There are less focus on designers and designing tool startups in China, but there are about 17 million designers in China and 28% of them are product designers, and it’s a huge market itself.

So when you see all those Chinese startups, have you ever wondered how those Chinese designers actually made that product? While Facebook, Google, and many others are inaccesible in China, designing products like Photoshop and Sketch are widely in use. Of course, there needs to be Chinese interpretation of these foreign designing tools, and that’s where Lanhu, a Beijing-based startup comes in.

“Lanhu (蓝湖) means Blue Lake in Chinese. By using our product, we wanted our users to relax,” the co-founder and product manager of Lanhu, Zhu Feng told TechNode.

Lanhu is an online product design team collaboration platform for UI designers, product managers, and engineers. The problem that they found in the working process was when designer and developers communicate and collaborate.

“We had inner need to collaborate between developers and designers, and we created the first version of Lanhu. Then other companies started using it, and slowly it went viral and started to spread out with word of mouth. It was December 2016 that we decided to wholly focus on Lanhu,” Zhu Feng said.

For example, when a developer sends a file and or an image to the designer, the designer has to accept it, download it, and there can be miscommunication about which one is the final version. Even using email and WeChat, the team has to download files on their computer. Lack of an efficient collaboration mechanism may lead to tremendous waste of resources at work, and Lanhu provides an interface where all members can access the file and edit it together, just like Google Docs. The way the tool works is similar to Western players like prototyping tool Invision and Zeplin, a collaboration app for UI designers and frontend developers.

“After designers finish editing an image, they have to process it. So after using Sketch and Photoshop to edit pictures, designers manually mark all that elements, and Lanhu helps them mark the elements automatically,” Feng noted.

The Beijing-based company officially launched China’s first professional product design collaboration platform “Lanhu” on November 1, 2017. Lanhu’s free version is B2C, and there’s business version, where the company gives more data security for businesses to keep their private resources and have privacy settings.

“Today, there are a large number of internet companies. In the fierce market competition, product iteration speed is the magic weapon for internet companies to stand out from the crowd,” Yanghui Ren, founder and CEO of Lanhu remarked. “Lanhu’s goal is to become the Microsoft’s Office of the internet age, to establish collaboration standard among individuals, departments, and companies.”

As of November 1, 2017, the collaboration tool startup iterates 52 product versions, modifying 641 requirements; has 230,000 registered users, of which 85% are designers, product managers accounting 6%, engineers accounting for 9%; and average daily usage time of 100 minutes.

“In the future, Lanhu will be carrying more scenarios for more roles to provide intelligent services to reduce duplication of roles between individuals, departments, and companies. By enhancing the docking efficiency, we’ll build a truly intelligent product design collaboration platform,” Zhu Feng said. “Lanhu aim to have 1 million users next year.”

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at

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