Design Thinking Steps: Everything You Need to Know

Based on the growth of job offerings in 2021, LinkedIn confirms that one of the top in-demand technical skills is Design Thinking.

In simple words, Design Thinking is a radical shift from – 'what could be the correct answer' to 'what is the correct question?'; 'more verbal speech' to 'more listening'. It also includes 'Collection of Data"' to 'Collection of Stories'; 'Incidents' to 'Experiences'. As a result, it is a human-centered and future-focused approach that helps in creating value.

Enroll for the Design Thinking Certification Training Course and be able to clearly define market fit and growth of your product and business!

What Is Design Thinking?

  • Design Thinking is extremely helpful in solving problems that are ill-defined or unknown.
  • Design Thinking is an iterative method that helps resolve user issues or redefines problems with the best solutions.

Design Thinking Steps

The Design Thinking process is divided into five steps. They are:

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Testing

This article will explain the steps of Design Thinking in a detailed manner so you can understand the approach and implement it in a step-by-step way. Let's start with Empathize phase.


  • It focuses on paying attention to the client's requirements.
  • A designer or its team should consider the user requirements in short. They should step into their shoes and try to find a solution to their problem in the best possible way.
  • Research the user's needs to get success in the entire process. 
  • Here, for user research, the designer should collect more details about the problem.
  • It's necessary to know how the user feels while interacting with a certain app or product.
  • Some of the common questions asked by designers on the stage are:
    • Is the user comfortable using the Zomato app? 
    • Does he like the user interface? 
    • What are the challenges he is facing while ordering food? 
    • Does the design of this application evoke feelings of frustration? 
    • What emotions does the user go through when navigating this app?

Note: In this stage, designers should hear out the complaints and create products that satisfy the user and make their lives easier. 

  • Without the empathy stage, the design process lacks all-important user-centricity qualities, which helps a designer reach the success stage rather than failing.

Moving onto the next step, defining a problem is the second step of the Design Thinking process.

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  • In the define stage, data is collected from the research performed in the empathy stage. 
  • Some of the commonly asked questions in the define stage are:
    • What problems and bottlenecks are users coming up against?
    • What is the major user problem that requires to be solved?
  • The define stage will encourage the team to gather useful techniques to solve challenges with the least difficulty.
  • Let's have a look at the example for the defined stage. 

Problem statement: A common problem for mothers is managing kids alone during crucial times. The aim is to come up with an idea for mothers where they can easily and quickly pick up groceries when they have sleeping kids in the car. 

  • Now, you must be wondering how can this be done? Well, this can be accomplished by doing the following:
  • By collecting data 
  • Differentiating facts from opinion
  • Consulting every piece of information and focusing on the major problem specifically
  • Figuring out what expectation is violated
  • Determining the stage in which the problem lies
  • The defined phase's output helps an individual build a clear and creative idea in a human-centered manner. 

After strong research on user requirements, it's the right time to step into the next phase of the Design Thinking process, i.e., the ideate phase.

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Ideate Phase

  • This phase gives priority to creativity and ideation. 
  • In this stage, the designers will be performing ideation sessions and searching for new ideas. 
  • In simple words, the phase focuses on creative and curious activities such as brainstorming activity.
  • Let's understand the phase with the help of an example:
  •  Problem Statement: A 20-year old boy lives in a town, he has a few             requirements: 
  •  Need: Every day he wants to use a car 
  •  Duration: 30-40 minutes trips, 
  •  Frequency: 2-3 times per month
  • Now, you must look at the insight of this problem statement. The young boy doesn't want to own a car as it would be too expensive for him. Instead, he wants a solution where he can share the four-wheeler with others having similar needs.
  • Here is a look at what could be done in the ideation phase:
  • Ask suitable questions to the user and come up with ideas based on their needs 
  • Brainstorm your ideas with your team members
  • Uncover unexpected areas of innovation

However, the ideation phase's goal is to help the designer come up with strong ideas for the users.

Moving onto the next phase, let us discuss the Prototype phase.

Prototype Phase:

  • In this phase, we can experiment and modify the errors found in the product. 
  • This phase is a mini version of the product; it validates solutions and tries to resolve obstacles. 
  • The stage has two types of prototypes: 
  1. Low Fidelity
  2. Medium fidelity
  • Low Fidelity: It is a prototype suitable for the early stage of the process. 
  • Medium Fidelity: It is a prototype suitable for the last stage represented through storyboards. 
  • It is best to understand this phase with a better example. When the first version of the Apple Watch was launched in the market, i.e., in April 2015, it was a quite smaller version than the prototype model. 
  • The prototype of the Apple Watch was a full-sized iPhone with a velcro strap attached to it. 
  • However, thanks to the prototype phase, which gave another chance to the designers to come up with a better Apple watch design.

Now, you will be exploring the last phase, i.e., the Testing phase.


  • This stage gives importance to user feedback based on the prototypes created. 
  • After a prototype is created, present it to your real users and get their feedback. 
  • However, in this stage, the user's feedback on the prototype stage is considered, and improvements are made in the testing stage.
  • These improvements help the designers redefine the original problem statement and offer new ideas and solutions. 

Moving further, let's take a look at the case study of Uber in Design thinking.

Case Study - Uber Eats In Design Thinking

Consider an example of Uber, where they wanted to expand their business. They wanted to find customized and affordable food delivery at the tap of a button.

They wanted to launch an app for food lovers to build their social community.

So what did they do? How did Uber Eats become popular?

  • Uber Eats adopted Design Thinking by innovative thinking, where the team first gathered user requirements and collected data. 
  • The team adopted "The Walkable Program". It is an approach where the team physically visits various locations in the city to study the food, people, and culture. In short, the team focuses on defining problems. 
  • The team understood the different perspectives of every user and came up with ideas.
  • They opted for the concept of "Order shadowing", which means the team tests their prototypes by watching their customers' real-world experiences. 
  • After the Order Shadowing method, the team chose "Fireside chats". This method is the process of inviting delivery partners, restaurant workers, and clients to work upon the feedback received on the application. 
  • This Design Thinking process has received a good response because Uber Eats now delivers food in over 80 cities across the world and is still on the rise.

That was all about the key Design Thinking Steps.


In this article titled 'Design Thinking Steps', you saw what Design Thinking is, Design Thinking Steps, and the Uber Eats case study.

Whether you're an expert in design thinking or you're aspiring to break into this exciting industry, enrolling in our Design Thinking Master's program will help you learn all the basic and advanced concepts of Design Thinking.

If you have any questions about the article ‘Design Thinking Process’, please feel free to share them with us in this article's comments section; our experts will get back to you as soon as possible. 

About the Author

Sana AfreenSana Afreen

Sana Afreen is a Senior Research Analyst at Simplilearn and works on several latest technologies. She holds a degree in B. Tech Computer Science. She has also achieved certification in Advanced SEO. Sana likes to explore new places for their cultures, traditions, and cuisines.

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