With several different collaborators working on the same project at the same time, you need a virtual workspace that allows for an organized workflow that is responsive to feedback and helps your collaborators drive ideas through all the stages of the innovation pipeline.

However, not everyone processes information and approaches problem-solving in the same way. In a healthy and dynamic workspace, there is a diversity of mindsets that tackle problems and analyze data in a different way. This is known as cognitive diversity, and it is a key buzzword in today’s business environment.

If, like many of today’s top innovators, you believe that cognitive diversity matters in the workplace, you need a design thinking platform that is customizable and flexible.

There are many solutions available on the market, with more and more being developed each day. Below are five of the more popular products on the market, each with its own approach to creating a virtual workspace that optimizes the diversity of problem solving and innovation.

The 5 Stages of Design Thinking

Putting the needs of the user at the heart of product development is the main objective of design thinking. In other words: put yourself in the mindset of the customer, understand or anticipate the problems and challenges from their perspective then create innovative solutions to prototype and test.

Design thinking can be broken down into 5 distinct stages.

  • Empathize

During this stage, the design team will gain as much information as they can about the needs and concerns of the user. They will try to put themselves in the proverbial shoes of the user and try to experience the potential problems from their perspective.

  • Define

During this stage, the design team will take the information gathered and with it form what is called a ‘problem statement’: a concise description of a particular design problem.

  • The problem statement should be broad enough to allow for creative freedom.
  • The problem statement should contain words such as want, need or wish.
  • The problem statement should be based on practical applications.
  • Ideate

During this stage, the design team will generate as many ideas as possible. The emphasis here is on diversity and creativity, not feasibility. Strategies that are often employed include brainstorming or worst-possible-idea sessions.

  • Prototype

During this stage, the design team will produce a scaled-down version of the product that aims to solve the problem or problems they identified in the previous stages.

  • Test

During this stage, the design team will present the product to a sample group comprised of beta users. They will collect feedback from these users, and depending on the results will either refine the product or they may need to redefine the problem they attempted to solve.

With this in mind, it is important that the design thinking software or platform used over the course of these five stages be flexible and allow input from a multitude of outside sources to be integrated into the design process.

Design Thinking Software and Collaborative Space Platforms


Created specifically for remote design projects and workshops, Sprintbase uses a series of whiteboards that can be broken down into multiple sub-teams. It comes with a comprehensive tools library and performance analytics that allow you to track your team’s progress.

Some of the advantages of Sprintbase include:

  • Intuitive, ready-to-use templates
  • Lots of easy-to-follow tutorials and training videos
  • Snap-to-grid design that allows for an easy alignment of content
  • An impressive roster of users such as eBay or CapGemini


Much like Sprintbase, MURAL also uses a ‘whiteboard’ design. But with MURAL and its drag-and-drop approach, the emphasis is on diagrams and the visual representation of ideas.

Billed as a ‘thinking Canvas’, MURAL helps organize your projects into:

  • Lists
  • Flowcharts
  • Frameworks


  • Drawings


Lucidspark is a simpler platform than either Sprintbase or Mural. However, that doesn’t mean that it is lacking in essential features.

  • Ready-to-use templates
  • Free-hand drawing capabilities
  • Sticky notes and emojis
  • Chats with @mention for quick feedback
  • Optional timer and voting sessions

Lucidspark is an intuitive and easy-to-use virtual online whiteboard, ideal for smaller and/or less experienced design teams.

Cisco Cognitive Collaboration Solutions

If you’re looking for a more AI-enhanced virtual collaboration platform, Cisco has created one of the most powerful, if not the most popular.

Some of the key features of Cisco’s voice intelligence solutions are:

  • A digital in-meeting assistant to help with notes, highlights, and follow-ups
  • The automated capture of trigger words for easy perusing of minutes
  • Real-time transcription and closed captioning for the hearing impaired
  • A time-saving key-word search that allows you to quickly find a specific point in the recording of your meeting

Cisco Cognitive Collaboration Solutions is not exactly design thinking software. Their focus is more on AI-enhanced Webex rooms that assist and enhance virtual meetings. However, as the design phase often requires many virtual meetings and input from a wide array of collaborators, their product can be used in conjunction with other software and add efficiency and cohesion to your design team.


Userforge is billed as persona-generating software. This means: the design team will create fictional people and use them to model and communicate useful attributes for a particular segment of users. The program features interviews, surveys, and analytical data to help create the personas.

Userforge takes a story-based approach to design thinking.

If you’re not sure whether Userforge is right for your design team, they offer a starter workspace that is free with no expiration.


While all the above-mentioned software programs and platforms are customizable, they do each take a slightly different approach to the organization and presentation of ideas.

What they share in common is the desire to offer a workspace where collaborators and users can come together and explore ideas, problems, and proposed solutions.