Design Thinking for website UX is developing the website to be centred around the user or in this case the customer. It incorporates elements that will help the customer navigate the site and improve their experience. Many companies are overly precious about their website design, but the main priority is to allow customers to find information and make purchases,  so the design should focus on the user to give them an easy and valuable experience.

Of course, it’s not just as simple as thinking from the viewpoint of the user, it’s about brainstorming solutions and adopting a systematic way of prototyping and measuring results. If you need ideas for designs check out a bunch of website design templates offered by Wix and split by industry type. Getting some inspiration before you start could be helpful, just so that you have an idea of what you want your website to look like. And of course, make sure you apply the Design Thinking principles when creating your site.

Let us look at the technical elements of the Design Thinking approach to web design.

5 Steps to Designing your Site with Design Thinking

The origins of the Design Thinking approach come from Nobel Prize Laureate Herbert Simon who is considered the father of Design Thinking and first conceived the model in 1969. His version contained 7 stages but now there are many different approaches that have evolved from that original model. They range from 3 stages to 7 but for this article, we will talk about the 5-stage model that the influential Stanford Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design uses.

1.    Empathise

This is the information gathering stage and probably the most crucial element. In this stage, considerable time should be spent talking to the true users of your final website; the customers. It requires empathy of their requirements and problems and throwing away any assumptions the designers or company may have about their product and how it is bought and consumed. Only then can the brand gain the insight required to make a website that will be centred around the customer.

Before you can move onto the next stage, you must think and question as if you are the customer, why do I come to the website, what do I use it for, and what are the underlying motives of consuming your information or product?

2.    Define

The second stage is Defining the problem. From the data and insights, you have gathered from the Empathise stage you are now able to define what the problem or problems are. This should be viewed and constructed from the customer’s point of view. For example, don’t define the problem as “targeting a new market segment of pregnant women for our food products” as your objective/problem, a better construct would be “pregnant women need foods and supplements with nutrition to support their health during pregnancy.”

Until you have the problem clearly defined, you cannot start to properly come up with ideas for the next stage.

3.    Ideate

Start coming up with ideas and solutions to your problem. Ask stimulating questions like “How can we educate pregnant women about supplements in our product range that will help with their child’s physical and brain development”. Again, think from the user’s perspective, do they need testimonials and scientific research to understand and trust your brand? There are many techniques you can use at this stage to give you as many ideas as possible. Use Brainstorm, Worst Possible Idea or Brainwrite, for example, to facilitate idea generation and from the raft of ideas, you can identify some ideas for testing.

4.    Prototype

Don’t go all out with the build until you have built some smaller versions or prototypes of your solutions. These should be scaled down or lower-cost versions of the website or features of the website. Remember this is the experimental stage to identify the best of the ideas you generated at the Ideate stage. It will help you rule out solutions that are unworkable or unwieldy and it may require going back to the ideation stage if some of these solutions don’t work. But once you have some more solid ideas then you can go into the full build and test stage.

5.    Test

By evaluating and testing each of your shortlisted prototypes, you can arrive at a more effective website. This is the final stage but some things may need complete reworking in which case you go back to Define and Ideate, some may just require small tweaks, and some will be ready to build out. It is an iterative process until you get to a working solution that you can scale up and put live. Go back to your users and ask them to user test your site. This is the stage where their feedback is invaluable and shows you how well you understand their requirements from the Empathise stage.

The model is meant to be used flexibly, although we have set it out as 5 linear stages above, it should be treated as a more fluid process. Designers may jump back and forth between stages and different teams can work on the stages in parallel. Ultimately it is an iterative process that can bring up new ideas at any stage. It can uncover problems or reframe problems in any of the 5 stages. Actually, one of the benefits of this design methodology is that information can be acquired at later stages e.g. Test and prototype and then be fed back to empathise and ideate to redefine what you understand about your customers and what they need from the website.


There you go, the technical breakdown of what using the Design Thinking approach in website design involves. Its popularity has grown and large corporations like Google and Apple have applied it in their businesses to solve problems for users of their products and websites. Think about this design model as a collaboration between web designers and end customers to better provide a website that real users will find useful. After all, putting the customer first is the whole point of your business and if your website can better serve these customers, they are more likely to transact on the website, advocate for your brand and promote it to friends and family.