it’s being taught at some of the world’s leading universities. 

But what is design thinking? Why is it so popular? Here we’ll deal with these questions in more detail.

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What Is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a solution-based approach to solving problems. It focuses on the solution for a problem instead of focusing on the problem itself. As such, designers use it for practical and creative problem-solving, hence the name design thinking. Keep in mind, though, that they can apply it to any field and is not necessarily limited to design. 

Design thinking is an iterative process that focuses, first and foremost, on understanding users, their needs, and coming up with solutions to fulfill those needs. During it’s process, designers challenge assumptions and redefine problems to identify strategies for solving these problems in ways they may not have thought about initially.

Before looking at the phases of design thinking, let’s look at the four key rules that underpin it.

The Four Rules of this methodology

The four rules of design thinking are:

  • The human rule. All design is social in nature. Design should therefore take a human-centric view. Problems must be solved in a way that addresses human needs. 
  • The ambiguity rule. Ambiguity is inevitable, and it cannot be removed or oversimplified. Experimenting at the limits of our knowledge will lead to us seeing things in a fresh way and come up with alternative solutions.
  • The redesign rule. All design is redesign. Although technology constantly improves, human needs stay the same. We should thus redesign to keep fulfilling these human needs.
  • The tangibility rule. Creating ideas in a tangible form makes it easier for designers to communicate about them.

The Five Phases

Based on these 4 rules, we can divide the process into 5 distinct phases.


During this phase you have to understand the problem you’re trying to solve. It’s necessary to step into the users’ shoes to understand their problems and identify their needs and wants. You thus identify a need in the market.


Once a need is identified, you can define the problem that needs to be solved in human-centric terms. Once the problem is defined, you can start coming up with solutions to the problem. 


With a clear understanding of the user and their problems, you can start working on potential solutions to the problem. It’s here where the creativity happens and you can come up with as many ideas as possible.


Here you take your ideas or feasible solutions and turn them into something tangible that you can experiment with. Throughout this phase, the potential solutions may be accepted, rejected, improved, or redesigned. 


After a solution has been prototyped, you go into the user testing stage. More often than not, the results in this stage will lead you back to the previous stage to improve, or redesign solutions. 

Do You Want to Apply it on your organization?

By applying the design thinking process, you create a product using an user-centric product development process which, ultimately, leads to better products. If you need more information on design thinking or implementing it, contact us. With our experience, we’re in a perfect position to give you the best advice.

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