UIEtips: Is There Any Meat on This Lean UX Thing?

Jared Spool

November 30th, 2011

“As we practice Lean UX, it becomes a mindset. It becomes a way of thinking about our development and design process.” That’s what Jeff Gothelf said to me when I asked him to explain all this fuss about Lean UX.

As our clients are moving to more rapid development processes, like Agile’s Scrum, their design teams are looking for ways to infuse their UX work into the process. My recent research shows that Lean UX is one way to get there and it’s getting lots of traction through out the UX community.

In this week’s UIEtips, I discuss what’s been happening to our design processes and why I think Lean UX has real potential to change the way we approach our work. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Read the article: Is There Any Meat on This Lean UX Thing?

As an extra bonus, coming up on Wednesday, December 7, we’ve invited Jeff Gothelf to talk about how he’s using it to get his company, The Ladders, out of the deliverables business. If you’re working in Agile or another fast-moving environment and want to know core essential techniques for good design, you won’t want to miss this virtual seminar. Read the details.

What’s your take on Lean UX? Is it something you’ve been working with? How has it helped you? Share your thoughts below.

6 Responses to “UIEtips: Is There Any Meat on This Lean UX Thing?”

  1. Cliff A Says:

    I’m not so sure about Lean UX, but your history of software development is so right on and valuable. As an old history major, I’m always astounded how a little historical perspective can offer so much valuable insight, no matter the subject. Unfortunately, UX – and many of its practicioners – are so young that that historical perspective is often very lacking.

  2. David Larson Says:

    Thanks for the article, and the opportunity to learn about lean UX.

    For the second time in the last few years, I have been informed that I would be working my UX magic within the construct of an agile development project. But as you mentioned, it seemed to be UX waterfall tacked onto an agile development project.

    While I understand the basic differences between waterfall and agile, what I don’t understand yet is the work flow for the UX activities in an agile project. How do the UX people interface with the rest of the agile team? When does the output of a set of UX activities become an input to the development activities? What does the work breakdown structure look like for a lean UX project?

    Are these the type of things that Jeff will be talking about on the 7th?

  3. Sagar G Says:

    Very good article, thanks.

    While reading the article, I don’t know, I felt like I’ve been using it. I’m Scientific Computing student doing project which is guided by a very senior faculty having more than 30 years of experience. When we were working on the project, initially, people did not understand what this person wants. We were asked to do something and after completing it, its drawback was clearly noticed, sometimes by us and other times by professor.

    We are in the end phase and the product is almost ready. As I went on reading the article, I started feeling proud of my project that unknowingly, even though to the very small extent and not following every step,I’ve used something that ‘current world’ is looking at…this has definitely fueled my interest in the Lean UX

  4. Margaret Says:

    I too enjoy the historical perspective you lay out in the article. Unfortunately, like David Larson, I’m left wondering about the details. OK, so we’re supposed to work with “team collaboration” and “constant discussion” but what exactly do the IA’s produce? Does Lean UX mean one IA and one visual designer sitting with a team of developers to get a product done? This sounds like a return to 2003, before the user experience discipline was fully defined. I can imagine iterating through the hypothesis with the use of some quick and dirty user research techniques, but where does that leave our typical (and useful) information architecture work products?

  5. Andrew Mottaz Says:

    This is a great article, and something we’ve been grappling with. We’re a hybrid agile shop, and have done a lot of work to get UX deeply involved in the agile process. A couple of important points from my perspective: First, collaboration, as you mention, is key. We use prototyping as the “common language” between UX and Development. Start really low-fi, generate lots of ideas, and go higher-fi as necessary while you develop and prune ideas. The Agile idea of getting working software in front of people as soon as possible applies equally to prototypes, and if you can share ideas, build and share prototypes and iterate quickly, by the time your developers start cutting code, you can have way more questions answered, and answered by both developers and UXers.

  6. Rob Fitzgibbon Says:

    Great article and podcast – for firms that have made waterfall, pretty deliverables and high-ceremony processes part of their delivery model, Lean UX will be a difficult paradigm to comprehend, much less adopt!

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