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Use this Glossary to refresh your understanding of key terms.

design constraints: what you cannot change about a problem

design freedoms: the naturally occurring things in your environment that you can use to your advantage; opposite of design constraints

design thinking process: an iterative process to develop innovative solutions to ill-structured, sticky problems that is messy, contingent and contextual; includes problem finding and problem solving; encourages alternating periods of expanding and narrowing scope of thinking around a specific problem

designer mindset: an optimistic belief that problems can be addressed by engaging users and developing solutions through an iterative process

discover: the design process stage in which designers begin to unpack a problem by understanding the people, context and challenges to generate understanding and empathy; part of problem finding

focus: the design process stage in which designers use information to identify boundaries around a challenge in order to find a problem that is actionable and can anchor subsequent design work; part of problem finding

imagine: the design process stage in which designers brainstorm a wide range of possible solutions, evaluate those ideas, and choose one solution to move forward into the prototyping stage, part of problem finding and problem solving

insight: unique qualities about a user that inform design 

low-fidelity prototype: a prototype that is somewhat unpolished, or may not have all desired features, usually made in order to quickly produce the prototype and test concepts.

need: a specific and meaningful, functional, or emotional goal of your stakeholders; a lens through which you can frame a problem

problem: a challenge or difficulty that requires a solution

prototype: 1) an artifact or draft of a solution (sketch, model, device, draft, storyboard, wire frame, etc.) which a user can interact with that articulates the designer's hypothesis 2) the design process stage in which designers begin the iterative process of building solutions; part of problem solving

reflect and share: the stage in the design process in which designers reflect on the design process as a whole both on their own and by presenting to others, leading to a better understanding of a user or context and potentially requiring designers to rethink whole problem from the beginning; part of problem solving

sketch: a type of low-fidelity visual prototyping

storyboard: a series of panels that express how a user will implement your solution

try: the design process stage in which designers test their prototype with their user to identify areas for improvement in the next iteration; part of problem solving

user: the person or group of people designers design with and for

wireframe: a mock-up of a digital solution

 This work by MIT Teaching Systems Lab is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.