Design thinking methodology 

Design Thinking is a methodology applied by project teams for innovation activities focused on satisfying user needs”. It provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It can be applied to virtually any creative area – however, in this article, we will focus specifically on Design Thinking in software development.  its main objective is to create innovative, custom solutions for well-defined problems. This is important for software development, as it allows for a deepened research of user needs and creating the best possible user experience.

It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown, by understanding the human needs involved, by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, by creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and by adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing. Designing of UX if not done carefully, may lead to project delays causing a risk to fulfill project development timely. 

The Origin of the 5-Stage Model

In 1969, Nobel Prize Laureate Herbert Simon outlined one of the first formal models of the Design Thinking process having proceeding stages as a software development lifecycle. Simon’s model consists of seven major stages, each with component stages and activities, and was largely influential in shaping some of the most widely used Design Thinking process models today. We focus on the five-stage Design Thinking model proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, all based upon the same principles featured in Simon’s 1969 model.

Linear Design Thinking Methodology:

Understanding these five stages of Design Thinking will empower anyone to apply the Design Thinking methods to solve complex problems that occur around us while managing different projects. 

1. Empathize

The primary phase of the Design Thinking measure is to acquire an empathic comprehension of the problem you are attempting to address. This includes consulting specialists to discover more about the domain of problem through observing, drawing in, and feeling for individuals to comprehend their encounters and inspirations to acquire a more profound understanding of the issues involved. Depending upon time imperatives, a considerable measure of data is accumulated at this stage to use during the following stage and to build up the most ideal comprehension of the clients, their requirements, and the issues that underlie the development of that specific product. Empathy is pivotal as it permits design thinking masterminds an insight into the client’s requirements.

2. Define (the Problem)

During the Define stage, you set up the data you have made and collected during the Empathize stage. This is the place where you will examine your perceptions and blend them to characterize the core issues that you and your group have distinguished so far.

The issue to be represented rather as “We need to expand our food-products market share among young ladies by 5%,” a greatly improved approach to characterize the issue would be, “High school young ladies need to eat nutritious food to flourish, be sound and develop.”

3. Ideate

During the third stage of the Design Thinking process, designers are ready to start generating ideas. The session of Ideation techniques Brainstorm and Worst Possible Idea are typically used to stimulate free thinking and to expand the problem space. It is important to get as many ideas or problem solutions as possible at the beginning of the Ideation phase. You can adopt any other Ideation techniques by the end of the Ideation phase to help you investigate and test your ideas so you can find the best way to solve a problem. You’ve grown to understand your users and their requirements and your team can start to “think outside the box” to identify new solutions to the problem statement you’ve created, and also alternative ways of viewing the problem. 

4. Prototype

The designers will now deliver various reasonable, scaled versions of the product or explicit highlights found within the product, so they can examine the solutions of problems produced in the last stage. Prototypes might be shared and tested within the team, in different offices, or on individuals outside the designer’s group. This is a trial stage, and the point is to distinguish the most ideal answer for every one of the issues recognized during the initial three phases. The solutions are executed inside the prototypes, and, individually, they are explored and either acknowledged, improved, and reevaluated, or dismissed based on the clients’ experiences. Before the end of this stage, the design group will have a better understanding of a clearer perspective on how genuine clients would carry on, think, and feel while connecting with the final result.

5. Test

This is the final stage of the 5 stage-model but an iterative process. Designers or evaluators rigorously test the complete product using the best solutions identified during the prototyping phase. The results are often used to redefine one or more problems and inform the understanding of the users, the conditions of use, how people think, behave, and feel, and to empathize. Even during this phase, alterations and refinements are made based on an understanding of the product and its users as possible.

The Non-Linear Nature of Design Thinking:

The outstanding and successful solutions are led by flexible approaches generally, i.e., non-linear design thinking methodology. The different phases of the design thinking process can be conducted in parallel that is also time effective as well as cost-effective. The designers may collect information and prototype during the entire project to enable them to bring their ideas to life and visualize the solutions. Testing results may lead to the brainstorming session (Ideate) or the development of new prototypes (Prototype).

Importance of Non-Linear Approach:

Note that the five phases are not generally sequential — they don’t need to follow a particular manner and they can frequently happen to resemble and be rehashed iteratively. Thus, the stages ought to be perceived as various modes that add to a task, as opposed to consecutive advances. Every project will involve activities specific to the product under development, but the central idea behind each stage remains the same. 

Designing Flexibility:

Design Thinking should not be viewed as a rigid & solidly inflexible approach. To acquire the most flawless and most useful informative insights for your specific task, these stages may be exchanged, directed simultaneously, and rehashed a few times to extend the solutions, and focus on the most ideal solutions. The figure above clearly demonstrates that you can iteratively go through the stages and in parallel as well. This approach will provide continuous information about understanding the problem and the suggested solution domains.


In conclusion, the Design Thinking process is iterative, flexible, and focused on collaboration between designers and users, with an emphasis on bringing ideas to life based on how real users think, feel and behave either utilizing a non-flexible linear approach or follow the non-concrete non – linear approach. Design Thinking tackles complex problems by empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and finally assurance by testing.

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Asiya Mazhar


Asiya is an experienced & proficient software engineer. Being Project Coordinator at CodeLabs, she is responsible for managerial tasks dealings and coordinating for software projects.

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