Design Thinking: 10 Essential Tips For Startups

Empathy is the first and most important step in the design thinking process.

Design thinking tips for startups - cover imageDesign Thinking is a solution-based approach that focuses on finding what your potential users really need, a process that is essential when designing your user experience. While design thinking was strictly used by the design community, its use is now extended to fields such as communication and business. 

Use the principles of Design Thinking to address problems in your startup that are not well defined because it reframes these types of problems in human-centric ways, allowing you to focus on what’s most important for your users or customers. Follow the tips of Design Thinking Expert Loubna Ibrahim to optimize your problem-solving process: 

Do your research

That’s how it starts, continues and never ends. Different research types and techniques should be used throughout your journey.  

Know your audience

Empathy is the first and most important step in the design thinking process, knowing who is your audience is critical in order to make sure that you’re launching the right product for the right audience!

Don’t forget the limitations

While researching your audience, you need to always look at their needs, wants & wishes, but this is not enough, as you should also know their constraints and limitations. Knowing the audience’s limitation not only will help in designing the product but also your revenue model.  

Solve a real problem

Focus on one real problem you want to solve, and everything else will follow. You will only be able to identify a real problem after being in your audience’s shoes.

Co-create with your audience

Ask your customers or end users to help you! You can run a short ideation workshop with key people to design your solution. Co-creating the solution with your potential consumers will minimize your risks of failure. In fact, if you’re solving a real problem, your end users are technically in pain, therefore, they know all the in and outs of the problem and they’ll show you the right way.

Collaborate with your team

Teamwork is essential, the more you involve your team members, the better. For this, you can bring in all your team members to work on the solution, whereas they’re engineers, marketers, designers, or business people. You would be surprised how much your team can help! 

Keep it simple

“A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.” – Martin Leblanc. This quote sums it perfectly – simplicity is key! But be careful here, because simplicity is subjective and varies from an audience to another.  

Test as soon as you can

The sooner you test the idea in the cheapest ways, the better. Early testing saves time, and when we say early, we basically mean the next 72 hours after ideation, which means you have 72 hours to decide if you have to keep on with your idea or kill it. Same goes for features.

Quick additional tipTest one feature at a time!

Adapt – always

One solution never fits all. That’s why you always need to adapt. It’s a never ending loop!

Research once again

In other words, research should become your second nature, without research, none of the above can be achieved. Enjoy the process, and keep on repeating, refining, and adapting it based on the knowledge you acquire throughout this journey!



Loubna Ibrahim

/About the writer/

Loubna Ibrahim

Loubna is a human-centered design consultant, she started her tech career in 2014 and founded her own tech startup. Two years later, she received a UX and design thinking for tech products training from Google. Being very passionate and an advocate of the Design Thinking process, Loubna went back to become a Google Trainer for UX masterclass in 2017. Since then, she has given many talks and workshops in the field, mentored and advised startups as well as clients. She is currently leading the Design Thinking Lab at Ideatolife, in addition to being engaged in the civic society through support for women and youth’s place in technology. Loubna also gives back to her alma mater through free lectures and workshops on Design Thinking and User Experience.

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