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The 5 stages in design thinking


Design thinking for businesses
The 5 stages in design thinking

Human problems require human-inspired solutions. This is the core of design thinking.


Design thinking is an all-inclusive human approach.

There are five stages in the design thinking process. These steps will guide you in formulating and applying human-centered solutions to complex problems.


If you want to implement the design thinking process in your organization effectively, you must pay attention to these steps.

  1. Empathize. How can you serve people effectively when you do not know them? Empathize stresses the need to identify the feelings and biases of your target consumer. At this stage, you employ surveys, user interviews, and following up on resources gathered from activities that involve your customers using your products. Empathize is where you eliminate all assumptions about your customers to gain fresh perceptions about their actual needs.

  2. Define. Everything has a name. Call it by its name. The define stage is where you create time and enough room to develop, improve, and reframe the problem. You are to use the data collected at the empathize stage. The data is unpacked and examined. This stage aims to find unique user problems and needs. The define stage is meant to paint a clear picture of the problem that you are trying to solve.

  3. Ideate. “Think outside the box.” Sounds cliché? Well, that is basically what happens here. Empathize and define creates the environment. Now let the ideas run wild. Design thinking is for everyone; make sure you have every department represented. You never can tell where the winning idea would come from. All ideas should be welcomed.

  4. Prototype. Great ideas can be overwhelming. But how do you know if an idea is truly great? Well, the prototype is how you find out. Allow the design team to come up with several toned-down versions of the product. These prototypes can are then tested within the team or in other departments. You can even engage a small group of people. Sometimes, experts advise “paper” prototyping. When people see that the idea is still in development or just a “stretch,” they give better suggestions. They understand that you can still implement their observation.

  5. Test. You want to be sure that the product will work. This last stage in design thinking allows for rigorous evaluation. Yet, there are situations where the test results might require that you restart the process from the top.

The design thinking process is an infinite loop most times. It never ends.

Think of a website or an app downloaded from the store; how often do you get notified for an upgrade?


These stages are just a guide to be followed to get the most out of the process.


​For design thinking to work, your team must be able to halt, take action and change course based on the information that the design thinking process gives you.

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