Lean UX & Design Thinking
2 min
July 2, 2019

Lean ux and design thinking: what are the differences?

The two concepts are very similar. In fact, Lean UX is a simplified version of design thinking. Both philosophies have their advantages, depending on the project context.

Lean UX is a simplified version, using only the rapid methods of design thinking. It enables rapid testing.

In comparison, design thinking is a longer process, where a large part of the upstream work consists of putting ourselves in the user's shoes.

Design thinking

The key word is: experience. Right now, it's not really the technology or the product that's important, but the experience offered to its users. He uses the same problem-solving methods that designers use to innovate their products, as well as experiments.

Born in the 50s, but formalized in 1987 with Peter Rowe's book, design thinking has not just one model, but several.

The different models

5 Stages

The standford d.school model

This model proposes five stages - Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing - which logically follow one another, but which it is not obligatory to follow. Several cycles are required.

The double diamond
Design Council's double diamond model

Consisting of 4 distinct phases - Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver - it's a visual representation of the design process. It illustrates divergent thinking (number of ideas created) before refining and reducing its number to finally arrive at the best (convergent thinking).
Design Council website

Design sprint by Google

After testing over 300 business and design strategies... Google has developed an approach specifically for digital products. Developed in 2010 and adapted from the Standford d. School and the design council's double diamond model, they have added notions of agility, as well as a focus on prototyping and testing. There is a divergent phase and a (longer) convergence phase.
Google website

Why use it?


Our methodology puts people at the heart of our thinking and decision-making.

A picture is worth a thousand words 

Instead of talking about it as a feature, it's quicker to design and test it.

Exploration (divergence) 

With design thinking, the first phase is to explore the problem before seeking to generate a solution.

Lean UX

In a nutshell, the aim is to design quickly and iteratively, putting the user at the heart of the process. Lean UX takes the form of workshops with team members, helping to build a shared vision of the project and strengthen team cohesion.

This method is part of the Agile methodology from which it originates. It speeds up the process and reduces the extent of UX research that can block the start of an urgent project.

According to evangelist Jeff Gothelf, the method rests on 3 foundations:


Understanding the context and difficulties encountered by users


Imagining solutions to problems


Measure and discard if it doesn't produce the expected result.

Why use it?

When developing a project, we often move forward blindly. We work from doubt to certainty. Lean UX reduces risk by testing early and quickly.

It doesn't matter how many great ideas you design, if you're convinced you're meeting a need, you're never really sure you're hitting the bull's-eye. To do this, you need to test with end-users and adjust quickly. For example, Amazon is able to deploy new features in production every 12 seconds. This enables it to test certain hypotheses and thus achieve a solid user experience over the long term.

What type of project can I use it for?

With workshops lasting from one to five days, the method delivers rapid results.

This method is well-suited to product development or projects requiring thoughtful development of functionalities (e.g. web or mobile applications, particularly in agile mode). On the other hand, in contractual mandates or those requiring a great deal of graphic design, it is more difficult to implement, as it requires continuous improvement.

In my process, I use Lean UX during the research and ideation phase.

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