Who started design thinking? And where is it heading? In our Long Read, I feel design thinking’s growth from a niche activity to a mainstream practice. Pulling examples from the worlds of technology, public sector and finance, there is an endless argument   that we need design thinking and designers more than ever.

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The evolution of Design thinking 

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There’s no birthday for design thinking. Despite important landmarks and significant claims and contributions from designers, projects and agencies like us, there was no big bang. In the old days, the term “design thinking” described the techniques and methodologies employed by designers to create abstract services and experiences. Now, it’s much broader in scope and application.

Design thinking was present a long time ago in any design education. The system of analysis and synthesis, sketches, computer renderings and models made in workshops was all about customer insight, concept creation, prototype-building and testing. These are the same processes and techniques that nowadays we call design thinking.

But in my very first job, I noticed that the business world was actually very disconnected from customers and design practice. The prominence was more to the engineering team rather than the end user.  Earlier design briefs (or I should call it User Interface briefs) focused on features and market research instead of user insight and testing. Unconscious decisions were made, resulting in marketing that over-promised and an operationally focused customer service.

The spread of design thinking


Geoffrey Moore’s Law of Technology Adoption describes how an initial idea is spread by visionary early adopters (good example is Facebook began as Harvard sophomore and early adopters made it big). The idea traverses the “chasm” of slow adoption and then grows dramatically when those applications and contexts show evidence of success.

Design thinking began with the spread of design practice. When the pioneering agencies began to talk about service design and design thinking, early adopter organisations were quick to see the benefits. Economies moved towards creating value from services as well as products.

But for many years, design thinking remained the domain of the early adopters, because it was seen as threatening traditional, expert-based thought. It wasn’t until we created sustainable service and design thinking practices and the mainstream started believing that such “soft” techniques actually worked that design thinking took off.

Fast-forward to the end of 2015, when tech services giant IBM launched its design thinking methodology and recruited 1,000 designers worldwide, though they burnt close to $100 million in just a year and scraped everything later. But across the globe, design has become an important integrated element within companies and organisations.

Design thinking – in Technology

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Technology is an obvious application for design thinking. As a central part of our lives, technology has to be accessible, usable and appropriate to people other than the clever few who developed it. During my time at GreeneStep Technologies, the techniques of usable interface allowed me to shape the strategy and delivery of technology projects. Usability and beauty was a driver of revenue, not a “nice to have”. And this helped companies see the real business benefits and allowed them to successfully exploit the scale and reach of technology. The future of big ideas such as the Internet of Things is as much about trust and customer approval as it is about big data and networks.

…In financial services

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The interest in design methodologies in business has been phenomenal. I am as surprised as anyone to find that at Barclays, design practice and design thinking are at the heart of how they develop digital banking services. The same goes with Fidelity USA, How many of us know they have a humongous UX centre where close to 60 creative minds put design thinking to work.

Barclays set up a centralised design office four years ago. Through a series of industry-leading products such as Pingit and Barclays Mobile Banking, it led the way in digital banking. Design is now integrated into every business – and designers are in great demand.

But with digitisation comes opportunity to do more than designing screens. Deconstructing processes, removing bureaucracy, putting the user at the heart of process and designing their service experience all change the nature of how we engage with customers.

…And in the public sector

It’s a lesson learnt by government too (Not to the fullest yet).

For the public sector, design thinking has been particularly attractive and at odds with traditional practice. Whether it’s obesity or mass transport, engaging with societal problems and driving real behaviour change is tough.

Customer empathy

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I am amazed every day at how keen business leaders and managers are to use the tools of design and user research in projects and strategy. And it’s no fad. In a post-innovation world, where blindly pursuing new ideas is no longer the primary objective, empathy with customers comes top of the list.

We need emotional context to create clearly differentiated brand experiences that are simply more beautifully designed. This demand often comes from younger generations of employees who are frustrated with old corporate ways of doing things. And, of course, from customers, who increasingly articulate their thoughts and criticisms via social media.

The revolution of design thinking 

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This is an important moment in the journey of design thinking. Great progress has been made. We’re fed up that so many aspects of our lives have been designed by accountants, marketers, technicians or policymakers – those who care more about revenue, message, technology or politics than our real needs and desires. Design offers tangible benefits that complement, orchestrate and deliver human value.

But this is just the beginning. Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, is often cited as the creator of design thinking (though he’d agree that we’d all been doing it anyway). In a recent speech at Central Saint Martins in London, Tim noted that business school students were great advocates of design thinking and a more creative, empathetic approach to management.

There’s great value in demystifying and sharing the tools of design. But it’s also vital to know when a higher level of skill and design thinking processes is required.

Design’s interest in deep user insight, rather than mass research, can therefore offer great value. The same goes for tools such as co-creation and prototyping. By piloting prototypes, you gain feedback and catch problems early in the process. In this way, design has the potential to impact on the success of an initiative or policy.

So, we’re surrounded by success and the embracing of design. Job done? Mission accomplished? No.

Designers are different

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A designer will see things differently from an accountant, stakeholders or a technology creator. In creative workshops, business students would come up with a single concept and be happy with it, whereas a design-trained student would create five and iterate each idea before finding the ultimate solution.

In a world fascinated by processes that promise responsiveness and rapid development, as exemplified by agile, the role of the designer becomes ever more important.

The designer is a facilitator, a champion of human empathy and a guardian of quality and simplicity. Designers override organisational or technical decisions that can chip away at the customer’s eventual experience. It’s collaboration between all parts of the organisation that makes great design happen.

It’s time to love design 

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There’s also a perception that design thinking and associated activities like service and customer experience design are somehow weak when it comes to aesthetics. But this should never be the case.

Now is the time to raise our ambition. The outputs of design thinking should be as beautiful as we can make them. They should be loved and treasured by all who use them. Rarely does this cost more, though it can take time to find talent and allow it to flourish. The results are always worth it.

Now that we love design thinking, it’s time to love design. Design of the detail, the delivery, the communication, the feel and the experience. People know design is their right and not a luxury; it’s merely humankind deciding how to make things as good as we can make them. This can be applied to an exceptional health service. Or to a transport system that’s empathetic to those who live around it as well as those who use it.

Design is the ultimate shared human activity, by us, for us. It’s time to love design, not just on its birthday, but every day.

Stay tune for what Anteelo has for you on this year’s DESIGN DAY!

App designs, themes, templates and downloadable graphic elements on Dribbble

Inspiration: Smart Design – Products that Change Our Lives by  Clive Grinyer 

* Disclaimer: all the images are copy right of their respective owners, we have only used it for display purpose.

How to Pitch Design Ideas to Clients like a Pro!

How to Pitch Your Design Work | Made by Sidecar | By designers. For designers.

Effective design is the best sales pitch! Design is good when it serves a purpose and turns a few heads, but it becomes phenomenal when it can twirl your client by the pixel. And this is where most designers face a roadblock. The only problem is, they somehow fail to associate “selling” with designing. And for those who don’t fall into that category, are most probably doing it wrong.We, designers come across a wide variety of clients to appease. Some of them turn out to be quite friendly and supportive, who hands over the liberty to the project in a barrel with other important stuff you might need to know. But some are more specific about their requirements and prefer to keep the freedom under a leash. Whoever we work with, the bottom-line remains the same: ideas don’t sell themselves. The key is to adapt to the ‘sales strategy’ to suit the customer. These are soft skills every designer must have!

Playing the role of an effective virtual tour guide isn’t a cakewalk, but I have for you, a few valuable and time-tested skills to help you add muscle to your selling.

Here are some pointers that you can mobilize to sell the design to your clients.

1. Know your Client : Get Talking

The Freelancer's 9-Step Guide to Convincing Clients to Hire You - Skillcrush

The number one rule of sales is getting to know your customer. This is where all the magic happens. It always starts with a string of conversations. The trick is to not let the thread go cold. At the start of a project, gather as much information about the client as possible. This will serve you well in the future in navigating through what actually matters to your client.  You can ask about their city, (a classic conversation starter), the weather may be, or about their likes and so on. And if you hit the right buttons, you would be amazed at what a simple conversation can uncork about your client’s design preferences, unless of course, you are Sherlock Holmes. Here’s what happens when you get talking:

  • You would get a clearer picture of what your client would prefer in your design.
  • A friendly conversation establishes trust. And once your client begins to trust you, the restrictions fall apart giving way for a fair amount of liberty on the projects you’re handling.
  • Once clients feel comfortable working with you, 80% of your pitching is done. They would start taking your designs more seriously and who knows, their next string of projects might have your name on them.
  • Establishing a relationship with the client is a fundamental precursor to pitching design ideas to them. It always gets them listening and responding more positively to your ideas.


How to Pitch Creative Ideas to your Clients | Honchō

Decision making in design can be a bit challenging. It is not like throwing in variables in a formula to get to the right answer. Therefore, there’s always room for error. And this is why you need to have an answer for everything you do because rest assured there will be questions!

The business of design dictates that there exists logical reasoning for every UI/ UX move you make. There needs to be a reason for your chosen palette of colors or, your one-page layout preference. Backing your ideas up with concrete statistics is the way to go. A little bit of research goes a long way. It is always advisable to have complete knowledge of the amazing solution you are about to present since this dramatically reduces the chances of skewing up the thought process. This way, you can let the data talk for itself. And clients seldom argue with data.

However, where data falls short, big players come in handy. Another way to gain credibility is by making examples out of well-recognized names in the market. Think of this as a simple hack to the path of least resistance. If your idea coincides with Google’s, to some extent, then that should definitely be a part of your pitching strategy. This little information can open up doors you never thought existed. The bottom line is, clients will have a lot of queries, and you need to have all the answers ready to make for a smooth design selling work-day!


Future Trends in Graphic Design for Your Website

Don’t just be a great designer, be a smart one. We happen to live in a world where nothing is constant, except change. And when it comes to design, change is what pulls the wagon.

The next time you have a design intervention, do quick trend research. Make yourself aware of the big trends in the market and find out the ones that will stick. You can incorporate those in your designs and make it work. Thinking out of the box is a gift, but thinking smart is an acquired taste. Whatever you do, keep in mind that there’s a difference between an unprecedented risk and well-thought-out-and-researched one. You would definitely need to avoid the former.

If you look closely, you would find that there exist two broad kinds of designers, the trend-setters and the trend-followers. Who do you want to be?


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Even the best, path-breaking, award-winning ideas need a good presentation to get them out of the shed. Which is why, in order to sell your design ideas effectively, you will need more than a few sketches or words.

Consider making a pitch desk that communicates your ideas in a way that catches the client’s imagination. Make sure that they get the bigger picture. While addressing the client, make sure that you put everything in context. Use mockup templates, distribute design samples, go the extra mile. This will help the client visualize what the final design will emulate. The closer your working prototype comes to the real-life design functionality, the closer you will be to sealing the deal.


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In a profession without absolutes, criticism comes in bountiful. Your work might be your territory, but you need to keep in mind that you have been hired to solve a problem. And how effectively you do it, measures the conversion rate. Your clients may not have all the design know-hows, but they know exactly what they want and how they want it. So it’s best to always stay on top of your game and pitch your design ideas without getting too defensive.

Your clients need to know that you are distilling their design ideas and steering them to the best possible fruition and not taking it as a challenge. So treading with a touch of finesse would be a great idea. Instead of responding “I don’t think this change is required”, you could tone it down to a “While the changes you have suggested are completely do-able, you might find that it already satisfies these requirements, if you re-examine the one I have submitted.”

The manner of accepting the feedback on the design is critical to its final acceptance. You will find yourself in situations, where a positive attitude, attention to detail and an inane ability to address all the pain-points will ensure that the client is more receptive to your version of the final design that otherwise.

Quick Tip: You are on the same side as your client, stop taking it as a challenge.


With design, you need to keep two things in mind:

  • Less is more
  • It is always better to show than to tell

Even though the thought of “selling” might make you cringe, it is a milestone to achieve to make your designs see the light of the day. Having said that, you need to believe in your pixels and your instincts to see you through the worst because at the end of the day, you are what you present. Figuring out the art of presenting your design ideas, pitching them articulating them proficiently and ‘closing’ the design sale are important skills that will come in handy rather regularly over the course of your career.


“ABCD”, AnyBody Can Design. That’s right, anyone can become a designer. Attaining a specialised certification or having an expertising degree iis not necessary. If you’ve mastered the graphics software, you can simply become a designer. Learning softwares usage online and mastering does not make it illegal. It’s perfectly legal.The 7 Success Mantras to be a Great Designer | by Abhinav Agrawal | Muzli - Design InspirationSo, is design a science or an in-born skill? How do designers work?

The thing to remember here is design has two sides, one is creative and fun and the other is challenging and even daunting. And so, designers should also be problem solvers towards business troubles as well as aesthetic matters. Both of these are like bicycle tyres, like a human’s feet. It’d work only if both sides are balanced, else you’d find yourself limping. You must be very careful in maintaining the balance.



Being a designer, this is your first and foremost requirement. You should first know the problem and then conduct a deep-rooted analysis. The aim is to come up with such a solution that leads you to the path of achieving your goals. Now how do these analysis processes take place? What is the tool?

The best is the usage of 5Ws & 1H, i.e., What+When+Where+Why+Who+How. The right steps guide is, know the problem first, then find the context. Now once you’re aware of the context, make sure you know the precise purpose. Working without purpose would lead you nowhere. Take a note here, there is no need, absolutely none, to rush the finishing of the graphics software. And that is because not all problems can be solved with a sketch.

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Designers create sketch solutions in the form of wireframes to solve the problems. Wireframe designs can be really wild, if you really get to thinking of the solutions. It’s a fact that beautiful sketches and hand-made drawings are not always capable of solving strong issues. Now when such a stage comes up, internal validation enters the picture. It is best to validate at the earliest stage possible, so that you get a definitive answer.

The method of analysing is not exclusive to UX/UI designs, rather it can be applied to the designing of illustrations, brand logos, etc. In principle, design is for knowing the problem, analysing it and then finding an appropriate solution. That’s the main function.



The second mantra is visualizations. The design made at the initial stage, in the form of wireframes is processed in a way that is pleasing and looks absolutely beautiful. In this phase, designers can demonstrate their capabilities in the appearance department. You can tweak or completely subtract the placement of visual elements like shapes, lines, etc. Avoiding the clutter and instead leaving out acceptable white space for the perfect fit of the talking stage. 

Processing graphics is like the dominant part at this stage. The designer’s choices and skills are the difference makers. Creation of style and possibilities in the main graphics software happens essentially because of the sensitivity.

Later on, the resultant wireframe is transferred over on the UI, which is beautifully done. It has an appearance where the colours are popping, option buttons are making you want to click on them. What more to ask for as a designer? The success of your design and work is all that you need!

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Now, if you have both these mantras as characters in you, a problem solver and a visualizer, then there you go. You are a complete designer, a balanced one who can provide amazing solutions.


Furthermore, you should always be wanting to improve. So how would you improve your problem solving skills?

The thing is you will be solving problems, if there are problems. But the trick is, look for problems. Analyze every situation and try to improve it. So you question, “what if?”


There are multiple applications, products, websites out there and they all have scope to improve. There always is. You just have to work your way through the application/website and then figure out the issues that you probably face during the course. Not all of your queries down.

This process is a major part of running an analysis. An effective analysis gives a result wherein you find the best of best solutions. However, validation is of essence. You have to validate your resultant case study with the users through constant testing, this will tell you whether or not your solution is effective. 


Secret mantras aren’t exactly a secret. We shall grow and learn together, so share the secret so that you don’t have a secret to guard anymore!

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