Design Thinking Process Steps: 5 Stages of Design Thinking 3 Design Thinking Process Steps: 5 Stages of Design Thinking
Review: 4 - Design Thinking Process Steps: 5 Stages of Design Thinking

By using design thinking, you make your product the key to solving user problems. You will work through every client’s pain and make your product truly valuable – people won’t need to give it up. Design thinking you apply has several stages to come through before you actually nail it up. Let’s revise 5 stages in the design thinking process right away.

What is Design Thinking?

Again, design thinking steps are the user-centered approach to product development that involves non-standard problem-solving.

The idea of design thinking was first formed by Herbert A. Simon in The Sciences of the Artificial (1969). Later, this idea was developed at Stanford University, where the Stanford Design Institute was founded, which promoted the idea of design thinking.

We’ve also described the importance of a user-centric approach and business-driven digital design solutions for creating new products in our book Business-Driven Digital Product Design: Graphic Design in Brand Storytelling (2021). No doubt, design thinking is a core.

Design Thinking Process Steps: 5 Stages of Design Thinking 17
Source: Dribbble

The goal of the Design Thinking Process

Design thinking involves immersion in the customer experience, a third-party approach to problem definition, focusing on personal scenarios of behavior and actions. The method assumes a creative but, at the same time, based on common sense, rethinking the users’ problems.

Thus, based on the design thinking process steps, we choose those ideas that are beneficial for our business and the client, which can really be turned into a final product. We create and test prototypes, and in the process of a series of iterations, we come to the release of a product that can solve the client’s problem and, accordingly, will be in demand on the market.

In the end, to prevent the business from failure in the early development stage is among the key goals.

5 Stages of Design Thinking

The work within this approach is divided into 5 large stages. What are the 5 stages of design thinking? – Let’s see.

Design Thinking Stage 1: Empathy

Empathy is the primary exploration & research. At this stage, we figure out what people are doing in order to solve a specific problem. For this, it is important for us to understand why they want to solve it, what their values ​​are, what their emotional and physical needs are. Our goal at this stage is to find answers to the following questions: what is the key problem of our client/product? What information do we need to solve a customer’s problem / make a product perfect?

To find answers to these questions, we use methods such as

  • observation,
  • searching for information in open sources,
  • interviewing,
  • experiments, etc.

At this stage, it is important to distinguish between the user’s desire and their true needs. For example, they may want a car that can travel 300 km per hour. The statement looks unrealistic, given that there are not many roads in the world where you can drive that fast.

If we dig deeper, we will get a person’s need for fast movement, which can be satisfied by buying a plane ticket or high-speed train, etc.

Design Thinking Stage 2: Define

At this stage, we process the information received and form an overall picture. The purpose of focusing is to get the client’s question to which we need to find an answer.

At this stage, we work with the so-called “persona-models” – the characteristic users of the product. We study their lifestyle, behavior, and needs in order to find the optimal solution to the problem.

Design Thinking Stage 3: Ideate

One of the 5 steps of design thinking is brainstorming and idea generation.

We are thinking about ways of solving the problem. We conduct a brainstorming session, where each of the team members expresses as many ideas as they can think of. It is ideal if the team consists of specialists from different fields. The goal is to get as many ideas and approaches as possible.

During  brainstorming sessions, it is important to be guided by the following rules:

  • no criticism;
  • help sprint colleagues develop ideas;
  • consider even the most incredible and fantastic ideas;
  • visualize;
  • but do not stray from the topic;

Try to get each brainstorming participant to suggest at least 10, and preferably 15 ideas is one of the design thinking stages. If there are no worthy ideas, we iterate till we get some and pick the most work.

Now it’s time to identify viable ideas. Remember that the product should be needed by users and liked by you as its creators. So, we select the information that is both business value, useful to consumers, and technically feasible.

Design Thinking Stage 4: Prototype

One of the design thinking phases is prototyping. The prototype is one of the foundations of design thinking. It is also needed to solve the problem and if it did not work out the first time, to generate new ideas.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money, time, and effort to create a prototype. You can make a prototype in several ways:

  • from scratch (paper, board, stickers, glue);
  • using special tools, for example,, There are programs for prototyping mobile applications that allow you to add interactivity to static layouts;
  • create a vector prototype using Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Sketch3, Figma;
  • create prototype scenarios or storyboards, step by step describing each user action in order to solve the problem;
  • finally, use Lego;
  • or professional coder to create an MVP.

Choosing the way to prototype depends on the complexity of the project version, timing, and the speed of the product launch to the market.  5 stages of design thinking methodology help with anything.

Design Thinking Stage 5: Test

As a result, we’ve got the product prototype working that can be tested on real users. During the testing process, you are looking at how your potential user interacts with it. Is the solution you propose right? What difficulties do they face when interacting with the prototype? Watch their actions, set tasks on what to do with the prototype. Ask people what they are not comfortable with in the model, identity what inconveniences there are, etc.

Once you get the feedback, you improve the prototype and test it again. Repeat this until they say the model is ideal in solving problems they have. Now the 5 stages of design thinking are finally through.

Importance of Working on Each Design Thinking Stage

Each of the stages of the design thinking process is important and cannot be simply skipped. Despite the fact that we can apply different stages of design thinking as methodology almost everywhere – from business to personal life, the most commonly used design thinking is:

  • when developing products and services (when conducting design thinking process stages research, for rapid prototyping, when developing MVP);


  • to activate the team’s work – brainstorming, working on mistakes, to establish feedback, involvement;


  • for the development of creative thinking (when solving complex / non-standard tasks, to combat the fear of failure, to develop entrepreneurship, etc).


The use of 5 phases of design thinking when creating a product, allows you to make it unusual and at the same time understandable, attractive, and memorable. Design thinking is at the heart of the work of many corporations. For example, Apple’s successful marketing experience results from a different view of things, followed by the company’s slogan: “Think different.”

Thus, it’s also rather a plus for your UI/UX development team and their expert growths.

Now that you are aware that design thinking consists of 5 phases, you will be able to improve your project flow for sure. Call us if you still feel you need some help at any time!



Want to work with us?

Just tell us about your project, what are your goals, and let's start.
Your name

“Boasting an outstanding quality of work, Fireart Studio implemented web designs that reflected the client's vision. The team was reliable and communicative, making for a smooth collaboration. They successfully delivered an online presence that the client is more than satisfied with."

Design Thinking Process Steps: 5 Stages of Design Thinking 21
Felix Rodriguez

"Prospective users praised the new website’s seamless incorporation of multiple dashboards and beautiful design. FireArt Studio’s collaborative approach, current technology stack, and extensive industry experience made the engagement enjoyable."

Design Thinking Process Steps: 5 Stages of Design Thinking 24
Julian Fagan

"Their deliverables earned positive feedback from the customer and end users. Particular points of praise for Fireart Studio's work included the UX/UI design, illustrations, and animations."

Design Thinking Process Steps: 5 Stages of Design Thinking 27
Bernhard Obenhuber

“The website and branding have met praise from customers, leading to more work for Fireart Studio. The team provides designs, UI/UX, and other services promptly without sacrificing quality. Professional, reliable, and quick to respond to inquiries, they oversee a smooth workflow."

Design Thinking Process Steps: 5 Stages of Design Thinking 30
Garik Goldsheyd

"Even competitors praised the website, which successfully clarified complex concepts and synchronized seamlessly with social media platforms. Although they could make more structured recommendations, FineArt Studio's affordable prices and round-the-clock availability made them a great resource."

Design Thinking Process Steps: 5 Stages of Design Thinking 33
Marcus Hendrikson

"FireArt Studio has a talented team that is skilled in design and illustration. Their work perfectly captured the desired look and feel and was very well received by the client. Their communication was also wonderful despite time zone differences."

Design Thinking Process Steps: 5 Stages of Design Thinking 36
Todd Irwin