Learn Design Thinking

The resources here will help you learn, understand and practice design methods and mindsets.

By going through all of them, you’ll get additional tools in your toolkit to pick from and use to solve hard problems and create innovative solutions.

If you need any clarification or help as you go through the resources here, feel free to reply to this topic using the Reply button at the bottom of this topic.

This track is best done in pairs of 2. As you will need a partner to go through it.

Go through each learning resource from the top, one by one, as they have been arranged in a flow and with a rhythm that unlocks and builds the design mindset within you.

Two pencils on a yellow paper - Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Generally, design thinking is defined as a 5-step process:

  1. Empathize
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test ideas and test prototypes

I will help you learn these processes by taking you through short tasks and summarised guides within an exercise. This exercise is redesigning the gift-giving experience for a partner.

We are NOT redesigning the gift, we are just designing the experience of gift-giving for your partner.

You can always pick a different experience/challenge and apply the same steps to come up with a useful solution. To pick a different experience/challenge look at the challenges/difficulties around you and pick one.

For example, you can pick your going to work experience and use the steps below to redesign it.

As a point of note, whoever you are designing for becomes the user and they are the ones to answer the questions in this guide below. So if you are designing a solution for yourself like your going to work experience, you become your user and answer the questions in this guide below.

For the design thinking exercise we will complete different tasks to learn each step in the design thinking process, and on completing these tasks you would have learnt different design methods, abilities and mindsets you can use to create innovative solutions.

:bulb: Tasks in this guide will have a checkbox next to them to let you know you should work on it. No need to click on the checkbox, it is just to indicate a task.


Get a partner you can ask a few questions. This can be your friend, a colleague, your sibling or a random stranger.

  • This partner will be your ‘user’ for the whole of this exercise.

Record your notes

  • Get a pen and note or a recorder to write out and record their responses to your questions. This will tell you more about the experience you are trying to improve.

Noteworthy points

The most important part of designing for someone is to gain empathy for that person. This is where researching comes in.

To gain empathy for your user, you have to to understand them. To understand them, you have to research on them. You use the insights you gain from the user research to design and create.

To research, you interview people who experience or have experienced what you want to improve on.

They might not have a problem with it, but in interviewing them you gain insight and learn ways you can create an enjoyable experience by gaining empathy for them.

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Here we look through the point of view/perspective of your user, because to design or solve a problem for them, we have to understand how they see and feel it. To do this, we will interview them informally.

Ask your partner about the last time they gave a gift, what happened? How was it?

  • How did they come up with the idea for the gift? What was difficult about finding and giving this gift? What was hard/easy about finding and giving the gift?

  • In asking, try to understand what happened and why it happened. Take note of things they find interesting or surprising.

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Research some more

After the first interviews, follow up on things that you found interesting. You are going to ask more questions and dig deeper.

Ask more questions to dig deeper on the answers they gave that you found interesting.

  • Try to ask till you see/hit an emotion of pain as they answer you or try to answer you. Emotion is very key in design. It is by easing people pains that you design good solutions.

As you ask more questions, try to dig for feelings and emotion. Ask WHY? often.

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Here you define the problem or challenge the user is facing. Knowing and understand a problem is the first step to solving it. To do this, we will use the findings/information from the interviews and research to define a problem statement.

Capture findings from research interviews

To capture findings and insights from your research complete the following tasks.

Write out the Needs List.

  • Based off your notes, write out separately the things your partner was trying to accomplish by giving a gift. What were they trying to do by going through that experience. What does gift giving do for them. Needs should be verbs.

  • Do this for about 4 mins. It can be less or more, depending on the time you have available.

Write out the Insights List.

  • Based off your notes, write out separately the things that stood out to you as you did the interviews. These are the things you noticed would be helpful in improving that experience for your user. This is the Insights List.
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Define problem statement

This is where we state/describe what exactly the user’s problem is.

Define problem statement

  • Create a problem statement by combining the items in your Needs List with items in your Insights List. You can use this template:

UserName [replace with user’s name/description] needs/wants a way to _____________________ ______________________________________ [write out user need], surprisingly // because // but [choose one that flows best to include in the sentence] _________________________________ _________________________________________ [write insight].

An example of this is: Ali needs a way to make the most of his time, but he doesn’t know how to manage his time, he doesn’t even know people can manage their time.

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This is where we conceive possible solutions to the defined problem/challenge of the user.

Write out possible digital solutions, products or services based off findings

If you need help doing this, watch/read through the following resources:

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Test ideas

Although testing is the last step, it is an ongoing process that comes in and cuts across the different stages of the design thinking process.

Show and walk your user through the different ideas/solutions you gathered or have gathered and get feedback on why your ideas works for them, or why it doesn’t work.

  • You are presenting this solution not to validate your solution, but to collect feedback, hear what your potential user feels about the solution and improve on it.


Here we create the initial/preliminary version of our solution to show our users something more visual with which they can better relate with.

Use findings from the initial test/feedback to create a sketch of what your digital solution will be.

  • Read this guide on UX Sketching for tips on how to sketch and improve your sketches
  • You can use marvelapp.com for free to sketch an interactive digital wireframe which gives more life to your idea

Test prototype

Show and walk your user through the sketched solution and get feedback on why your solution works for them, or why it doesn’t work.

  • You are presenting this solution not to validate your solution, but to collect feedback, hear what your potential user feels about the solution and improve on it.
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Improve prototype

As you test, you’ll get more and more useful feedback to use in improving your prototype, but do not spend too much time here, you should as quickly as possible get real people using it as a real product.

After working on your design thinking, you have to learn how to present business ideas by taking the Learn Business Idea Presentation Course.