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Design Thinking Vs. UX Design: What Sets Them Apart?

While most readers might think that design thinking and UX design are the same things, that’s certainly not the case.

Although both of these processes are employed to improve customer satisfaction, design thinking and UX design work in different ways where UX design may be a part of the design thinking journey.


This blog gives you a rundown of what these processes are and weighs up the differences between design thinking and UX design.


What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a creative process that resolves existing problems in an innovative way. It creates and provides value for customers with new solutions. Essentially, design thinkers go beyond the understanding of the ‘job to be done’ and what’s getting in the way of optimizing the customer’s experience. Design thinkers focus on understanding the beliefs, values and relationships being applied in executing the job. They make use of elaborate processes like design anthropology and ethnography. This creates for very appealing and addictive products that circumvent any cultural barriers and benefit the company and the customer.


Design thinkers go through a 5-step process of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing. Here’s how each phase of the step works.

  • Challenge – evaluating customers' problems provides the designers with the information to identify the main arena or domain and its boundaries. It is usually stated as wishes and wants, losses and gains that need to be fixed.

  • Empathize – the designers study the human-centric situation with the task at hand, the values, and the beliefs in play. In this qualitative and anthropological research, metaphors and stories are used to describe the new and original revelations and insights.

  • Ideate – designers now knowing which specific human parameters to anchor the solution. In this phase, they begin to work on ideas and concepts for resolving the issues and the problem. These ideas and concepts are tested using stories and diagrams.

  • Design & Prototype – the ideas are then materialized into low fidelity prototypes and mockups. It's an experimentation phase of the design thinking process.

  • Test: The prototyping is then tested to measure appeal and to improve based on consumer reflection. This leads to more tangible solutions to the original problem, testing for price points, quality, and demand levels.


What is UX Design?

UX design stands for ‘User Experience,’ and that’s precisely what UX designers want to improve.


UX Design is the approach to designing a product for consumers that’s usable, aesthetically pleasing, improves efficiency, and is easy to work with. UX designers’ journey pre-supposes that the right solution is already identified and are tasked with taking the product and put together features that’ll improve the user’s experience.


These designers use specific tools and techniques to improve the user experience by making the product more user-friendly, accessible and pleasurable to work with. UX Design comprises a 6 step process that often follows the same pattern as the design thinking process.

  • Understand – to understand the brand and the needs of the user

  • Research – Interview the audience on what they’re struggling with

  • Analyze – UX Designers analyze their customers’ data and identify their needs

  • Design – Now that they understand the user needs, UX Designers design solutions through site maps, wire-frames, mock-ups, and user flows

  • Launch – Designers release their solution through internal testing, beta launch and user testing

  • Analyze again – lastly, the designer has to analyze their final product to see if it’s working right and that the consumers are satisfied with the result

UX Design often takes inspiration from the design thinking process and incorporates some of the steps in its own proceedings.


If you’re looking for product designers to create a positive experience for your consumers, then D Laer has got you covered! D Laer is a premium business model consultancy that also provides innovative product designs services. We are a team of professional product designers who utilize ingenious tools such as gamification, storytelling, business origami and other devices to create the best possible outcomes.


You can learn more about our product design consultancy services on our website.


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