The Best Design Thinking Training: A Guide to Choosing the Right Programme for You

calendar Mar 27, 2023
author Written by Artur Glukhovskyy

Whether you’re an experienced UX designer looking to bolster your skills or are curious about launching a new career in a design-related field, design thinking training will be instrumental to your hopes. 


We are in a highly competitive digital age.

Companies are expected to produce products and services that not only solve their user’s deepest challenges but also go above and beyond expectations.


Design thinking helps to achieve this by offering an ideology and a methodology. 

It places the customer experience at the heart of everything, combining human understanding with technology. 


In this article, we’ll recap what design thinking is and offer a guide on how to choose the right design thinking training for your circumstances.


What you'll find in this article:


  1. What is Design Thinking and Who's it For?
  2. How to choose the right Design Thinking Training
  3. What will you learn?
  4. Do you need a qualification to start?
  5. Conclusion
  6. FAQs


Let’s get started! 


Design meaning


What is Design Thinking and Who’s it For?


Design thinking is a human-centric ideology and structured process that aims to solve highly complex problems for users. 


It follows a set of guiding principles that aim to put the user first.


It talks about exercising empathy to gain a deeper understanding of how users behave and how we can tap into their unique pain points and challenges.


Design thinking is a highly collaborative and iterative process.

You’ll work with cross-functional teams and departments.

Through constant experimentation, feedback and refinement, designers will work to find the best solution to a user’s problem. 


Design thinking’s approach isn’t just theory though, there is a structured process you can follow as a 5-stage process:


  1. Empathise 
  2. Define 
  3. Ideate 
  4. Prototype
  5. Test 


But design thinking isn’t rigid. Although there is a sequential process, it’s completely non-linear, so teams will bounce between stages at will.


The point of design thinking is to develop solutions for users using empathy, experimentation and iterating on ideas and feedback. 


This flexibility also means it can be applied to many different business environments. You’re not beholden to being a designer or engineer.


Design thinking trains people to adjust their mindset to a more user-centric one.

It's valuable at any level, whether that’s marketing, sales, training, recruitment, customer service, directing strategy and so on. 


How to Choose the Right Design Thinking Training


Design thinking training can be wildly varied.


Some courses will offer a light introduction to the principles and techniques.

thers will provide hands-on training that guides you through the entire process or even offers a job placement at the end. 


There's also price and course duration to consider.


Can you afford the upfront cost? Are you available to study full-time or part-time?


These are all important questions to consider and the answers will help steer you in the right direction when it comes to choosing your own design thinking training. 


To make life easier for you, we’ve highlighted some of the key factors to consider when choosing a design thinking program.


wall with career goals


Career Goals 

The first step in choosing the right design thinking training is to determine how you’ll use the knowledge.


Are you training to enhance existing knowledge? Are you looking to transition into a lateral or vertical role? Are you completely new to design and this will be your first foray into the field? 


Most course websites will provide an overview of what the course entails and who the course best suits.


Our general advice if you’re new to design thinking is to choose a course that lets you dip your toe in and get a feel for what it’s all about.


This way you’re not overcommitting financially or with your time. 


If you’re coming from a design or product-led background such as marketing, engineering, software development or a management-based role, then a certified course will give you a thorough understanding of design thinking and the practical applications.

Plus a certificate is great for your resumé and/or prospective employers. 


Course Content 

Design thinking training has lots of elements to cover.


From the basic principles to the strategic methods such as how to conduct research, gather user feedback and hold ideation sessions.


It’s best to choose a course that explains all of the design thinking processes including the 5 stages and what each one entails. 

Even if your goal is to apply design thinking training to a non-design-related role!


To recap, the 5 stages are: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.

You might find that some courses elaborate on this process and feature seven stages instead but either is sufficient. 


Be sure to check how the course content is delivered too.


Is it written material, videos, live sessions or a combination of these?


Are there hands-on projects you’ll be collaborating on with your network of peers? Will you need to demonstrate your knowledge on a final exam or practical assignment?


Depending on your learning preference and goals, the content can play a huge part in deciding how you’ll learn and which design thinking training to pick.  


Credible Instructors


walking instructors


Design thinking largely operates in the ever-evolving technical space. This makes up-to-date information regarding the latest tools and trends a key part of learning. 


Most in-depth design thinking training will display who teaches the course so it’s a good idea to browse through and find out.

Often these will be university professors or representatives from successful companies. 


On the other hand, an introductory self-paced short course may not require instructors as they tend to be less hands-on.

So don't let their absence put you off entirely but do check when the course was published!


It’s no use learning content from five years ago. 



Pricing is of course one of the most important factors to consider when choosing your design thinking training.


As you peruse the internet, you’ll come across every price range imaginable, from free introductory courses, to €1000, all the way to over €10,000. 


Typically, you can expect the course cost to correlate with the content depth and the duration of the course.


These days you’ll find many providers offer flexible financing options to spread the cost over time. 



This brings us nicely to our next tip for choosing the right design thinking training - checking the course fits around your schedule. 


Some courses will be completely self-paced, allowing you to complete the learning in your own time without any deadlines or the need to attend live classes.


This is great if you’re studying alongside a full-time job or trying to balance it around other commitments.


Although these types of courses don’t have bustling classroom-style communities, they do often have online chat forums and groups to encourage discussion and add a social element to them. 


For longer courses, there is still a degree of flexibility but will feature live classrooms and with practical assignments.

You’ll collaborate with peers, so there's an additional level of planning and management needed for this.


This style of learning will suit if you’re working part-time or plan to study full-time.  


Check Reviews 

a person checking book reviews


Virtually every consumer on the planet will check reviews and ratings before making any purchase and choosing a design thinking course is no different.


See what learners have said about the course after completing it and read their success stories.


Reviews are a great indication of whether a course is worth your time and money, plus, you’re bound to find someone who was in a similar position to you which takes some of the anxiety away. 


What Will You Learn with Design Thinking Training?


As we mentioned before, design thinking has many elements to it.


While the depth of learning may vary depending on which type of course you choose, the fundamentals of design thinking will be taught pretty much anywhere.


Here are the most common topics of design thinking you can expect to learn:


- The Principles of Design Thinking: These are the concepts that underpin design thinking as both an ideology and a methodology.

You’ll touch on how empathy, collaboration, ideation, experimentation and a bias towards action are the guiding principles that drive design thinking’s innovation and success. 


- How to Conduct User Research: Learn about the different research methods in design thinking. These include feedback sessions, user interviews, surveys and more. 


- Ideating: Learn how to incorporate user research in ideation sessions that fuel your design ideas.


You’ll also discover how ideation techniques like brainstorming and the Worst Possible Idea help generate winning solutions. 


- Prototyping: See how ideas transform into working prototypes. These scaled-down versions of a product or service help gather feedback from users on what elements need refining. 


- Testing: See how your final products fare in the real world with real users and how their feedback influences the development loop.  


Do You Need a Qualification to Enrol in Design Thinking Programs?


No! Virtually any of the major design thinking courses, even from top universities, are designed for beginners.


Of course, it helps to have a general knowledge of some of the concepts and terminologies but some late-night internet browsing will cover most of this. 


Because design thinking can be applied to many different business settings, you’ll find students come from a diverse range of backgrounds, not always tech or design related.

So don’t let a lack of experience dissuade you. 


The most important skills you’ll need are an open mind, a willingness to learn and an enthusiasm to create innovative customer solutions! 


The Takeaway 


Choosing the right design thinking training can be a daunting task.


There is a multitude of courses available, each with its own criteria, and personal factors will play a role too.


Some are how much time you can afford to dedicate to learning, how much the course will cost and what you want to get out of your learning.


When you’re deciding which course is best for you, remember to consider these things:


  1. What are your career goals?
  2. What is your preferred style of learning?
  3. Is the course provider credible?
  4. Is it affordable?
  5. Will it work on your schedule?
  6. Have others taken and given positive feedback on the course?


We wish you the best of luck!


If you’d like to see Growth Tribe’s Design Thinking Certificate, click here for the course overview, it’s tailored towards beginners and digital professionals seeking a competitive edge





How do I start learning design thinking?

The best things to do to start learning Design Thinking are:

  1. Start a course about Design Thinking and earn a certificate. This will familiarise you with the subject matter.
  2. Follow 5 Design Thinking experts on LinkedIn. They are a free encyclopedia based on their experiences! Engage with their content, and ask them questions if you have any doubts.
  3. Open YouTube and start digging into the subject. 
  4. Start a project or join one in order to apply what you've learned. Practical experience and projects are what companies need, and it's the best way to test your new knowledge and skills. 


Can design thinking be taught?

Yes, design thinking can be taught.

The best universities in the world are already doing it: MIT, Harvard, and others in Europe and Asia.


Become a Design Thinking Specialist!

Master the fundamentals of design thinking as you learn about: 


  • Build the future through customer-centricity
  • How to identify opportunities for innovation
  • How empathy with your customers can lead your business to success.
  • Build great user experiences (UX)
  • How to use feedback to improve user experience.
  • Hot to build exceptional customer journeys

See the full course overview here.


Learning with Growth Tribe couldn’t be easier. All of our courses are designed to be flexible for the learner with self-paced content so you can manage your time and learning, to best suit your lifestyle. 


Join a community of over 35,000 certified alumni who share a passion for growing their skills and positively impacting their careers. 

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