Lean UX, Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience by Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden



“Lean UX”, Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience, by Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden, describes a design process beneficial to UX Designers. Applying systems analysis principles, Lean UX describes how to integrate the practice into a design team.  Agile is a development methodology and deals with UX design; it is iterative design that uses product feedback to improve the user experience and the implementation process. The first two chapters discuss 4 core principals of agile development to product design.


The first principle is “Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools”, which engages the entire team, the ideas flow freely and frequently, and use collaborative tools that help facilitate this line of communication. Examples of collaboration tools are; for wireframing: Axure, InVisionApp, for sharing documents; Google Drive, Visual Studio, SharePoint, or Wiki Team pages.


The second principle is “Working software over comprehensive documentation”, to build workable software/User Interfaces quicker, to assess if the solution is market fit and determine its viability. You can measure and assess the user interface’s viability through thorough user testing and gathering user feedback.


The third principle is “Customer Collaboration over contract negotiation”. This phase foster’s collaboration with teammates and customers to brainstorm an understanding of the problem and proposed solutions. Following these principles produces faster iterations and heavy documentation of the user interface. If you do not follow this approach, you won’t have solid requirement documents for the user interface.


The fourth principle is “Responding to change over following a plan”, after the initial product design, discover what’s working and what’s not, and adjust proposals and test again. This is a valuable approach that recognizes in agile design plans must be flexible.


A great quote from the book defines what the practice of Lean UX is: “Lean UX is the practice of bringing the trust nature of a product to light faster, in a collaborative, cross-functional way that reduces the emphasis on thorough documentation while increasing the focus on building a shared understanding of the actual product experience being designed.”


Having cross-functional teams are beneficial in the process of Lean UX. Cross-functional teams should be involved in creating your product. They are a mix of software engineers, product management, and should be involved in the interaction design, visual design, content strategy, marketing, and quality assurance process. All play a role in a Lean UX team. This is continuous till the end of the project life cycle.  Ideally, there should be a total of 10 people on a team, on one project at the same location.  The 10 people can consist of: software engineers, products management, interaction design, visual design, content strategy, marketing, and quality assurance. While in practice a team member can wear multiple hats, it is important that each member approach their contribution from their unique perspective. If it is a multiple hat style team it is beneficial to get additional input from stakeholders and users of the interface.


“Lean UX measures progress in terms of explicitly defined business outcomes.” A UX Designer should manage the business outcomes and make progress towards them, and figure out the efficiency of the products features. If a feature is not working well, the UX Designer should make an objective decision to keep, change or replace the features.


A project focus team is important to have within the Lean UX process.  The UX Designer should assign teams to solve problems and this shows trust in the teams. They will come up with their own solutions to the problems. One team assigned to a project. This also highlights the value of team ownership of the solution. With trust comes a commitment that each member of the team is valuable to the overall solution.


The book suggests keeping inventory low and to make the inventory high quality.  Design is necessary to move the team forward and avoid a big inventory, which are untested, or unimplemented design ideas. Keep engaging customers during the design and development process.  Also keep to regularly scheduled activities relating to quantitative and qualitative methods. This also implies group knowledge of milestones. Everyone on the project should be aware of decision points, and presentation deadlines. Know what the users are doing with the product and why they are doing it. Do Research on a regular schedule and involve the entire team. Avoid rock stars, gurus, and ninjas; it is not a good habit to have them in a workplace because “other elite experts of their craft break down team cohesion and eschew collaboration”. Use whiteboards, foam core boards, artifact walls, printouts, and sickly notes to share and analyze the teams work progress to other teammates, colleagues, and customers. Make sure to talk to customers in the field and develop potential scenarios. Going out of the building is a good way to do this process. Performing active listening liaison with sponsors and stakeholders. Look to see how is not providing input and go out of your way to touch base with them. Get a complete picture of the stakeholders’ requirements.


In addition, the book mentions to learn first and scale second. Making sure an Idea is right comes before scaling it out which “mitigates the risk inherent in broad feature deployment”. Also find out the project outcomes the team is achieving. It entails a cross-functional collaboration involving the stakeholders and the team.


A UX Designer should apply the principles learned in the “Lean UX” book, to define the “team’s makeup, location of research/user testing, goals, and practices”.  The first two chapters is a good start to towards constructing a Lean UX process. The Lean UX process will lead towards more faster and functional solutions and solid teamwork process and outcomes. It will also provide a means of preventing some common UX pitfalls, which come from poor team/users/stakeholder’s communications, and poor non-flexible planning.




How to Make User-Friendly Forms (Part 2/2)

This is a continuation of the 39 Guidelines, the second part, After Filling out the Form. 

39 Guidelines for UX Designers and Developers

After filling out the Form (Part Two):

32. Format forms for printing – The form should have a printing version setup, so the user can print out their details on what they had filled out in the form of the form itself.

33. Allow users to see their entered data – Provide a summary for users to review the completed form data before submission. Also it is beneficial for users to see their data in the input fields while filling out the form.  

34. Allow simple searches – to mine through form data

35. Confirmation Email - Figure out if gradually engagement solution will work for the website, it is a great way to present “customers an understanding of how they can use your service and why they should care.” A confirmation email which is a part of the gradually engagement solution, will provide users with the authentication of their submitted form(s) or their potential next steps .

36. Being able to view old requests/data being stored – Providing users a summary of the submitted form data.

37. Easy to edit form elements before submitting form-This makes sure the user will double check their answer and correct a possibly wrong answer before submitting the form.

38. Have a "save draft" button - which shows the user a review of their
online form and a "submit button" submit the information/form into the

39. The review form - shows what answers has been chosen by the user and
what files have been attached before the submission of the form.

In conclusion, the two books "Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability (Interactive Technologies)" by Caroline Jarrett and Gerry Gaffney and "Web Form Design" by Luke Wroblewski are an excellent way to create user-friendly web forms. A UX Designer should fit the two sets of guidelines I gathered from the books and usability.gov into the UX process lifecycle. 



I read two books and analyzed the methodology on creating user-friendly online forms (webforms) from, "Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability (Interactive Technologies)" by Caroline Jarrett and Gerry Gaffney and "Web Form Design" by Luke Wroblewski.


The book, "Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability talks about the process on how to create good forms in an easy to read format. The kinds of forms mentioned in the book are for registration, communicating, commerce, and for the government. The authors explain “how to deal with instructions, progress indicators, and errors”.  There are great examples of form making in the book. It also gives tips to make sure the forms contain accurate data for the users and suggestions on how to user test the forms. This is a great book to read, and I used this book to help create my form making guidelines.


The author, Luke Wroblewski, of the book, "Web Form Design" has worked with many big name clients, such as Yahoo! and eBay.  He gives great advice on how to make effective and engaging web forms. He goes over the details of form structure, form elements, and form interaction. This is also a fantastic book on how to make user-friendly forms and I also used this book in collaboration with the other book to create the guidelines below.




I’d like to thank Jessica Enders Principal of Formulate Information Design, a leading - expert of fixing webforms. She had emailed me a suggestion to find these two wonderful books with her suggestions to include them to improve my process.