The accuracy of the finite element method and strip method of analysis for calculating the lateral stiffness of steel plate shear wall (SPSW) systems is assessed by making comparisons with experimental findings. Comparisons revealed that while both methods provide acceptable accuracy, they also require the generation of sophisticated computer models. In this paper, two alternative methods are developed. The first one is an approximate hand method based on the deep beam theory. The classical deep beam theory is modified in the light of parametric studies performed on restrained thin plates under pure shear and pure bending. The second one is a computer method based on the truss analogy. Stiffness predictions using the two alternative methods are found to compare well with the experimental findings. in addition, lateral stiffness predictions of the alternate methods are compared against the solutions provided using finite element and strip methods of analysis for a class of test structures. These comparisons reveal that the developed methods provide estimates with acceptable accuracy and are simpler than the traditional analysis techniques. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.