Programs Perhaps you’re a UX designer interested in getting a Design Thinking certification. Maybe you’re a CEO or manager considering a Design Thinking certification for your team. Either way, you’ll want to know whether or not it’s worthwhile—and, if it is, how to go about making it happen.
Best Programs and Courses
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about getting a Design Thinking certification—including how it can benefit both your design career and your business in general. We’ll also list some of the best programs and courses offering a Design Thinking certification.
What is Design Programs Thinking
First things first: What exactly is Design Thinking and why is it useful? What’s all the fuss about?
By definition, Design Thinking is both an ideology and a process used to solve highly complex problems in a user-centric way. So, not only is it a mindset that encourages you to put your users first; it is also a practical, actionable methodology that can be applied in almost any setting.
One of the reasons Design Thinking is so popular in the business world is that, although it is based on the methods and processes used by designers, it can be used to solve all kinds of tricky business problems—you don’t need to be a designer to use and benefit from Design Thinking. Another great advantage is that it prioritizes tangible outcomes, allowing you to focus on finding solutions rather than fixating on obstacles and challenges.
So how does it work? The Design Thinking process is divided into five phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. You might go through each of the phases within the context of a workshop, or you might refer to the Design Thinking framework when making strategic business decisions. Whether you use Design Thinking as an ideology, a process, or both, the entire approach has been designed to encourage creativity and push for innovation, all while putting the user first. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to Design Thinking here—check it out if you’d like to learn more.
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I am a UX designer, should I get a Design Thinking certification?
Whether you’re an experienced UX professional or a fresh-faced designer, there are many ways you can benefit from being Design Thinking certified. Just like any other specialist skills you might choose to learn, a Design Thinking certification can help to set you apart and enrich your practice as a UX designer.
You’ll learn how to solve problems both quickly and creatively, and, thanks to the inherently collaborative nature of Design Thinking, you’ll also optimize the way you work with your team and other stakeholders. In addition to improving how you work, you’ll also give yourself a competitive edge; as Design Thinking becomes more and more popular in the business world, employers will increasingly be looking for designers who can both implement and teach the methodology and techniques involved.
A Design Thinking certification is also extremely beneficial if you’re working as a freelance designer or consultant, or if you plan on doing so in the future. Many CEOs and business leaders want to tap into the power of Design Thinking without necessarily getting a certification themselves, so they’ll hire a designer or consultant to take them through the process instead.
If you want to make a business out of running Design Thinking workshops, a certification will ensure you’re well-versed in the theory behind the methodology—and give you the credibility that clients will be looking for. You can learn more about how to run an effective Design Thinking workshop in this guide.
But what if you’re already a Design Thinking expert—do you still need a certification? Even if you’re already incorporating Design Thinking into your work, an official certification will help to verify your knowledge and present it as a concrete skill. Employers and clients scanning your resumé, portfolio, or LinkedIn profile won’t always pick up on implicit references to Design Thinking; they’ll be much more convinced by a visible and credible certification.
So, should you get a Design Thinking certification? Here’s a recap of the main benefits:
- Enrich your everyday UX practice
- Learn new problem-solving techniques
- Enhance your collaboration skills
- Set yourself apart with an in-demand skill
- Learn how to run Design Thinking workshops
- Forge a freelance or consultant career as a Design Thinking expert
- Formalize your existing knowledge with a recognized certification
I am a CEO or manager, should I get a Design Thinking certification for my employees?
We know that Design Thinking isn’t just for designers; all areas of business can make use of this creative, user-first approach.
If you’re familiar with some of the more well-known Design Thinking success stories—like how accounting software firm Intuit used Design Thinking to boost sales by $10 million in a year, or how Design Thinking transformed Airbnb from a failing startup to a billion dollar business—you may be wondering how you can use Design Thinking within your own organization. One option is to hire someone to run a Design Thinking workshop in-house. Alternatively, you might consider getting some of your team members certified through a specific Design Thinking course.
With a Design Thinking certification, you’re essentially looking to train your employees to think like designers—regardless of what department they work in. This is especially useful for those who don’t typically focus on the end user in their day-to-day work, and for those who may not be used to taking a creative approach.
what department they work
At the micro level, you’ll be equipping your employees and colleagues with highly valuable skills that they can apply to their own projects and tasks. At the macro level, you’ll foster a creative, user-centric mindset throughout the business—and that can have a significant impact on the bottom line.
Historically, design-driven businesses have consistently outperformed their competitors, and a recent study shows that Design Thinking maturity delivers higher revenue and better returns for organizations. So, if you’re not already incorporating Design Thinking into your business practice, you might consider introducing it through formal training.
If you’re considering a Design Thinking certification for some of your team members, here are some potential benefits of doing so:
- Encourage and optimize cross-team collaboration
- Establish a user-first mindset throughout the organization
- Foster creativity and come up with innovative solutions
- Outperform your competitors
Benefit from higher revenue and better returns
Design Thinking Certification Programs
Having explored the benefits of a Design Thinking certification, let’s take a look at some of the best programs and courses on the market.
1. IDEO U: Foundations in Design Thinking Certificate
- Mode of study: Online
- Duration: 2-3 months (based on 4 hours per week)
- Price: $1,198 USD
The Foundations in Design Thinking program offered by IDEO U teaches the core skills and mindsets of Design Thinking. It’s divided into two online cohort courses which you’ll need to complete in order to get your final certificate. The first course, Insights for Innovation, shows you how to turn customer needs into human-centered solutions, while the second course, From Ideas to Action, shows you how to prototype, experiment, and iterate on your ideas. The program is entirely online-based, with each lesson broken down into short videos. Upon completion of the program, you’ll receive your downloadable certificate via email.
2. Cornell University: Design Thinking Certificate
- Mode of study: Online
- Duration: 6 months (based on 3-5 hours per week)
- Price: $3,600 USD
This six-month online program is ideal for anyone who is involved in the design, development, or improvement of products, services, and infrastructure. The curriculum has been divided into six courses, each taking three weeks to complete: Identifying and framing a challenge, Gathering user emotions, Crafting user narratives, Generating user-centered solutions, Design prototyping, and Testing and iteration. Students can expect to spend 3-5 hours per week on the course, and are required to complete a final project.
5. Key takeaways and next steps
So there you have it: ten of the best Design Thinking certification programs the market has to offer. Before you commit to a particular course, it’s important to spend some time thinking about your own unique goals and requirements. What are your reasons for obtaining a Design Thinking certification—are you looking to enhance your own design career, or to bring the spirit of creativity and innovation to your organization?
At the same time, think about your needs. Can you commit to an intensive bootcamp, or would a flexible, online format be more feasible? Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few options, be sure to do your research: check for independent reviews and, if possible, speak to an advisor from the organization offering the course before you sign up. If you’d like to learn more about improving your UX design practice or thinking like a designer, check out the following:
- A complete guide to the most effective ideation techniques
- 10 UX principles that will change the way you see the world
- How to be a better designer—5 actionable tips