What is Design Thinking?


What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a proven, repeatable process for problem-solving, creativity, and innovation.

Also referred to as human-centered design, design thinking is a framework comprised of a series of steps and associated methods, and it is accompanied by core mindsets.

It helps teams approach problems with the end-user in mind. It involves developing empathy for museum visitors, discovering opportunities, generating user-centered solutions, and building and testing prototypes.

The Steps

The steps we teach in our workshops, which are based on the Stanford d.school approach, are:

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test

Why does this matter for museums?

Museum visitors increasingly expect programs, services, and experiences that are intuitive, responsive, and well-designed. The design thinking process can transform the way a museum or cultural institution develops digital or analog products, visitor experiences, and services by giving staff the analytical, creative, and intuitive techniques and tools to develop visitor-centered offerings.

Design thinking is a close cousin to many other user-centered methodologies, and shares many traits—such as an emphasis on iteration and testing—with the Agile and Lean methodologies. It’s a complement to evaluation and quantitative research, and provides the human stories and insights behind user data.