Design Thinking is a process of creative problem solving in a way that enables us overcoming our own bias. There are different stages in this process with different goals and outcomes.
The first part is about discovery, observing, asking questions, getting valuable insights directly from your users. This is about divergent thinking, learning how your users think, what are their motivations, context, obstacles and their perspective. Understanding these requires empathy, that is why this phase's name is "Empathize". It is key to keep in mind that UX design is never about our own experience, it is about the users'.
It should be highlighted that many different methods can be used in a Design Thinking process, but one thing is a must: observing and asking real human beings, so conducting User interviews and a Contextual Inquiry is really important.
After collecting as much insight as possible, it is time to organize and synthesize the date we have. This phase is called "Define". By applying convergent thinking, we start to go down form the peak of our first mountain to reach a point where we can identify
The next phase is again a divergent process: now that we have problems to work on, we can start brainstorming, and generate as many ideas as possible. Crazy ideas are great, at this point we don't think about any limitations. This phase is called "Ideate". Sketching is a great way to express many-many ideas quickly. First we only sketch ideas, concepts, and later we start creating higher fidelity Sketches, then Wireframes and Prototypes. Storyboarding is also a great method to use at this point.
"Prototype" is the fourth phase, which is about communicating our design solutions with the our partners and with the users. The main goal of Prototyping is to test our ideas quickly, then iterate. So the fifth step is "Test" (e.g. Usability Testing or Remote Testing).
Now, the interesting thing is that the process of Design Thinking is not linear: after Testing, we go back to the phase we need to. If we find a new problem we have not yet discussed and analyzed, we go back to for example Ideation. Doing many consecutive rounds of Prototyping and Testing really helps to find a good solution for the design problem, and refine it as much as possible.
These steps form a process which can be described by a mountain with two peaks, where ups and down are representing the divergent and convergent parts.
After these five stages, the next thing to do is implementing what we've achieved, so the next phase is developing . While we are not developers, we understand the key concepts needed to communicate with the developer team effectively. And finally, after your digital product is ready to launch, we can prepare for the last (and at the same time the first) stage: learning how it works, tracking its progress. Based on the data we collect, we can start prioritizing the new goals, planning iterations and so on. That is why we believe in long-term partnerships with our clients.