What is Design Thinking?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 10, 2023

3 minutes

Product Management

Design Thinking is a problem-solving approach that puts the needs and desires of users at the forefront. It is a creative and iterative process that involves understanding users, challenging assumptions, and exploring innovative solutions. Design Thinking can be applied to various aspects of product management, such as user experience design, feature development, and product strategy.


Here are a few examples of how Design Thinking can be applied in Saas product management:

  1. User Research: Conducting interviews and surveys to gain deep insights into users' needs, motivations, and pain points. This helps in understanding the user's perspective and designing products that truly cater to their requirements.

  2. Prototyping: Creating low-fidelity prototypes to quickly visualize and test ideas with users. This allows product managers to gather feedback early in the development process and make informed decisions based on user reactions.

  3. Iterative Design: Continuously refining and improving the product based on user feedback and data analysis. Design Thinking encourages an iterative approach where multiple iterations lead to better products that closely align with user expectations.


Design Thinking is crucial in Saas product management for several reasons:

  1. User-Centric Approach: It helps in understanding the needs, preferences, and pain points of users, ensuring that the product is designed to solve their problems effectively. By empathizing with users, product managers can create more valuable and user-friendly solutions.

  2. Innovation: Design Thinking promotes creative thinking and encourages exploring unconventional ideas. It enables product managers to think beyond the obvious solutions and come up with innovative features or approaches that can differentiate their Saas product in the market.

  3. Reduced Risk: By involving users early in the design process, potential issues or usability problems can be identified and addressed before development efforts are invested. This reduces the risk of building a product that doesn't meet user expectations or fails to solve their problems.

How to Use Design Thinking

To apply Design Thinking effectively in Saas product management, follow these steps:

  1. Empathize: Develop a deep understanding of your users by conducting user research, such as interviews, surveys, or observing their behaviors. Gather insights into their goals, challenges, and motivations.

  2. Define: Clearly define the problem or challenge you are trying to solve. Use the insights gained from empathy to frame the problem statement from the user's perspective.

  3. Ideate: Brainstorm and generate a wide range of ideas to address the defined problem. Encourage creativity and avoid judgment during this phase. The focus should be on quantity rather than quality.

  4. Prototype: Create low-fidelity prototypes or mockups to visualize and test your ideas. Prototyping allows you to gather early feedback from users and iterate on your designs before investing significant resources in development.

  5. Test: Test your prototypes with real users to gather feedback and validate your ideas. Analyze the results and iterate on your design based on the learnings.

  6. Iterate: Continuously refine and improve your product based on user feedback and data analysis. Iterate through the design thinking process multiple times to create a user-centered and innovative solution.

Useful Tips

Here are some useful tips to enhance your use of Design Thinking in Saas product management:

  • Involve cross-functional teams, including designers, developers, and stakeholders, in the Design Thinking process to gain diverse perspectives and expertise.
  • Foster a culture of experimentation and learning from failures. Encourage your team to take risks and embrace uncertainty during the ideation and prototyping phases.
  • Keep an open mind and challenge assumptions. Design Thinking is about exploring new possibilities and questioning the status quo.
  • Embrace feedback and iterate quickly. Design Thinking is an iterative process, and each iteration brings you closer to a successful solution.
  • Use visual tools, such as journey maps or empathy maps, to communicate and share insights with your team and stakeholders effectively.


Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that focuses on understanding users' needs and creating innovative solutions.
The key principles of design thinking include empathy, defining the problem, ideation, prototyping, and testing.
Design thinking helps Saas product management by enabling teams to better understand user needs, identify opportunities for improvement, and create user-centric solutions.
The design thinking process typically consists of five stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.
To apply design thinking, start by gaining a deep understanding of your users' needs and challenges. Then, define the problem statement, brainstorm ideas, create prototypes, and test them with users.
Some common misconceptions about design thinking include that it is only for designers, that it is a linear process, and that it only involves aesthetics.
Important skills for design thinking in Saas product management include empathy, problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, and prototyping.
Design thinking helps improve user experience by placing the user at the center of the design process, understanding their needs, and creating solutions that address those needs effectively.
Yes, design thinking can be applied to both small and large Saas companies. It is a versatile approach that can benefit companies of any size.
Yes, there are various tools and frameworks available to assist with design thinking, such as the double diamond model, personas, journey maps, and prototyping tools.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben is the founder of ProductLift. I employ a decade of consulting experience from Ernst & Young to maximize clients' ROI on new Tech developments. I now help companies build better products

Table of contents

  1. Examples
  2. Importance
  3. How to Use Design Thinking
  4. Useful Tips
  5. Related Terms

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