Characteristics of the Lean UX approach

Lean UX – what does it mean? Is it Agile Development?

While there is a direct connection between Lean UX and Agile Development, these 2 terms cannot be used interchangeably.
Traditional UX techniques often don’t work when development is conducted in rapid bursts, as there’s simply not enough time to produce a heavy load of deliverables. That is why Lean UX goes hand in hand with the Agile Development method.

Lean UX mimics the short iterative development cycles of Agile Development so that UX data can inform the design decisions in every cycle.


What does the Lean UX workflow look like?

Lean UX, like traditional UX focuses on delivering a great User Experience. The difference is that Lean UX is less focused on deliverables and more on obtaining feedback as early as possible so that it can be used to make decisions fast. Quick, and cutting the waste are the keywords here.

Lengthy design projects are split up into smaller milestones, which can be shared with colleagues or users and iterated multiple times with the entire team. “Share, learn, revise, then move onto the next” as CareerFoundry puts it.

In essence, the methodology used in UX is Design Thinking, a user-centric approach which encourages collaborative work in diverse multi-disciplinary expert teams and an open feedback culture. This methodology is also used in Lean UX, just in faster cycles.


How to know what to work on in the Lean UX iteration cycle?

To answer this question, ask yourself what does the user need. Avoid assumptions and keep in mind, you are not the user.


What are the benefits of Lean UX and how will they apply to us?

The greatest advantages of practicing Lean UX are Speed, Transparency, and Alignment. Everyone is directly involved in the entire development process from start to finish and gets information first hand. The milestones are small enough to incorporate feedback quickly. Think about full transparency and real-time communication versus the black box approach of separate teams working in silos.

Less time-consuming meetings, fewer misunderstandings, less blaming, more getting stuff done faster better!


Are there other benefits or potential drawbacks?

While it might be a scary thought for some to speak to a colleague face-to-face, rather than firing off email letters, personal contact can boost effectiveness (

That being said, giving and receiving constructive feedback might not come naturally. It’s important to define rules, provide help, learn and practice the art of feedback to evolve an open feedback culture.

Key to an effective Lean UX approach is to let go of personal ego defending own ideas, to remember who we are designing for, and to embracing failure and ambiguity.


Can the Lean UX approach save us money?

What is more cost and time intense – changing direction on a paper prototype or redesigning a product that is ready for shipment? Failing often early on in the development process or releasing a product onto the market that doesn’t meet the user’s needs?

Clare-Marie Karat, a principal UX consultant and former IBM researcher, stated:

“A rule of thumb is for every one dollar invested in User Experience research you save $10 in development and $100 in post-release maintenance.”

To phrase this differently, the rule of thumb is 1:10:100.

It’s 10 times more expensive to make changes in the development stage, 100 times more expensive to make changes post development.


And lastly, why should we incorporate Lean UX into our business strategy?

Any business does have business objectives. Shorter development processes and a product desired by the users can help to become and stay profitable.