Design thinking is a set of principles for a hands-on approach to problem-solving using a human-centered design within a design-centric culture anywhere where the emotional, cognitive, and aesthetic needs of users tend to be fulfilled.

A lot of buzzwords here, right?

So, let us enlarge this definition bit by bit and see what design thinking actually is. And more importantly, how can it help you during the process of user experience research and user interface design.

In this article, we will focus on using design thinking principles for UI/UX design, and see how these can aid designers in making much more meaningful, functional, and usable web design solutions.

Since the most effective way during the design thinking process is mapping, you should make yourself a space for it, sharpen your pens, and get those post-its ready. You are going to need them.

We will now walk you through the process, step by step.

Let’s start.


Design thinking may be misunderstood as a “one rule fits all” strategy, but it is not, and sometimes it will not work. As Bill Burnett, an assistant professor and master in design thinking at Stanford University, likes to say:

“Design thinking is a method, not magic.”

So, it is a method, a process, a skill-set, a mindset. And yes, it really is a set of principles, too.

The core design thinking principles are:

  1. Empathizing with users – you should start researching and walking in user’s shoes as soon as you start a new project.
  2. Defining the problem – includes mapping difficulties, interpreting, planning, and strategizing.
  3. Ideating solutions – brainstorming, imagining, pondering and reflecting on possible outcomes.
  4. Prototyping – means sketching, visualizing, applying, and creating wireframes and beta versions.
  5. Testing – includes reviewing, getting feedback, fixing, clearing out, and revising.

Please note, there is no straight line here, and these are not simply five consecutive steps – it is a cycling overlap of procedures.

Bear in mind also that design thinking is not a process to be done in solitude. It requires collaboration between people with different specialties who will contribute with original, fresh ideas, and then narrow the ideas down to possible solutions.

So, if you are preparing to create a website, gather your team of fellow designers, researchers, developers, SEO experts, copywriters, and others to get as many different perspectives, ideas, and solutions as you can.

Because, you know what they say – meeting the client’s expectations is excellent, but exceeding them is what will keep the designer in the business.

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