Quantum UX vs Design Thinking. Top 5 differences and quick guide

Design Thinking vs Quantum UX Differences

Design Thinking vs Quantum UX

Due to the uniqueness of QUX and its fluid features, definitions alone may not be enough to understand how to use this paradigm.

A good way to understand the difference with other frameworks or UX paradigms is a visual comparison. Since the most used paradigm is Design Thinking (or DT), we are going to make a graphical comparison of the differences between Design Thinking vs Quantum UX.

Design Thinking Steps
Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test (and Iterate): the steps of Design Thinking

First of all, let’s see the definition of Design Thinking :

(…) a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

Tim Brown, CEO at IDEO

As we can see, Design Thinking is a linear and technically infinite process to generate rigid structures.

In contrast, Quantum UX has a clearly defined process that generates fluid pseudo-structures.

Another important difference: while Design Thinking is supposed to be part of UCD (User Centered Design), it really is Product Centric.

And it’s easy to see in any Design Thinking process:

  • It starts with a product idea or need. This stage is called “Empathize” because designers are supposed to empathize with users.
  • then it goes through a problem definition process
  • then it goes through ideation (that is, to ideate a solution for the problem above)
  • then the product or service is prototyped and iterated based on internal analysis
  • then it is tested. User Research and Data Driven based iterations start at this stage

OK, at this point there are a few critical things that are clear:

  • Designers must empathize with users. This is the cause for many UX projects fails, and why many people considers it as a product centric process
  • Users have nothing to do with ideation. Rather, they are subjects who are presented with an idea and can only say whether they like it or not.
  • The process is always focused on the product. Users only experience what is offered to them

Please note that the items above are not by me, but just some of the criticisms that Design Thinking faces. However, we must understand that DT is just a “son of his time”, and that at the time this UX approach was revolutionary and laid the foundations for the current “state of the art”.

Criticism about DT and its “shortness” started almost a decade ago, as a matter of fact you can track an old article from ForbesIs Design Thinking The New TQM?“. The article actually compares DT to TQM (short for “Total Quality Management”, a framework for manufacturing processes that predated the 80s) and mentions all the good things from both frameworks, but also why Design Thinking was in danger of becoming obsolete because of it rigid approach (which is not as rigid as many people thinks, as we are at it)

Is Design Thinking the opposite of Quantum UX?

QUX is not opposed to Design Thinking or any other approach. In fact, it can coexist and have contact points or overlapping planes.

Of course, the coexistence of different approaches requires very careful planning.

Design Thinking vs Quantum UX Infographic
In this infographic we compared Design Thinking to Quantum UX. We can see they both have weaknesses and strengths. (click to enlarge)

In general terms, we can say that QUX can take a project created with any other approach. The opposite is very difficult (if not impossible).

On the other hand, QUX cannot be applied in any circumstance. Its great power has an obvious limitation: it is difficult to use in small projects or with very limited budgets.

This barrier is less and less important, since QUX as a framework grows as fast as technology and feeds on it, just as it would in a project. That same growth makes the difficulties (which are real) diminish day by day.

Also, it’s somehow difficult to use in Product Design (that is, physical UX, ergonomics, urban UX, etc.), but it is ideal for Customer Experience (CX) and Service Design.

However, the paragraph above has a HUGE but…

Universal UX and Sensorial UX are a huge part of QUX

QUX and Sensorial UX 3D image
QUX and Sensorial UX goes hand in hand

At this point, you might be thinking:

“OK, QUX is a high tech framework that is completely out of reach for most people and companies, so it’s nearly impossible to apply”.

This is correct. Somehow.

This being said, remember that QUX is multidimensional. That is: it exists and delves in different dimensions. We’re talking about real Quantum Physics here, but also about the dimensions between physical, virtual and sensory.

I recommend you to read the article about Sensorial UX since it explains things more in depth. However, to summarize things a bit: both Sensorial / Sensory UX and Universal UX create countless experiences that goes beyond what we can design or even anticipate as an outcome. Exactly the same as… Quantum UX!

The difference is that Sensorial UX and Universal UX navigate fluidly between different dimensions, creating QEl that recombine as a fluid subjective experience.

Let’s take an example: we have data analysis that tells us that a user likes a certain pair of jeans. She also searched for a specific perfume and beach travel destinations.

Now, imagine how easy would be for us to have a screen displaying that pair of jeans in a store. And a mechanism that sprays a subtle cloud of that perfume. And a speaker that has a subtle sound of a beach. And at the same time the user gets a notice for a discounted travel ticket for that beach.

You don’t need to imagine anything: we’re triggering cell brains that associate those stimuli and feel the user’s brain with dopamine. Chances are this user will buy one or all of these products, because we lowered the threshold of resistance to her desires by using sensorial cues.

Now, you don’t need any of this analytical data. You do not need to know absolutely anything about the user’s search history or their tastes. We can do that, and the stimuli will still be there, creating a state of attention (at the very least).

Of course, maybe we’ll be wrong with the choice of jeans or her taste in perfume.

But if we expose users to such stimuli, we will surely have more sales than we would have if we did not use them.

There’s nothing out of this world on the above, no magic or tricks, just behavioral psychology.

The important thing to keep in mind is that QUX makes extensive use of technology, but it can use Sensorial UX as strategy (and same would happen with Universal UX)

The 5 top differences between Design Thinking and Quantum UX

So, as you can see, there are many differences between both approaches. While they serve to the same purpose, they’re almost completely different in their approaches.

So, to summarize, these could be the 5 TOP differences between both approaches.

Product vs User Centric

UCD (User Centric Design) is at the core of UX. And Design Thinking is supposed to be a UCD paradigm. But as explained above, it’s definitely a product centric design paradigm. Nowadays, very few people will argue that.

On the other hand, QUX isn’t necessarily User Centric either. It goes beyond that. We could even say it’s user/company/product centric, all of it at the same time.

However, QUX’s core is the user, despite all other components of the equation. In that sense, comparing both frameworks, QUX is user centric and DT is product centric.

Another thing to consider: Design Thinking uses HCI, Quantum UX uses XCI


As we can see, a Design Thinking process is linear. At best, it has recursive iterations and steps.

On the contrary, in QUX linearity is limited to the design of algorithms. From there, the process is completely amorphous, independent, and unpredictable.


In DT, scalability is very limited, if not completely nil. Within the same process, scalability will be given by the iterations. Otherwise, a process will have to be created completely from scratch.

In QUX, scalability is theoretically infinite and does not require any intervention other than the adjustment of some variable. In the medium-long term, this results in very low costs that offset the high initial costs.

Application and Use

Design Thinking is a methodology that can be used in multiple types of projects, both digital and physical, with minimal financial and human resources. In that sense, Design Thinking is far superior to QUX.

On the contrary, Quantum UX is of more limited application since it requires highly specialized and trained personnel and high costs of implementation and maintenance. At least at the time of writing this article.


Design Thinking is aimed at a specific problem to solve. Or in any case, a limited set of problems. It is the main characteristic of Design Thinking: Identify A PROBLEM and empathize with the users’ vision of said problem.

Quantum UX takes a different approach: starting from a goal (most of the time monetary, obviously, or some kind of KPI), it generates diverse solutions in real time to all kinds of problems it encounters through user interaction.

Summary: Which one of Design Thinking and Quantum UX is better?

I don’t think either of them is better than the other.

OK, as the creator of a theory trying to overcome the existing paradigm with a new and improved one, I could (or should) say Quantum UX. And I am convinced that it will be, in due course.

However, intellectual honesty forces us to note that QUX is still in development, has serious technological and economic obstacles and is not widespread. While Design Thinking is a mature, consolidated and easy-to-use methodology.

I honestly think more than asking “which is better?” the question should be “which one should I use?” And there the answer would depend on the available resources, goals and needs.

Theoretically, there is no way that a technological framework that works in real time using AI and Machine Learning can be overcome by a linear process, limited and carried out by a small group of people. In case anyone has any questions, the Simple QUX process is the one used by Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc.

But as an accessible paradigm for the vast majority of companies or projects, QUX is not yet a tangible reality.

Therefore, for the moment, and as a general case, if I had to choose a methodological process for a project, I would say that Design Thinking is better.

But I also say: that is going to change.

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