Design Thinking: The Journey from Empathy to End-Product


With the advancement of technology, humans are swimming in the pool of innovation and designs. Each day there are more than hundreds of new applications and software that are launched in the market for the users to consume.

So with innumerable choices, it is obvious that we as users will go for the ones that appeal to us at some personal level. The user experience has much to do with the design of an application. So if you want to create a digital solution that reaches a good number of audience, start by working on your design.

Over the years new concepts have emerged in the UX design industry. They have been rigorous with their user analysis and developing tools and processes to get deep insight into the users’ minds.

One such influential practice that can help designers understand what works better for the users is the Design Thinking process. This approach is gradually becoming so popular that even the industry tech giants like Apple, Google, Samsung are rapidly adopting Design Thinking for an improved user experience and better designs.

It’s popularity doesn’t cease there. Major universities Stanford, Harvard and MIT have added Design Thinking teaching lists. 

But what is Design Thinking really? And is it so in demand? In this blog we will discuss just that. So without further ado, let’s start with an introduction to Design Thinking.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is an iterative approach that helps designers to understand the end user. Focusing on the users you’re creating for, leads you to develop better products, services, and internal processes.

At the same time it also works as a problem-solving approach. It helps us in questioning the problems and implications of our product design.

This approach lets us re-frame all the problems in a human-centric way so that we are able to find solutions that are more appealing to the users while also providing us with a hands-on approach when it comes to prototyping and testing.

But most importantly, Design Thinking lets us empathize with the end users.

Empathy: An Important Element of Design Thinking

Design Thinking methodology revolves around empathy, that is our ability as humans to see, feel and experience things that others are going through.

Through empathy we see the world through their eyes and although we can never fully experience what they see or feel, we can always attempt to try and get as close as possible. This is only possible when we put our own ideas and perception aside.

Today, empathy is a crucial aspect of any business growth. For any product to be successful, it has to be viable and feasible. But one key parameter that is oftentimes ignored is that it has to be desirable.

And the only way to design a product that is desirable is by understanding the end-user’s needs, experiences and preferences. That is when empathy comes into play.

You can never design a solution that is created without empathy. One such example of that statement is the commercial failure of Google Glass, Google’s first wearable product in 2013. So much so that Google has effectively adopted the Design Thinking approach since then.

Different Stages of Design Thinking

There are 5 simple stages that form a design thinking framework of trial and validation. This framework provides the entire development team with the information based on which they can create just the right and desirable product for the end users.

1. Empathize

We have already established that empathy is the crucial first step of any product development journey. This stage is completely user centered and lets you understand them, who they are, what are their problems, wants, needs etc. This stage will mainly contain brainstorming sessions where you will define all the important questions and try to find answers to those keeping the end user in mind.

2. Define

In the second stage you organize all the conclusions you arrived at during the brainstorming. This stage will also let you focus on your own research and come up with effective problem solving methods.

Apart from the information you have collected based on your target audience, it’s also necessary that you do an appropriate bit of market research as well, based on your competitors. Many apps fulfill the end user needs but only a few stand out.

3. Ideate

The third stage is where you put all your information to the right use and come up with the idea of your end product. If you have performed the starting two stages on mark, the third stage will come easy to you. With all the information collected in the first two phases, by now you will have a crystal clear idea of what your product will look like.

So put your user story map to use and bring your idea to life.

4. Prototype

The second last stage of the Design Thinking approach is the prototyping phase. Here you come up with a clickable mockup of your actual product so that users can use it.

A better approach to prototyping is building an MVP or the Minimum Viable Product. An MVP has enough features for the early users based on which you get all the viable feedback you require for future development and corrections.

5. Test

The final stage is the testing stage. You launch your prototype or MVP and let your target audience experience it. In this stage you are strictly focused on the functionalities of your MVP, and how users experience these functionalities.

This stage lets you gain the essential feedback and you can create the final product accordingly. And even though you have a well defined final solution, there’s always room for improvement.

Final Words

Today Design thinking is an essential part of product development and implementation. Design Thinking can also be defined as thinking out of the box as with the ever evolving design ecosystem, designers are constantly looking for new ways of thinking of active problem solving.

The basic intention is always to develop improved products by knowing and analyzing how users interact with our solutions. Design Thinking opens the door to better and improved user experiences.

At Applify, we know the value of user experience and what it takes to develop an out of box design. And that is why our designers always dig a bit deeper and use the best practices to ensure an impeccable user experience. Have an idea? Start a conversation with us today!