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User Experience VS Design Thinking

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

Design thinking is a framework, a methodology of creating the best possible user experience. In that sense UX design is a building process when the design thinking is a hammer which comes with the handbook how to use it efficiently.

Design Thinking can be implemented on a very conceptual stages of developing an app/service. Its holistic, more broad way of thinking about the product and the creation process itself.

Design thinking methods can be utilized not only by UX designers, but also developers, product owners and even marketers as well.


Design Thinking is a process or methodology. It is about applying a specific way of thinking to a situation. Design Thinking is not about solving a particular problem, but about finding the right problem to solve. It can be applied broadly to areas that are traditionally outside of "Design" because the output of Design Thinking is not necessarily a traditional design.

UX Design is about the act and output of designing. This includes interaction design, visual design, and information architecture. The term is most commonly used with respect to Human-Computer Interaction. UX Design at its core does not define a specific process.

Design Thinking is starting with a problem (e.g. people want to read more, but don't have time) and looking for a valid solution (e.g. audiobooks).

User experience is starting from a solution (e.g. audiobooks) and making that work in a user context (e.g. we need an android app that integrates with Google Home to read our audiobooks)

In business speak: Design Thinking = the 'what' User Experience= the 'how'

UX often goes further into the details of the design, like human/computer interfaces, graphics design, interactions, and a whole lot more.

Common in design thinking and UX, both understanding the users using research methods, ideation, rapid prototyping, testing with users.

Thinking is a strong approach to solving such problems since it's a well defined process whereas in UX you will not be able to find a single agreed upon process that defines it.

would say Design Thinking evolved out of principles of UX Design or Design in general.


The story of how IDEO (especially Tom Kelley, David Kelley and Tim Cook) came up with the concept of Design Thinking might be quite useful here.


IDEO is an international design firm started of as a traditional product/service design firm. But, around the turn of the century, they found that their clients reached out to them for solving problems such as organizational design, business, marketing issues in the company - problems which does not come under any traditional purview of Design. The reason for that is because designers have a different approach to problem solving(more human-centered, behavior-focused etc) and sometimes they were able to come up with very innovative solutions and perspectives to problems outside of traditional "design".

Hence, IDEO decided to term the application of design principles as a general problem solving framework as Design Thinking.

User experience design (UXD, UED, or XD) is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and desirability provided in the interaction with a product User experience design encompasses traditional human–computer interaction (HCI) design and extends it by addressing all aspects of a product or service as perceived by users.

Experience design (XD) is the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, omnichannel journeys, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience and culturally relevant solutions.[1]

Experience design is not driven by a single design discipline.

Instead, it requires a cross-discipline perspective that considers multiple aspects of the brand/ business/ environment/ experience from product, packaging and retail environment to the clothing and attitude of employees. Experience design seeks to develop the experience of a product, service, or event along any or all of the following dimensions:

The field of user experience design is a conceptual design discipline and has its roots in human factors and ergonomics, a field that, since the late 1940s, has focused on the interaction between human users, machines, and the contextual environments to design systems that address the user's experience.[3][4] With the proliferation of workplace computers in the early 1990s, user experience started to become a concern for designers. Donald Norman, a professor and researcher in design, usability, and cognitive science, coined the term "user experience", and brought it to a wider audience.[5][6]

Human–computer interaction

Researches the design and use of computer technology

Focused on the interfaces between people (users) and computers.

observe the ways in which humans interact with computers and design technologies that let humans interact with computers in novel ways.

Human–computer interaction is situated at the intersection of computer science, behavioral sciences, design, media studies, and several other fields of study.

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