Difference between lean and agile UX

For someone conversant and interested in new technologies, it’s a whirlwind of terms. UX, IxD, CX, UCD, guerrilla research, emotional design, strategic UX, etc all seem to be fancy names for the name things. Keywords in resumes are getting more ‘cool’ and at the same time more complicated. This is the same when one talks about lean UX and agile UX. Many think that both these terms refer to the same end – the connection between design and product development. Both aims towards making designing faster, both implicate a broader user experience and both bring in tools that facilitate the processes. So, why are there two different terms for the same thing? Let’s check out the differences.

Difference between lean and agile UX

What is Agile UX?

The agile revolution is rooted in software creation. In the days of the past, design wasn’t as valued an asset as it is today. Consequently, less attention was paid to its form and less investment was made in designers. Software development was all about being able to deliver results – the look of the interfaces didn’t matter.

However, design gradually became important for a more functional product. It facilitated a better user experience, easier handling of interface, intuitive user interaction and consequently, a faster understanding of the product. Agile design concept followed a simple set of principles:

  • Interactions and individuals against tools and processes
  • Working software against comprehensive documentation
  • Change response against following plans
  • Customer collaboration against contract negotiations

These are still the golden guidelines that are being used to develop agile digital products. To be a fit for the new concept, UX (user experience) need to change focus and working techniques. Agile UX today, essentially unifies designers and developers to support a more intuitive and easy product development.

What is Lean UX?

The main difference between Agile UX and Lean UX proceeds from the ‘startup culture’. Startups, as businesses in competition, are expected to deliver products as fast as they can and develop better sales strategies for the business to survive. Thus, it is essential that a vast amount of knowledge in the form of data and information is gathered to serve the iterations of a product. The goal of Lean UX is to present the best way to develop a minimum viable product and push it towards the customers as fast as possible. Generally, the process involves bringing out the core product first, checking its market demand/acceptance and then bringing out newer versions/updates to realize a better adoption. The lean development process involves several learning loops, involving build – measure – learn.

It’s a lean UX if a product is being constantly updated by gathering customer/user feedback. Thus Lean UX requires better understanding of customer behavior, giving it the alternative name of “Executed UX”.

Which is better?

Agile UX bring out a more polished product from its onset but Lean UX would support several versions of product that is constantly being polished/refined. The method you choose would thus depend on the type of product you are working at.

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