Next time you meet a UX designer, ask them to describe what they do for a living. Not necessarily because UX design is extremely interesting—it is, but I’m biased. Ask because, unlike most professions, UX designers almost always have an idiosyncratic and evolving description of their position. This discrepancy arises not because we designers inherently possess broadly differing beliefs about what UX design encompasses; it’s because UX design can be used for so many different things.

If you do ask a UX designer to explain what they do, you will undoubtedly hear repetitive buzzwords (user research, usability testing, A/B testing, prototyping, iteration, and accessibility, etc.). However, there is one unanimous central theme underlying the heart of every proficient user experience designer’s work that doesn’t always make it into the quick description of the job: solving complex problems with the end user in mind.

That complex problem solving is what I’m going to talk about today. In this guide, I’ll show you:

  • What design thinking is
  • Why it’s useful for you
  • How to apply design thinking

Here we go.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is the most widely accepted method for problem-solving among UX designers. The design thinking process was formalized as an educational and professional tool in the 1990s by David Kelley and Tim Brown of IDEO. Similar to the scientific method typically taught early on in elementary school, design thinking…

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