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  • Writer's pictureMichael Marshall

What is Design Thinking?

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

In the world of technology and design there is a phrase that is often thrown around and seen to be an important trait of creatives and this term is Design Thinking. But what is design thinking and is it something you need to put into practice in order to run your online business? In this blog post we'll take a look at what defines design thinking and what it can do for your business.


The Design Thinking Thought Cycle
Design thinking is a 5 step thought cycle that leads to critical analysis and problem solving

Design thinking is an approach to problem-solving that focuses on understanding users' needs and experiences in order to create innovative and effective solutions. In the context of online businesses, design thinking can be a valuable tool for creating products and services that meet the needs of customers and stand out from competitors.


The Phases of The Design Thinking Approach

Design thinking typically involves several phases, including empathy, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Here's how each of these phases might apply to an online business:

  1. Empathy: In this phase, the online business seeks to understand the needs, wants, and pain points of its target customers. This might involve conducting user research, analyzing customer feedback, or simply observing how people interact with similar products or services.

  2. Define: Based on the insights gathered in the empathy phase, the online business can define the problem it is trying to solve or the opportunity it is trying to seize. This might involve framing the problem as a "How Might We" question or creating a problem statement that captures the essence of the challenge.

  3. Ideate: With a clear problem statement in mind, the online business can then generate a wide range of ideas for how to address the challenge. This might involve brainstorming sessions, ideation workshops, or other techniques for generating creative solutions.

  4. Prototype: From the ideas generated in the ideation phase, the online business can then create low-fidelity prototypes to test with users. These might be simple wireframes, mockups, or other types of prototypes that allow the business to quickly iterate and refine its ideas.

  5. Test: Finally, the online business can test its prototypes with users to gather feedback and refine its ideas. This might involve user testing sessions, surveys, or other methods for gathering feedback from customers.

At the heart of these phases is the customer/ user. By always approaching your problem solving from a user-centric point of view you are more likely to create solutions that enhance your businesses success in the market. Ultimately, design thinking can be a powerful tool for online businesses to create products and services that are truly customer-focused and stand out from the competition. By putting the user at the center of the design process, online businesses can create experiences that truly meet customers' needs and expectations.


In their blog post Creately demonstrates how these phases can be visualised in a practical way using various types of diagrams and flowcharts. If you are interested in learning more about how to practically map out your design thinking process I recommend you take a look at this blog post for some inspiration. (this is not a sponsored link - I just liked their post).



Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. Involving five phases—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test—it is most useful to tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown. - Interaction Design Organisation

How to learn Design Thinking methods:

There are many resources available for people who want to learn more about design thinking. Here are a few options:

  1. Online courses: There are many online courses that cover design thinking, including both free and paid options. Some popular platforms for online courses include Coursera, edX, and Udemy.

  2. Books: There are many books that cover design thinking, including popular titles like "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman, "Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience, and Brand Value" by Thomas Lockwood, and "Change by Design" by Tim Brown.

  3. Workshops and training programs: Many design agencies and consulting firms offer workshops and training programs that cover design thinking. These programs are often tailored to specific industries or business needs.

  4. Design thinking organizations: There are many organizations that promote and support design thinking, including the Design Management Institute, the Interaction Design Foundation, and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford.

  5. Online resources: There are many online resources available for learning about design thinking, including blogs, videos, and podcasts. Some popular options include IDEO's Design Thinking for Educators toolkit, the Stanford d.school's Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking, and the Creative Confidence podcast by IDEO U.

There are many ways to learn about design thinking, and the best approach will depend on your individual learning style and needs.


Put simply, design thinking helps website owners create user-centric websites that meet the needs of their customers and stand out from competitors, resulting in better business outcomes. Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) famously said:

"The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer.Our goal is to be earth's most customer-centric company." - Jeff Bezos

If you think about how you run your business, do you believe you utilise this thought methodology in your decision making or ideating process? Is this something that you believe you are good at or something you'd hire out to a consultant? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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