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What is Lean UX?

NYC-CHI Lean UX Roundtable, April 2012

Jonathan Berger, Pivotal Labs


I'm @jonathanpberger

My background

is in

  • philosophy and then
  • design and now
  • development

I started as a self-taught designer

  • I worked on Spot.Us and
  • I found Agile and fell in love and
  • I wanted to bring Agile to Design


I build products every day at @pivotallabs


What is Lean UX?


  • Combines Customer develoment + Agile development
  • Minimizes think-make-check cycle time
  • Reduces waste

What is Agile UX?


  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

How does Lean UX differ from Agile UX?

  • "Agile UX" is a half-born meme which never really took off.
  • "Lean UX" is gaining traction thanks to LUXr, 'Getting out of the deliverables business', and others.

What should team structure look like to

support Lean UX?

I'm glad you asked!

  • Automated testing
  • Design pairing
  • Shared ownership of "code"

THINK: Design Pairing

  • Functional and/or cross-functional
  • PROS: higher quality work, vetted by two heads, fewer ratholes, helps focus, more fun, more intense, spread knowledge, promote shared project ownership, shorter ramp-up

MAKE: Getting out of the...

  • Jeff's got this one covered.
  • See also: Style Guide Driven development.

CHECK: Automated Design Testing

  • Use Img diffs to find regressions; this is a rough automated test to find side-effects. It doesn't replace human eyes, it just directs them.
  • Tools like Infomaki or Obie's Business-Driven Development may help.
  • This may allow design refactoring (at least on the implementation side)

Problems with Lean UX

  • The impedence problem: Design and dev operate at different rhythms, and syncopating them can be difficult.

  • Selling Lean can be tough, both

    • Upstairs (to the client)
    • Sideways (to client design resources)


@jonathanpberger on twitter, github, forrst, flickr, etc etc etc


@jonathanpberger on twitter, github, forrst, flickr, etc etc etc for this deck in HTML