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Design Thinking with Agile Methodology

Design Thinking with Agile Methodology

Design Thinking and Agile Methodology are two of the most popular terms in Product Development. There's a big reason for that. It isn't just a big false buzz around these concepts. Spoiler alert. They're essential for success in our fast-paced, user-centric world. The truth is that there are key differences between them. But still, they share many things in common.

Together, they balance out the design and development tasks. That allows companies to deliver world-class products with a seamless UX. This blog post will help you understand the key differences between these two methods to create products that users adore and love using.

What is Design Thinking?

"Design Thinking is a deeply human process that taps into abilities we all have but get overlooked by more conventional problem-solving practices." — David Kelley, Founder of IDEO

Design Thinking is a user-centric and iterative process that approaches innovation. It garners empathy and rapid collaboration. Also, Design Thinking focuses on users' needs embracing uncertainty and fostering critical thinking. It aims to find real problems and create remarkable potential solutions for them. Designers are the core orchestrators of this method. Yet, it encourages cross-functional collaboration between Project Managers, developers, and stakeholders.

What is Agile Methodology?

Agile is a popular mindset in software development that aims to increase efficiency. It encourages flexibility, speed, collaboration, and high quality. In this process, developers approach a project by splitting it into more manageable chunks. They refer to these chunks as sprints. This approach encourages developers to iterate, adapt, and refine their work. Plus, it allows project managers to assess their performance better. Like Design Thinking, Agile prioritizes users' needs and satisfaction. Some people may argue that it doesn't focus that much on users. Yet, the Agile Manifesto highlights the importance of individuals.

Agile frameworks actively bring Design Thinking solutions to life. They foster continuous communication and an improvement culture. Also, they connect developers, stakeholders, and project managers. This way, teams can address challenges and go the extra mile to exceed users' expectations.

Design Thinking vs Agile Methodology

1. Product Development Life Cycle Stage. Design Thinking methods dictate the beginning of the product development life cycle. It empathizes with users to find a specific problem that needs solving. Based on that, Agile environments come into making these solutions.

2. UI/UX and Development Processes. The Design Thinking Process involves UI/UX Designers and Product Designers, while Agile mainly involves the IT department. That includes Front- and BackEnd Devs, QA testers, DevOps, and Project Managers.

3. Cyclical Process vs. Strict Stages. The principles of Design Thinking involve five main stages that work in sequence. These stages are Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, And Test. In contrast, The Agile process doesn't follow a strict sequential order. Agile is rather cyclical, involving sprints instead of rigid stages.

4. Solutions and Prototypes. Design Thinking finds problems and challenges assumptions through prototyping. An interactive prototype involves a set of wireframes made with tools like InVision, Adobe XD, or Figma. However, the result of the sprints in the Agile process is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Developers build an MVP using programming languages and frameworks.

Design Thinking and Agile Methodology

1. Human-centered Design. The most relevant aspect Design Thinking and Agile development have in common is their focus on users. Design Thinking prompts close user engagement during the Empathy Mapping and Usability Testing stages. Yet, Designers and developers put themselves into users' shoes during the five stages. Similarly, developers incorporate their feedback into every sprint of the Agile process. That's part of how they guarantee top-notch quality and seamless user experience.

2. Feedback-Centered Processes. Designers and developers refine work based on feedback from users and new findings. As a result, both Design Thinking and Agile processes are iterative processes. That non-linear and iterative approach helps designers and developers deliver an innovative solution that users adore and love using.

3. Cross-Functional Teams. As mentioned, Design and Agile promote multidisciplinary teams to collaborate to achieve the best results. It involves business developers and stakeholders aligning actual products with business goals through creative ideas.

Design thinkers and development teams alike can embrace Design Thinking and Agile principles as one. Both methods can boost efficiency and innovation to deliver world-class UX-driven solutions. They can also streamline communication by adopting principles from both approaches. Plus, they can understand users' needs better.

Are you skeptical about this? Let's check some facts. Back in 2018, IBM explained how they work great together in a published paper. It proved that they were the perfect match for each other. They named it Agile, meet Design Process Thinking.

Also, they said Design Thinking helps developers focus on users' satisfaction. A study by IBM and Forrester proved that it could reduce the time for development and testing by up to 33%. Integrating it into Agile sprints helps connect user requirements and business goals. Agile teams may find adopting the design thinking mindset challenging and vice versa. Hence, they recommend having a Design Thinking expert as a coach on Agile teams. Trying "hybrid sprints" and being flexible about innovative ideas is also advisable.


Design Thinking and Agile methods empower digital agencies to create high-quality products. The first places a strong emphasis on users. It delves deeply into the underlying reasons behind their problems. The goal is to understand the "why" of a problem. Then, designers define the solutions that can convey the maximum value. Agile centers on the most efficient ways to deliver these solutions. In other words, the "how" of a project's delivery. Combining both approaches empowers businesses to maximize the value they can provide by defining the viability of ideas. That's how they can stay competitive as they meet and exceed users' expectations.