Lean UX is a user experience (UX) design mindset and approach that works well in conjunction with the quick, iterative sprints of an agile team.

Unlike a more traditional UX process, lean UX is focused first and foremost on user testing early and often. The data is then used to identify and create incremental improvements and solutions for a product.

Why Lean UX Is Important to Agile Teams

User experience design encompasses the experience of a product as a whole, from user flows to information architecture to page layout and content.

During a standard UX process, several iterations might be made and tested to see which performs best, then further designed and tested to arrive at a final design. At this point, the design is then passed to the development team who bring it to life in the product itself.

In an agile environment, with sprints that typically last anywhere from one to four weeks, there isn’t time to run through the full UX process that seeks to create a full-bodied design solution. Instead, Lean UX focuses on taking each component one step at a time, testing and solving along the way.

The Lean UX Process

Step 1: Identify the hypothesis

What problem do you need to solve? What new feature or element will address this issue?

The first step of the Lean UX process takes the form of team collaboration, where you work from research data, customer feedback, and competitor comparison/product roadmap to identify areas that need to be improved or added to the product.

Each feature is then spelled out and paired with a hypothesis, or a statement that spells out how this feature will benefit the end user.

Step 2: Make it

Designers and developers work closely together to design, code, and ship the feature during a single agile sprint.

Step 3: Evaluate

Once the feature is live, the team can utilize A/B tests, surveys and other usability testing methods to determine whether the hypothesis was valid. If the feature passes these tests, no further action is needed: it simply remains as part of the product.

For features that don’t add value or delight to the user experience, the team simply brings it back to the drawing board, come up with a new hypothesis, and continue with the cycle until they arrive at a proven solution.