What is Design Thinking?

There are many different names going around – Design Thinking, Human-Centred Design, Co-Design etc. There are a lot of similarities between the different methods, but also real differences in terms of their focus and outputs. 

I’m not even going to try to give you all the answers here. You can search the web for thousands of sites and articles with perspectives on the different methods. 

My approach is to embrace it all, and learn as much as I can about all the different methods, tools and techniques. Then choose the right one in the moment rather than force a problem or challenge to fit a certain way of doing things.

I often use the term Human-Centred Design Thinking as a way to roll it all together. 

At a high level what the different approaches have in common is they:

• bring some structure to the process
• use empathy and put people at the centre
• develop contextual understanding early – discover as much as possible early
• take an iterative approach – learning while doing

Below is a visual explanation I made based on the models from Interaction Design Foundation and the British Design Council.

I’ve added in the stages “Prepare” and “Embed” and some descriptions to describe what’s happening.