ADX 3100 Design Thinking

Students gathered around a table strewn with papers and writing utensils


Course overview

This course is intended for students from any discipline who want an understanding of design thinking for brand, product, and service development. Students will learn a series of design thinking concepts, methods and techniques that are used to bring about innovation in business and in the social sector. Students will develop creativity skills, along with the strategy skills needed to identify needs, generate and visualize ideas to meet those needs, and ultimately bring these ideas to market.




Empathize: Students will learn to do qualitative design research, often called Voice of the Customer research. They will also learn how to conduct participant observations to help inform the design process. They will also learn about participatory design and co-creation which includes end-users in the design process. 

Define: Through qualitative design research and other exploratory, idea generating exercises, students will identify needs and opportunities for new product and service opportunities. They will create effective value propositions using a value proposition canvas and additional worksheets. They will learn to distinguish the differences between features, attributes and benefits. They will also conduct competitive market research and benchmarking (e.g. developing 2x2 matrices).

Ideate: Students will learn visual communication techniques such as sketching, rendering, and storyboarding.

Prototype: Students will also learn to make proof-of-concept models using low-fidelity materials like paper, foam core, fabric, found materials, and more. (This is the fun part where we get our hands dirty!)

Test: Students will use their 2D visualizations and proof-of-concept prototypes to text their ideas, looping back to their research participants for feedback, input and confirmation.

Presentation design and communication skills will also be addressed in this class. Students will also learn how to communicate (sell) their ideas and concepts effectively using visual and verbal storytelling techniques. 

Why study Design Thinking?A stack of books about design

If you are creative and analytical, fascinated by human needs and values, the material world, and how that all comes together, passionate about understanding and solving for human problems- then you should consider taking this Design Thinking course! 

  • Design thinking is where creative design meets human behavior.
  • This is also called human-centered design- a process to understanding why we as humans do, say, value, believe, make and create in the ways that we do, and how designers respond to that.
  • You will learn how to conceptualize and create products, spaces, interfaces, apparel, packaging, experiences, and more.
  • You will learn how to illustrate your ideas, prototype them and test them.
  • You learn how to make beautiful, functional, relevant and innovative designs that respond to the market and solve for unmet needs. 

How will this help my career?

  • Design Thinking is inherently interdisciplinary.
  • A design thinking approach can help teams better understand human needs, values, and behaviors.
  • Design thinking can help you to create innovative designs that respond to human experiences, meet existing market demands and create new market opportunities. 
  • Design Thinking is the source of innovation and positive change in many important and growing sectors including business, government, education, and healthcare. 
  • Design Thinking is well suited for positions in User Experience (UX) Design, Service Design, Product Design, Design Thinking, Design Research, Design Strategy, Consumer Insights Research, Marketing, and Branding.

A wooden table surface with crayons, markers, pens, and multi-colored paper.