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Incorporating Lean UX into Your Product Development Cycle

Lean UX is a collaborative, iterative method of product design and development, but why is it so crucial?

Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams book was written by Gothelf and published in 2013. He introduced a revolutionary approach in which products were designed and built. Let's break it down:

What is Lean UX?

A collaborative, iterative approach to product design and development is known as lean UX.

Lean UX goes hand-in-hand with an agile methodology, which originates in software companies/startups. The agile methodology is a way to manage a project by breaking it up into several phases and continuous testing and improvements on the way. Lean UX follows a similar process of thinking, building, and testing.

The purpose of lean UX is to leverage the power of collaboration, reduce time wastage, effort, and resources, and experiment and build rapidly to get feedback early on. This input allows for progressive product improvement. That’s lean UX in a nutshell.

What is the Lean UX process?

The lean UX is driven by 3 main concepts: think, make and check. It is a process that keeps going around, with the product developing and advancing every time the cycle is finished and started over.

Lean UX phase 1: Think

The process starts with your assumptions about and understanding of the problem in question. Assumptions are usually gathered through a group brainstorming session, and they sum up what you collectively assume or think you know.

You can make assumptions concerning your users' traits, their objectives for the product you're designing, and their timeline. What will be the main features and functions, and so forth? You'll then formulate a hypothesis based on your assumptions.

Lean UX phase 2: Make

Make involves designing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).You need an MVP to engage your audience and start a feedback-iteration cycle. An MVP might be a landing page for a product that doesn’t exist yet to gauge customer interest. It might be a low-fidelity wireframe that includes only the main features.

Lean UX phase 3: Check

You have something concrete to test and assess once your MVP is in place. In the “Check” phase, you gather feedback on your MVP to invalidate or validate your original hypothesis. This can be achieved through A/B testing, site analytics, and a plethora of user and usability testing tools.

You'll loop back to Phase 1 ("Think") and proceed based on your learnings. Perhaps you need to forgo the initial hypothesis and examine a different issue, or perhaps you need to come up with creative concepts and approaches for the same hypothesis. Either way, you’ll build on the previous cycle and continue to steer the product toward success.

Difference between Lean UX and Traditional UX?

In the traditional UX design process, a designer spends lots of time understanding their users, researching the needs of the users, and finally making the design and launching the product. Whereas lean UX focus is on scoping out the project fully and comprehensively enough so that when the product is designed and developed, it has a good shot with the user’s needs and adequately solves their pain points. This is not to imply that lean UX excludes user research and testing; they are just performed using a more "rapid and dirty" methodology.


Imagine that you and your colleagues are in a meeting and have chosen one concept as the big victor. The rest of your team and you start working on this big conquest concept. You invest a lot of effort and money, the code improves, and eventually, you have a completed product to launch. And you released it. You release your big conquest concept into the world and sit back and wait for the tech review, five-star ratings, and revenue to start rolling in. However, you quickly conclude that the big conquest concept is neither all that big nor all that victorious.

Lean UX is commonly cited as being more collaborative than the traditional UX approach. Instead of working in silos, lean UX adopts short cycles that foster regular communication between designers, developers, product managers, and other stakeholders. While collaboration is still a major aspect of "classic" UX, it is not as continuous as it is in lean UX.

Ultimately, traditional UX favors a more thorough, deliverable, and documentation-heavy approach before designing and building anything, while lean UX puts emphasis on building early on, getting feedback, making quick decisions, and improving along the way.


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