design thinking

In this article, we’ve compiled 25 of our favorite design thinking resources—from inspiration and worksheets to academic research.

For learning professionals, design thinking challenges us to think about the learning solutions we design in terms of objectives, motivation, and barriers. We are so focused on solving our business problems that we don’t adequately consider the perspective of the learners who must go through the learning experience.


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Incorporating design thinking tools in the learning design process is critical to find the sweet spot between learner needs and business needs. Design thinking helps you actually identify every step in what you’re hoping your learners will do. It examines the resources required, the support needed, the “happy moments” involved in doing it, the pain points involved in doing it, and the thoughts and feelings that may be happening as someone does it. From that, you can extrapolate the moments of need and design more effective training.

These resources can help jump-start that necessary change in thinking. Each link can help you either better understand design thinking, or better implement it in your organization. This article isn’t going anywhere, so bookmark it for reference and come back whenever you need more inspiration!

Our 25 Favorite Design Thinking Resources

1. What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular? – Rikke Dam & Teo Siang, Interaction Design Foundation

2. Five Stages in the Design Thinking Process – Rikke Dam & Teo Siang, Interaction Design Foundation

3. The Moment of Truth – Build Desirable Relationships with Users and Customers  – Interaction Design Foundation

4. Customer Journey Maps – Walking a Mile in Your Customer’s Shoes – Ditte Mortensen, Interaction Design Foundation

5. Design Thinking: Level-Up the Learner Experience – Sharon Boller, Bottom-Line Performance

6. Change By Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation – Tim Brown, HarperCollins Publishers

7. Human-Centered Training: One L&D Trend to Rule Them All? – Steven Boller, Bottom-Line Performance

8. Build Your Company On a Problem, Not a Solution – JL Rawlence, Concept Bureau, Inc.

9. How to Take a Learning Experience From Miserable to Memorable – Sharon Boller, Bottom-Line Performance

10. The Principles of Service Design Thinking – Building Better Services – Interaction Design Foundation

11. The subtle art that differentiates good designers from great designers – Quovantis

12. The Mobile Mindset: Designing Great Mobile Learning Experiences – Jake Huhn, Bottom-Line Performance

13. A Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking – d.school, Stanford University

14. Prototyping in Design Thinking: How to Avoid Six Common Pitfalls – Rikke Dam & Teo Siang, Interaction Design Foundation

15. Design Thinking = Method, Not Magic – Stanford University Webinar, YouTube

16. The 2018 Learning Trends Report – Sharon Boller & Steven Boller, Bottom-Line Performance

17. The 7 Factors that Influence User Experience – Interaction Design Foundation

18. Learner Experience Design: Discovering Tools & Ideas for Orchestrating the Learner Experience
Joyce Seitzinger, RMIT Online

19. Learner Persona Worksheet – Sharon Boller, Bottom-Line Performance

20. Why Learner Personas and Learning Design Go Hand-in-Hand – Sharon Boller, Bottom-Line Performance

21. UX Mapping Methods Compared: A Cheat Sheet – Sarah Gibbons, Nielsen Norman Group

22. Personas – Why and How You Should Use Them – Rikke Dam & Teo Siang, Interaction Design Foundation

23. Customer journey mapping: The path to loyalty – Stuart Hogg

24. Design Thinking for Learning Innovation – A Practical Guide – Arun Pradhan, DeakinCo.

25. Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams – James Kalbach, O’Reilly Media