What Is Lean UX And How Can You Implement It?


Due to the highly competitive nature of the digital product development industry, designers are under more pressure than ever before to produce superior products faster than their competition.

When development is done in quick bursts, traditional UX methodologies frequently don’t work because there isn’t enough time to deliver UX in the same way.

As a result, a new era of agile working has emerged, enabling design teams to quickly iterate and get customer feedback early.

Enter Lean UX – a collaborative design approach built on agile working that emphasizes problem-solving and reduces wasted time.

This article will take you through what Lean UX is, why it’s important, what the Lean UX process looks like, and how you can implement it in your organization.


What is Lean UX?

Lean UX is a mindset, culture, and user-centric process that focuses more on design experience than design deliverables.

It embraces the Lean and Agile Development methodology that implements functionality in increments and iterative cycles, determining success by measuring results against a hypothesis put forth by members of the team.

The term was introduced in 2013 by UX designers Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden in their book Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams.

Lean UX heavily relies on a collaborative design approach and rapid experimentation to get end-user feedback as early and quickly as possible.

The ideology takes principles that were originally designed for physical products and adapts them for software-based products/services as well.


How does Lean UX differ from traditional UX?

Lean UX lays more of an emphasis on refining the product as you go along to ensure that the final result is the best it can be, as opposed to traditional UX, which places more of an emphasis on comprehensive deliverables based on the user testing that was completed at the beginning of the project.

Instead of waiting until you have a final product before making the necessary adjustments or enhancements, lean UX constantly asks what modifications and improvements may be made right now.

When it comes to user testing, traditional UX and Lean UX usually adhere to the same principles, but Lean UX is quicker and less rigorous.

Lean UX seeks to remove noise and focus solely on the actual facts in order to determine what adjustments must be made right now. Traditional UX might spend months meticulously evaluating the feedback.

Simply put, Lean UX is seen as learning-oriented while traditional UX is thought of as results-oriented.

You’ll see how the differences play out along the course of this article as we go into the Lean UX process.


Why do you need Lean UX?

Again, Lean UX is a collaborative process and its benefits are applicable throughout the organization. 

Here are a few ways Lean UX can help your design teams:


1. Increased collaboration

By principle, Lean UX teams are cross-functional.

It involves people from across a variety of disciplines – CEOs, CFOs, research teams, marketing teams, design teams, etc – to work together when creating products.

Since each problem is seen from multiple perspectives, these diverse teams create much better solutions. Teams can share information unbiasedly, which creates collaboration earlier in the process and drives greater team efficiency.


2. Better outcomes

This process does not focus on the end product. Instead, it focuses on how the product impacts the user.

No one can predict how effective a certain feature will be until it gets onto the market, and by managing outcomes early on, your team can gain deeper insights into the feature’s efficacy to determine how well it will function in the real world.

The designers are given the freedom to quickly produce minimum viable products based on assumptions, along with the opportunity to see how they perform and if any changes need to be made depending on user feedback.


3. Streamlined feedback loop

A foundational concept of Lean UX is that it’s more beneficial for designers to do, rather than talk about it.

In other words, it’s more valuable to create the first version of an idea than it is to simply sit around in an office talking about what you can do!

Remember, products are not made for your managers. They’re made for your users. 

The most important critique you can get is from your users, and involving them in the process by creating prototypes and allowing them to decide what works and doesn’t is crucial to the success of your product.


4. Improved user research

Again, your users come first.

Of course, that is the case with every design ideology, but what makes Lean UX stand out is that users are directly involved way earlier in the design process.

Your ideas are tested with real-world scenarios, and if a feature doesn’t particularly improve the customer’s experience, it won’t be included in the original plans. 

In turn, your design teams can set targets and have a greater influence on your customers.


The Lean UX process

This design process involves four key stages that loop around constantly until every member decides that what you have in front of you is perfect.

These four stages are:

  • Assumptions and hypothesis
  • Collaborative design
  • Building the MVP
  • Research and learning

Let’s take a closer look at each.


Stage 1 - Assumptions and Hypothesis

Lean UX moves away from what product designers think is necessary and toward their assumptions in order to produce successful results. 

Based on what you know about your users, these assumptions are crucial to creating a starting point for your team, even if you’re absolutely wrong.

A few typical questions you can ask yourself include:

  • Who are our users and what do they use it for?
  • What situations is it used in and when?
  • What’s the biggest delivery risk?
  • What’s the most important function of the product?

From there on, it’s a fairly simple task.

  • You state the belief/assumption, why it’s important, and who it’s important to.
  • You create a hypothesis statement based on your assumptions.
  • You follow your hypothesis with what you expect to achieve.
  • You determine what evidence you need to collect to prove it.

The biggest advantage here is that there is no room for subjective debate because every idea is going to be tested.

If you can’t prove your hypothesis, you’re going in the wrong direction. If you can prove it, voila, you have a winner! 

You can now move on to the next step in the lean design process.


Stage 2 - Collaborative design

This is where you and your team test the hypothesis by actually designing the product.

For instance, let’s say you’re in the early stages of your project. You could test user demand by creating a landing page that measures how many customers sign up for the service you provide.

However, the key term here is “collaborative” design. This process should involve every party that is involved in the design process. 

Designers ought to think of themselves as facilitators of these conversations, ensuring that everyone has an equal say in the outcome of the project.

As your designs develop, there are numerous ways you can organize your meetings and conversations, which takes us to the next step.


Stage 3 - Building the MVP

An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is the most basic expression of your product to see how your users react to it.

It is a version of a new product that enables your team to gather the most validated customer learnings possible with the least amount of work.

The MVPs that exhibit promise can then be easily incorporated into additional design and development rounds.

Your MVPs can come in a variety of different forms. Here are some examples.

  • Wireframes – a low-quality version of your product.
  • Mockups – a larger and more detailed version of your product, complete with designs, colors, and icons.
  • Prototypes – a very basic version of your product, with a simplified design and functionality.

Your MVP is based on your assumptions and hypotheses, and your users’ reactions and feedback are bound to give you a clear idea of whether you’re moving in the right direction.


Stage 4 - Research and learning

While user research and testing are based on the same principles as traditional UX, the approach in Lean UX is far quicker.

The emphasis is much more on raw data than on manual, meticulously documented outputs.

The research responsibilities are also spread widely across the entire team to avoid bottlenecks that can occur in individual silos of information. 

Whether it be through discussions, interviews, surveys, or anything else, your users will participate in this process as well. 

The discussions you have will support your hypotheses, and once you’ve identified your areas for improvement, it’s time to start from scratch and complete everything once more. 

Repeat the process until you have a product that meets the needs of your users. 

Your organizational goal here is to quickly and comprehensively gain insights, and the only way that’s possible is if you research frequently and collaboratively.


How Cubyts helps implement Lean UX into your organization

Lean UX is an ideology and mindset that sets the stage for flawless and seamless collaborative design teams that can instantly quicken any design process. 

Whether you’re a fresher or a design expert looking to get into Lean UX implementation, we have something that can help you kickstart this journey.

For your Lean UX design teams, Cubyts has developed a module that gives you a template with optimal design processes that is readily available to anyone using our platform.

Through our module, which was created specifically to make the process simpler for you to use and understand, you can now plan, create, and implement your Lean UX workflows with the utmost ease.

We hope you gained an insight into the wonders of Lean UX in this article. If you’re looking to step into this design process, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we’d be happy to be of service!