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Design Thinking Vs WaterFall Methodology

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a human-centered approach that focuses on customer expectations and uses an iterative approach for ideation. Design Thinking understands the users and challenges their perceptions of the problems at hand. The goal of design thinking is to create a deep understanding of the customer in order to generate empathy and develop solutions to the problems. Design thinking is a five-step approach. These steps can be followed in a sequence or randomly depending on the stage of the problem. These steps are namely empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.

For further information on design thinking, read our previous blog:


-Faster Solution Adoption

-Greater Understanding of Problems

-Customer’s Increased Involvement

-Increases Dissemination and Growth of Companies

-Resulting in Applicable Solution before Implementation


-Medium to Long Duration (Time-limited Projects are not Suitable)

-Requires Direct Involvement from Users and Customers

-Can result in a clash between Design Thinking and Traditional Practices

When to use Design Thinking

Design thinking can be used while facing a complex human-centered challenge where the problem is not clear and a deeper understanding of the problem and customer is required. Here, it is important to consider the difference between complex and complicated problems. Complicated problems no matter how complicated are still definable. On the other hand, only certain parts of a problem are well defined in complex problems.

Waterfall Methodology

The waterfall methodology is a sequential method where the first step needs to be completed in order to begin the next step. In the traditional waterfall method, the specifics of the projects are defined and organized beforehand. The goal of the waterfall method is to create a tight structure for the goal achievement and thus saves time and keeps the team goal-oriented. The waterfall method is a six-step process. These steps are always followed in the sequence and are namely requirements, design, implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance. Following is a brief description of these steps.


Client requirements about the project are collected and design specifications are created.


This phase works on the framework for the design implementation which contains specific elements of design, programming language, and system designs. Design requirements are evaluated to understand how the product will look like.


Specific instructions on design are implemented.


The product is tested for any bugs, problems and is cross-checked with the requirements from clients.


The product is released to the client.


Any problems or required changes reported from the client are taken into consideration.


-Each step is well documented and increases the overall manageability of the project

-Fixed deadline and Price lessen uncertainty

-Clear briefs increase the understanding of the project

-Time is saved in terms of Goal Orientation


-These types of projects are not flexible, and it gets difficult to adapt to any change

-There is a lack of feedback

-Client Requirements do not reflect user needs necessarily

-Estimations of the cost and benefit are less accurate

When to use WaterFall Method

Waterfall methods work well with a project that has well-defined, clear, and predictable foals. This methodology is best for projects which have specific client requirements and documented specifications for the product. This method is also suitable for time-limited projects which cannot afford to explore further than what is required from the product. Following is an overall comparison between the Waterfall method and design thinking:

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