Lean UX: What Not to Do



Lean product and software development allows developers to produce products quickly and encourages focus on getting key feature sets to the User. Unfortunately, we have have seen true User Experience Research and User-Centered Design get lost in the process of becoming a lean organization.

I have broken down 2 areas where Lean UX can go wrong:

1. When Lean goes wrong with UX

  • Forcing developers to design
  • Pretending surveys are the UX silver bullet
  • Depending solely on quantitative measures

Developers are no more designers than they are Users (rule #1 of UX is you are not the User). By falling prey to these three mistakes you’ll end up with a poorly designed product with inadequate measurements. The worst part about that is you run the risk of thinking you’re fine, until it’s too late. Other qualitative techniques provide a deeper and richer understanding of the consumer’s needs. These techniques reveal not just the ‘what’ but also the ‘why’ which is much more powerful and enables you to carry knowledge forward and design on purpose.

2. When UX teams go wrong with Lean

  • Not measuring results
  • Telling people they’re doing it wrong
  • Conflicting with lean culture or process

Making these mistakes as a UX professional in a lean environment can be devastating both for the company and your career. Causing conflict in an environment already stressed from the challenges of going lean makes you difficult to work with and breaks one of the principles of lean “respect people.” Also, by not measuring your results to show concrete improvements you and maybe even your whole practice appear to be a “waste,” which is to be eliminated in a lean production.

Too many times we see companies skimp on UX because it can be difficult to understand how to fit traditional UX approaches into the lean process. Instead, they simply hope that the quick response times to the resulting failings will be enough to stay ahead of the competition.

One concept crucial to Lean UX is to establish concretely what you already know in terms of proven UX knowledge, and what you still need to test. Understanding these things will allow your UX to operate as quickly as development in order to maintain the rhythm needed to succeed in Lean UX.

User Insight helps many of their clients who are “going lean” by providing the ongoing knowledge and expertise they need to grow and develop. We can work with entire scrum teams to help produce more user-centric products. Jeff Hutkoff (@hutkoff) Mobile Products Manager at The Weather Channel says, “The training has been invaluable for helping to turn non-product people into true product people even though they’re developers by trade, they’re artists, they’re quality assurance folks, they’re scrum masters, these people have all embraced the customer which is what we’re trying to do.”


For more information on how we can help your company, Contact our team at and don’t forget to Follow Us on Twitter @userinsight

Jeff Hutkoff will be speaking at Lean Day: West ( Portland, OR on Lean UX and The Weather Channel’s Travel feature which was designed using User Insight’s Ongoing Insights model.