UX Crash Course: Stupid Question 7 of 30

Alright, so now you understand what UX is and you have convinced your boss that you should do it. Then you get your first project and someone tells you to use “Design Thinking”.

“Is ‘Design Thinking’ just thinking about design?”


Just starting the Crash Course? Start here!


Design and Art are different in one specific way: Design must solve a problem or serve a functional purpose. You might sell products like Ebay, or make tasks more efficient, like Trello, or stream all your favorite high-quality films, like PornHub.

If you’re just visualizing what you see in your head, or just trying to get an emotional reaction from the viewer, that’s art, not design. You ain’t solvin’ shit.


The stupid answer:

No. Dreaming of getting likes on Dribbble is not design thinking.


The real answer:

Design Thinking is actually a way of thinking to help generate ideas and solve problems. Not what you think about.


Why this isn’t a stupid question:
Design doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Did you know that the word “design” originally came from scientists and engineers? It actually has nothing to do with the way things look, and it has existed much longer than computers.

Design is problem-solving. Not just what you see at the end.

Design Thinking is a way of thinking outside your normal routines and assumptions.

When you sit down to design something — especially if you’re solving problems with a group of other people — your normal day-to-day way of thinking is actually not that productive.

You might be biased, or closed-minded, or you might not have enough experience to understand the problem.

You might be afraid of having “stupid” ideas. You might immediately try to make your first idea work even though it isn’t that good. Or you might think of design as the “beauty” of your work rather than the result of your work.

Design Thinking is the process of actively thinking about generating ideas, trying to new ways of thinking about the problem, and working together to make sure you get the best solution. Not just the first solution.


Try this at home:

Spend time analyzing the problem before solving it. Not a few minutes. Like, days or months.

Take all the information you analyzed, for all the sources, and try to summarize it.

Brainstorm ideas alone before you discuss them as a group.

Think of all the ways your ideas are the same.

Think of all the ways your ideas are different.

Assume that your solution can be simpler, and try to simplify it.

Design. Then re-design. Then re-design it again.

Define your problems in concrete ways.

Deconstruct your problem until you understand what it is made of.

Do it like improv: always say yes, and see where ideas take you.

Be prepared to start again.

Give yourself some restrictions to work within. Restrictions breed creativity.

Avoid truisms and metaphors… make your solutions concrete.

Include users everywhere.

Draw your thoughts as mind maps or flow charts or word lists or storyboards.

Right down 25 other ways you could have solved it.


There are hundreds of different “methods” you can use in design thinking. 

Some will work for you, and some won’t. 

The goal isn’t to find the “right” way of designing. The goal is to look at a problem from every angle — even when it feels wrong — instead of relying on your first intuition (which is probably wrong).


Next we will answer the question: “What are the rules of UX?”