‑ Design thinking

The foundation for most UX processes is called design thinking. It is a problem-solving method specifically for what is called wicked problems.

Another problem-solving method that is most commonly used within IT is the same as Alexander the Great used when he won Asia, divide and conquer. When a problem has an easy solution, you don’t need to think to solve it, it is just there for you to take. When a problem is slightly more complex, you need to divide it into smaller problem, this is normally called analysis, solve these problems and then put the solutions together to form a whole, and this is normally called synthesis. The structure or steps of this solution is called an algorithm.

When it comes to problems that can’t be broken down and where you only find the solution through an insight of some kind, normally referred to as thinking outside the box, these can be solved using design thinking. Design thinking takes care of problems where humans are one part of the solution. This is done through divergent and convergent thinking. When you think divergently, you explore a lot of different ideas through collaborative ideation methods. When there are possible solutions found in the area, you converge to find the correct solution to the problem.

Within UX, the divergent methods can be user research or design studio, where the latter actually is using both divergent and convergent thinking. The convergent methods can be prototyping or usability testing.

Design thinking has five stages. Within these stages the right questions can be asked, problems can be framed, more ideas can be created, and the best answers can be chosen and evaluated. These stages are not linear, they can occur simultaneously and iteratively.

Design thinking stages

  • Empathize

    In this stage you learn about the people for whom you are solving the problem, this is done by observing and interviewing.

  • Define

    In the definition stage you create a point of view that is based on these peoples’ needs and insights.

  • Ideate

    The divergent focus in the ideation stage is obvious. Here you brainstorm to come up with as many creative solutions as possible.

  • Prototype

    In the prototype stage you build a representation of one or more of your ideas to show others.

  • Test

    Here you share your prototyped idea with the people you are solving to problem for to get feedback.

Actual way of working

The double diamond model by the UK design council is a good visualization of how you would actually work with design thinking.

Double diamond from Intersection book

What’s next? Use a structured approach for your specific problem, such as user-centered design.