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How Do I Prototype Using Design Thinking Principles

Learn to use design thinking to develop and test your ideas


Form “idea webs” by starting with one word and branching out related words and then words related to those words. This is a form of divergent brainstorming. Convergent brainstorming involves taking disparate ideas and combining them.

divergent: arrows pointing away from center, convergent: arrows pointing towards center

Reframing the Question

Consider how the way you frame the question will affect the solution you come up with.

Exercise: If you were asked to "design a vase" what would your solution look like? 
Alternatively, if you were asked to "Design a way to display flowers in your home" how might that change your response? 


When approaching your task, consider if broadening or narrowing your area of focus could yield a better answer. 

Idea Building

  • Try to anticipate the needs and mindset of your specific audience
  • Narrow your focus to a manageable piece of the issue
  • Make lists
  • Sketch things out
  • Use post-its to switch up layouts (button placement etc)

Tips for Giving and Receiving Feedback

Idea Presenter:

  • Provide reviewer with specific areas of focus
  • Try not to influence the reviewer's response with the wording of your questions


  • Initial reaction – Positive, negative, neutral?
  • Ease of Use - What needs clarification?
  • Focus on the requested areas of feedback
  • Point out both what worked well for you and what needs improvement

Feeling Stuck?

If you've reached a point in your project where you feel like you've hit a wall and aren't making progress, try the following:

  • Explore the problem from a fresh angle
    • What if my friend or family member came to me for advice on this issue?
    • What if I had a whole team who could help me build my prototype and was not limited by time or money?
  • Add constraints
    • How can I complete a design cycle in one month?
    • Can I teach this topic in under 5 minutes?
    • Design a solution with these 3 materials?
  • Consider your audience and gather more information
  • Think out loud
  • Collect feedback
  • Set it aside and come back to it (“Give your eggs time to hatch!”)