Lean vs Agile UX

Traditional UX

It’s very easy for anyone to think that just because he or she is adopting a Lean and/or Agile approach to his or her UX practice, that all traditional UX principles and practices suddenly somehow vanish. As experience, quality is a very important factor in the success of a product (i.e. one has ten apps to select from that all have similar features, which app do you think most people will choose?), everything that all UX designers have been hawing and hemming about good design principles and usability is as crucial as ever. A good design is simply a good design regardless whether we are living in a lean or agile universe.

Agile UX- Delivery and Collaboration

Agile was developed by enterprise developers. It looks at a software product from a developer perspective. Ultimately, Agile is about high –velocity high-quality delivery of the working software. In Agile’s universe, that is the measure of progress. The original signatories of Agile Manifesto realized that building great software quickly, requires collaborating effectively with people. Agile offers an important paradigm shift about how to communicate and interact with people in your team and even beyond.

So while many UX designers can learn a lot from the Agile thinking on the software delivery, the collaboration part is the perfect pay off for the UX practitioners. Agile UX methods, such as Cross-Functional Pairing and Design Studio, assist UX practitioners replace the slow documents with quick and effective direct interaction. In other words, an Agile UX practice replaces a document-centered practice with a collaboration-centered practice.

Lean UX-measuring and validating the product/market fit

While Agile methods assist UX designers turn the old ways of communicating and designing, Lean UX helps people overturn the old approaches to measuring quality and research. In the traditional approach, research is done before you start to create a new product. In the Lean approach, we continuously build and gather metrics about the product to build.

We can also apply Lean UX to create an easy prototype and GOOB. Many UX designers offer lip-service to a User-Centered Design idea but do not actually spend much face-time with the real users. However, GOOBing both reshapes and rebrands the User-Centered Design idea and also motivates the UX designers to move from their cozy offices and cubicles and take their ideas to the users.

In a Lean model, research for a product is done throughout a product’s design and delivery process. The term Lean originated from lean manufacturing and it means maximizing flow and minimizing waste which is actually a cornerstone of the Agile methods. On the other hand, Lean UX is a reference to Lean startup Steve Blank and Eric Ries, the founders of Lean Startup. Steve Blank was the creator of concepts such as Customer Development which extends the Agile ideas to fully include the methods for ensuring there is a market for your product.

Bottom line on this lean ux vs agile ux discussion;

Whether you use the term Agile or Lean is not very important.what is more important is understanding how Lean and Agile assist make the traditional UX a more whole practice.

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Megan Wilson
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)walkme.com
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