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How to Use Design Thinking for Product Design

How to Use Design Thinking for Product Design

The theory of design thinking is widely discussed as a key problem-solving methodology for businesses. Design thinking is frequently used in the process of innovative product design. The objective is to prioritize user needs above a product’s specifications or assigned purpose. As a result, business teams can better understand the value of the product they’re designing.  

Design thinking may reveal a subset of user needs that are either created or only partially referenced in an existing product. This opens up an opportunity to craft add-ons that can be included in an existing product or made to form a new product. When design thinking is properly implemented, it can generate increased interest for the product. 

For businesses interested in the design thinking process, here is how you can use the theory for your product design. 

Objective Data 

In design thinking, the data has to be as objective as possible. This is, of course, data generated by the user. As a product designer, you have several ways to generate user insights, including surveys, interviews with your target audience, and eventual usability tests. Gather the data as frequently and in as large a quantity as possible. 

After collecting the data, a product designer has to find the need they are serving. Find the unmet need or the need perhaps hidden underneath the surface. A product is most desirable when the product’s a problem-solver. Design thinking only works if it is addressing the unmet need of the user in some capacity. 

Needs and Emotional States 

Apple doesn’t wake up every morning and think, “What product do we want to create today?” Their approach to business for decades has been understanding the user’s needs. In design thinking, ask yourself what products or features would benefit the user. 

In addition to understanding user behavior, there is also the emotional component. A great product often resonates at an emotional level with the user. It doesn’t just fulfill a need but there’s attachment involved. This encourages repeat use. Throughout the processes of design thinking, consider the ways in which your solution serves an emotional purpose. 

Get Innovative 

Innovation doesn’t happen by staying within the parameters of what’s possible. Set aside all assumptions and limitations. What your user wants and what’s right for a user will guide you to a product that may or may not be possible. As product designers, you can then adapt the solution to a workable prototype. 

Keep in mind that every idea brings with it fresh energy. Get all those perspectives out on the table. Don’t just explore a singular solution. Pursue the route to every idea. Put it all out there, evaluate it, and allow for thinking that isn’t typical. Design thinking doesn’t always produce the result we think it will. The best idea has got to win out, and the only way it does is if all ideas become heard. 


Society likes to hold up individuals as innovators but oftentimes, innovation is not possible sans teamwork. You need to hear from customers, engineers, developers, marketers, and management to craft a product that meets all the standards. A product has to justify its existence through sales.  

The design thinking theory can be studied and learned through courses. Arrange a design thinking workshop for all the relevant teams in your company. Not only will this workshop educate employees about design thinking, but it can be a great opportunity to build teamwork and collaboration. 


When creating a solution through design thinking, prototyping is a necessity. Prototyping puts your product in front of real customers. It uses real-life experience to validate or invalidate hypotheses.  

As daunting as producing a prototype might be, it generates necessary feedback about your product. You don’t want to take the risk of skipping this step, working from assumption rather than evidence. During prototyping and testing, expect to encounter problems that, through design thinking, lead to profitable solutions. 


In arriving at a solution, you may discover there are a whole new set of problems to contend with. Can the solutions to these problems be rung through design thinking and incorporated into a revised product design? If not, is there an alternative way to resolve these issues without compromising the solution you’ve arrived at?  

Look at how the design of the iPhone grew over time. As user behavior changed and new solutions presented themselves, revisions were made. Consider how you might be able to revise before your product gets into the hands of the user. Based on feedback, you can also make revisions after the product has launched. 

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by Marissa Collins //

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.