Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology to innovate and create human-centered products and services. It involves empathy for the end-user, iteration, and a deep understanding of the problem being solved.
However, design thinking is not only a process. It also involves using specific tools to help facilitate the design stages.
These tools can include anything from mind maps to empathy maps, journey maps and user personas, and project management software. Each tool serves a specific purpose and helps designers gain insights, generate ideas, and prototype solutions.
In this guide, we will explore the top 10 design thinking tools that can help teams successfully implement the design thinking process. These tools range from empathy maps and journey maps to prototyping software and design sprints!
What Should You Look for in a Design Thinking Tool?
Design thinking is a process that involves understanding users’ needs, defining the problem, brainstorming solutions, building prototypes, and testing them out. But here’s the thing: Tools can make or break your design thinking experience.
The best design thinking tools help you organize your thoughts, work better with others, and act on ideas. So, how do you choose the perfect design thinking tool for your team?
Here are key characteristics to consider when selecting the ideal design thinking tool:
- Customizability: Team members can tailor the tool to suit their design thinking processes and graphic design workflows
- Iterative process support: The tool supports an iterative process, allowing everyone the ability to run multiple design iterations and tweak solutions
- Documentation: The tool offers project management features to share knowledge, store creative ideas, track progress, and increase accountability
- Collaboration: Project contributors can easily communicate with other team members to share ideas and feedback
- Visualization: The tool provides visualization features to aid in different design thinking stages
- Automation: Team members can improve their creative solutions by automating the manual day-to-day tasks in the design process
- Integration: Design thinking tools should integrate with other online tools for Agile product development, such as prototyping, user research, user interviews, and usability testing
10 Best Design Thinking Tools in 2023
Our top 10 design thinking tools list features a variety of tools and software that can help teams ideate, prototype, and test possible solutions more effectively. From wireframing and prototyping tools to digital collaboration platforms, these tools offer everything you need to streamline your design thinking process and maximize your team’s productivity!
ClickUp is a productivity platform designed to provide wall-to-wall solutions for any team or product roadmap. From daily tasks to complex projects, ClickUp offers hundreds of features to help facilitate the various stages of the design thinking process. Whether your team works asynchronously or in real-time, you’ll have the context and tools needed to keep projects moving!
Plus, ClickUp integrates with 1,000+ other work tools, including Slack, Google Drive, Figma, and Loom, to centralize your work apps into a collaborative workspace.
For example, integrating with Figma allows designers to easily collaborate and share their work with their team members directly in ClickUp. Meanwhile, integrating with Loom can help streamline team communication by allowing users to quickly record and share video messages within tasks and comments!
ClickUp best features
- Image, video, and PDF annotation tools to centralize feedback and expedite approval processes
- Collaborative Whiteboards, Docs, and Mind Maps to develop ideas in real-time alongside the team
- Flexible time tracking from any device, window, app, or task with the global timer
- Over 15 project views, including Calendar, Board, and the unique Workload view
- A vast Template Library for every use case, from design briefs to customer journey maps
- Multiple assignees on tasks for total transparency into all progress
- Visual collaboration features available on every pricing plan
- 50+ Task Automations to streamline any project workflow
- So many powerful collaboration tools can pose a learning curve
- Not all views are available in the mobile app—yet!
- Free Forever
- Unlimited: $5/month per user
- Business: $12/month per user
- Business Plus: $19/month per user
- Enterprise: Contact for pricing
ClickUp ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.7/5 (6,500+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (3,500+ reviews)
Discover the essential product management templates!
Hotjar is a design thinking tool helping businesses gain a better understanding of their customer’s behavior and preferences. It provides a suite of tools for user research data and heatmaps to identify pain points, optimize user experiences, and drive conversions. One of the key features of Hotjar is its ability to create visitor recordings, which allows businesses to see exactly how users are interacting with their website or application.
In addition to visitor recordings, Hotjar also offers a variety of other tools for collecting feedback, including surveys, polls, and forms. This allows businesses to gather insights directly from their users and get a better understanding of their needs and preferences.
Hotjar best features
- Visitor recording and session replay
- Heatmaps to track user behavior on web pages
- Conversion funnel analysis to optimize sales funnels
- Feedback polls and surveys to gather user input
- User behavior analysis and segmentation
- Limited filtering capabilities on the free and lower-tier plans
- Custom charts are only available for teams on the Scale plan
- Up to 10MB HTML capturing
- Basic: Free
- Plus: $32/month
- Business: $80/month
- Scale: $171/month
Hotjar ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.3/5 (200+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (480+ reviews)
Design consistency is a critical aspect of any successful design project, and Figma makes it easier for teams with searchable assets and shareable styles. Figma allows designers to create a centralized library of assets, including icons, logos, and other design elements. Everyone can use the design-approved assets and maintain a consistent look and feel across their designs!
Figma also comes with features to create and share styles for typography, color, and other design elements. Designers can apply consistent styles across all their designs, regardless of the designer working on them. These styles can be updated in one place and automatically applied to all designs.
Figma best features
- Cloud-based design collaboration and sharing
- Component and style libraries for efficient design workflows
- Version history and file backup
- Team management tools and user permissions
- Integration with third-party tools like Slack and ClickUp
- Limited offline functionality, as it is primarily a cloud-based tool
- Limited plugin library compared to other design thinking tools
- No mobile application
- Starter: Free
- Figma Professional: $12 per editor/month
- Figma Organization: $45 per editor/month
- Enterprise: $75 per Figma editor/month
Figma ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.7/5 (780+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (590+ reviews)
4. Make My Persona
MakeMyPersona is a design thinking tool developed by HubSpot to help businesses create detailed buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictional representations of an ideal customer and are essential for businesses to understand their target audience better.
But the fact of the matter is MakeMyPersona allows businesses to create detailed personas by answering a series of questions related to the customer’s demographic, interests, goals, and pain points. The tool then generates a detailed persona report that includes the customer’s name, age, job title, and more.
By creating detailed personas, businesses can tailor their messaging and offerings to meet the specific needs of their target audience. This can result in increased customer engagement and higher conversion rates.
Make My Persona best features
- User persona creation tool for market research and user-centered design
- Customizable persona templates and questionnaires
- Collaboration tools for persona creation and the design thinking process
- Access to HubSpot’s comprehensive marketing and sales resources
- Unlimited online personas to support user testing
Make My Persona limitations
- Limited functionality beyond persona creation, as it is primarily a stand-alone tool
- Limited customizability of persona templates compared to other persona creation tools
- Lacks design project management features to support every design thinking stage
Make My Persona pricing
- Make My Persona is a free tool
Make My Persona ratings and reviews
- G2: N/A
- Capterra: N/A
Optimizely is a website optimization platform for businesses to test and optimize their website content for maximum impact. The platform offers a suite of tools for A/B testing, personalization, and analytics so businesses can make data-driven decisions about their website content.
With Optimizely, businesses can test and optimize everything from headlines and images to entire landing pages, and user flows. The platform is cloud-based, making it accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Optimizely is a great tool for improving website performance and increasing engagement and conversion rates!
Optimizely best features
- A/B testing and experimentation platform for website and app optimization
- Visual editor for creating and deploying experiments
- Personalization tools for tailored user experiences
- Experiment analytics and reporting for usability testing
- Integration with other analytics and marketing tools
- Limited functionality for non-technical users who may need to rely on developers for more complex experiments
- Small library of integrations compared to other different design thinking tools
- Expensive pricing model, making it less accessible for smaller businesses
- Contact Optimizely for pricing plan options
Optimizely ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.3/5 (60+ reviews)
- Capterra: N/A
Sessionlab is a web-based design thinking tool that provides a range of features to plan, organize, and run effective meetings and workshops. The tool is designed to help teams build innovative solutions and reduce the amount of time producing events.
One of the key features of Sessionlab is its extensive library of pre-designed templates for different types of meetings and workshops. These templates include agendas, exercises, and facilitation tools. These can be customized to meet the specific needs of the event and team. Sessionlab also provides a range of tools for managing participant feedback, capturing and sharing meeting notes, and following up on action items.
SessionLab best features
- Facilitation and workshop planning tools for the design thinking process and Agile methodologies
- Customizable agenda templates to create a user research platform
- Collaboration tools for team-based workshop planning
- Private templates on the paid plans
- Team activity overview
- Limited customizability of agenda templates compared to other workshop planning tools
- Limited functionality for project management beyond workshop planning
- No offline functionality
- Basic: Free for one user
- Pro: $15/month for one user
- Team: $60/month for five users
- Business: $90/month for five users
SessionLab ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.9/5 (15+ reviews)
- Capterra: 5/5 (5+ reviews)
Stormboard is a cloud-based collaboration and brainstorming tool helping teams generate ideas and turn them into actionable plans. The tool is built to collaborate in real-time, making it an ideal solution for remote teams working on design thinking solutions.
Stormboard provides a range of features, including sticky notes, virtual whiteboards, and drawing tools. The tool also offers a voting system, allowing team members to vote on the best ideas, and a prioritization feature to help teams identify the most important ideas to focus on.
Stormboard best features
- Digital brainstorming and collaboration tool for design thinking
- Real-time collaboration and voting for remote teams
- Integration with other project management tools
- Mobile app for on-the-go collaboration
- Security features for protecting data and ensuring privacy
- Limited ability to customize templates or create custom workflows
- Limited functionality for project management beyond brainstorming and ideation
- Steep learning curve for new users unfamiliar with digital brainstorming tools
- Personal: Free for individuals for teams of five or less
- Business: $10/month
- Enterprise: Contact Stomboard for custom pricing
Stormboard ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.3/5 (40+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (30+ reviews)
Miro is an online collaborative whiteboard platform offering a range of tools to help teams collaborate effectively, including sticky notes, drawings, flowcharts, and wireframes. Miro also integrates with other work tools, such as Slack, Jira, and Google Drive, making it easy to share information and files across different platforms.
Additionally, Miro offers templates to help teams get started quickly, making it easy to create a customized workspace for each project. With its user-friendly interface, robust feature set, and powerful integrations, Miro is a valuable tool for any remote team looking to collaborate effectively.
Miro best features
- Sticky notes, images, mind maps, videos, and drawing capabilities
- Variety of templates and tools for brainstorming and wireframing
- Real-time collaboration and shared spaces for remote teams
- Integration with other project management tools and apps
- Ability to upload and share images, videos, and other files
- Lacks functionality to build an in-depth knowledge hub
- Pricing is steep for smaller agencies
- Limited offline functionality
- Starter: $8 per member/month
- Business: $16 per member/month
- Enterprise: Contact Miro for custom pricing
Miro ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.8/5 (4,300+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (1,100+ reviews)
Mural is a digital workspace and design thinking tool for teams to ideate and iterate their ideas. The platform is designed to support a range of design thinking stages, including problem-solving, brainstorming, mapping, and visualization. Mural provides a range of features and tools to help teams work together effectively, regardless of their location.
Mural’s canvas templates provide teams with a structured way to approach different design thinking stages, while its frameworks help teams to organize as many ideas and identify patterns. Additionally, Mural provides a range of tools for sketching, annotating, and commenting, making it easy for team members to communicate and collaborate in real-time.
Mural best features
- Flexible permissions to create view-only, edit, and facilitator permissions
- Hundreds of pre-built templates for collaboration sessions
- Advanced integration features on the paid plans
- Extensive file support for whiteboards
- Infinite & resizable canvas options
- Expensive pricing plans compared to other design thinking process tools
- Lacks the option to create interactive charts, tables, or reports
- No video chat feature
- Team+: $9.99 per member/month
- Business: $17.99 per member/month
- Enterprise: Contact Mural for custom pricing
Mural ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.6/5 (1,200+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (100+ reviews)
Compare whiteboard features and pricing between Miro and Mural!
Wrapping up our best design thinking tools list is InVision—a digital product design platform for designers, product managers, and other stakeholders to create and collaborate on different types of projects. It offers a suite of tools that simplify the design process, including prebuilt templates organized by categories and role types.
With the Freehand feature, teams can align everyone on the same page at every stage of their workflow. The tool lets teams easily discuss ideas, leave comments, and provide feedback, all visually and collaboratively. This helps to minimize miscommunication, reduce errors, and accelerate the decision-making process.
InVision best features
- Whiteboard Importer feature to directly import Miro or Mural whiteboards
- Unlimited public and private spaces on the free tier
- Interactive widgets and reactions
- Customizable smart workflows
- Task management features
- Small integration library compared to other design thinking tools
- No feature to create a flowchart or sitemap for a prototype
- Lacks team management and workload capabilities
- Pro: $4/month per active user
- Enterprise: Contact InVision for pricing
InVision ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.4/5 (650+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (700+ reviews)
Build a Design Thinking Toolkit With ClickUp
Design thinking tools are an essential part of any design team’s toolkit. These tools help teams to collaborate effectively, ideate, prototype, and iterate their ideas seamlessly.
However, when it comes to finding a platform that can support all of these design thinking tasks in one place, ClickUp stands out as the best solution.
With ClickUp, you can seamlessly integrate your wireframes, prototypes, and designs into your project management workflows, streamlining your design thinking process and increasing efficiency.
Get started with ClickUp for free today!
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