This site is under construction

back to journal

Agile UX vs Lean UX: Basic Principles & Differences in 2024

Written By Zainab Aftab | Last Modified On April 22, 2024

Agile UX and Lean UX are both practices developed for optimizing the UX design process for developers and customers. Agile UX is adopted by teams working on UX design using agile principles. It unifies developers by promoting collaboration among agile team members. By using iteration in Agile UX, developers achieve high quality in their UX design.

Lean UX is a lean software development technique used with Agile to obtain feedback as early as possible so that developers can involve in quick decision-making. Both terms are used for improving the operations in a UX design project, but these two approaches have some differences. Read this article to learn the differences between agile UX vs Lean UX and what are the benefits of both.

What Is Agile UX?

Agile UX is the integration of agile software techniques with UX design methods. The agile UX design method aims to unify software developers through agile development and enhance output. This method has been proven successful in UX design and is trending.

Although you can use many design techniques to improve your product’s UI/UX design, agile can make the SDLC more convenient for designers. The reason is that it provides a complete framework for planning a UX design project. It requires a UX expert or specialist on the agile team to lead and monitor the integration of agile development in the project.

Read more about Best Practices for UI and UX

What Is Meant by Lean UX?

Now let’s find out what precisely the lean UX approach is. Lean UX is the name of a mindset and culture that implements lean-agile methods through minimum viable increments. It is a derivative of the lean manufacturing approach applied to UX design for scaling the results against a benefit hypothesis.

Lean UX mimics the iterative nature of agile development. In lean UX, you are focused not just on the deliverables but on the improvements that could mold a better outcome for the product. It uses a problem statement rather than a requirements-focused plan to create assumptions for a hypothesis.

Principles of Agile UX

Agile UX has four basic principles which designers have to follow in any project:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  4. Responding to change by following a plan.

Principles of Lean UX

Lean UX has a set of 7 principles:

  1. Reduce Waste
  2. Increase learning
  3. Decide as late as possible
  4. Deliver as fast as possible
  5. Empower the project team
  6. Build integrity in the team
  7. See the whole

Differences Between Agile UX vs Lean UX

Let’s kick start the debate between agile UX vs lean UX. You might be wondering if Lean UX is a part of the agile development approach, then what is the difference? Well, as similar as these two methodologies are, there are some differences in how they work. Here is a list of the main differences between both terms.

  1. Both techniques adopt different routes for the execution of a UX project.
  2. Agile UX focuses on producing a polished end product, whereas lean UX is focused on creating several polished versions of a product and choosing the end one with the best quality.
  3. Lean is more conscious of time management vs agile.
  4. Lean UX cares more about improving the end user’s experience through creativity, but agile UX believes in a team effort in agile development for better outcomes.
  5. Agile UX gives more attention to shared communication between all those involved in software delivery and development.
  6. Lean focuses more on the matching degree of the product and market.
  7. Lean UX is concerned more about using the right tools instead of following a rigid plan for the project.

Pros & Cons of Agile UX vs Lean UX

Until now, we have learned the fundamental differences between agile UX vs Lean UX and the actual meaning of both terms. Both methodologies are helpful in UX projects and provide excellent outcomes. But like any other method, these two also have a few cons that need to be acknowledged with their pros. Let’s learn the pros and cons of both terms.

Pros of Agile UX

  • In agile UX, each project is divided into smaller sub-projects, which makes it easier to execute each task carefully.
  • Each task is visible and is carefully tested.
  • This method improves the responsive ability of a project.
  • This method mitigates risk in the product development process.
  • Agile UX provides improved accessibility.
  • Aligns product teams in following common goals.
  • Agile UX promotes collaboration over competition.
  • The final product becomes a perfect fit for users’ requirements as each prototype is continuously tested.
  • It creates designs that people both like and relate to.
  • It is a problem-solving approach. Therefore, it helps you solve many web design mistakes.

Cons of Agile UX

  • As it focuses more on the efficiency of software, it sometimes neglects design.
  • The hectic task of planning for the current and future sprints puts a heavy burden on UX designers.
  • It is a never-ending process, as you always do iterations for continuous improvement.
  • The iterative workflow that has to be conducted in a short amount of time sometimes makes it difficult for designers to conduct research and testing carefully.
  • As it is a collaborative process, it becomes hard for people to catch up who join the team in the later stages of the project lifecycle to do so.

Pros of Lean UX

  • It is easier for teams to adjust and start working on the new concept of the product.
  • Early testing helps in the successful launch of the designed product.
  • The target audience is involved in the validation of the right prototype of the core product with the main features.
  • It promotes a healthy work environment for teams.
  • You can quickly adapt the framework to your team’s specific requirements and dynamics.
  • It moves away from the hectic documentation process.
  • It focuses on reducing waste in a UX project which helps to reduce costs significantly.
  • It highlights the importance of rapid experimentation and measurement.

Cons of Lean UX

  • In the goal of moving fast in SDLC, many organizations ignore fixing issues in the UX.
  • It focuses on making the product quicker rather than making the process more nimble.
  • It lacks collaboration among team members.
  • As you have to make quick decision-making, many team conflicts can arise.
  • The relationship with stakeholders and their involvement in the project is not very good.

Which Type of UX Is Better?

Nowadays, we are introduced to new terminologies like sandbox development, agile UX, Lean UX, waterfall methodology, etc, every day to master the art of UX designing. Choosing a UX project management strategy better suited for your company is essential. Choosing the right approach helps you integrate your processes and achieve your vision for the project.

But don’t worry! We can help you choose Agile UX or Lean UX for your design project.

When choosing the right UX strategy for your project, there is no perfect answer at all. But the best thing to do is choose a more comfortable strategy for you and your team. You might use different strategies for different projects.

Do not focus on which strategy is currently trending, but choose the one according to the requirements of your end product. If you want to reduce the costs of your project and deliver faster, lean UX is the road for you.

If you can ensure collaboration among the team and are looking for quality assurance, move to agile UX.

Is It Better to Choose Lean and Agile UX Together?

In the debate of agile UX vs lean UX, many designers forget that these are complementary approaches that can be used together instead of choosing one over the other.

With regard to UX design, it’s feasible to apply the two methodologies in your design process. By following agile UX, we can break future design processes into a rundown of individual parts (i.e., design elements) and utilize Lean UX to focus on fulfilling the client’s necessities in each part.

Then, the project group will concentrate on building the main features of UX design. The testing method for both agile UX and lean UX is quite similar, so you can use either of them to ensure continuous testing. After that, the group approves the final arrangement of the product by testing it with genuine clients/customers.

The results obtained from testing will let the group know whether it tackled the right issue for their clients. And using the lean method for estimating and approving will let the group know regardless of whether they are moving in the correct course.

So to summarize, we can say that designers should use agile and lean UX together and make their design stand out from competitors.

How Lean and Agile Approach Help Designers in Creating Better Design?

Some designers believe that agile and lean UX are competitive approaches and are very different from each other. But that is not the case! A blend of both approaches can reap better outcomes for your project. Also, choosing any of the two can help create discipline in your team. Both methods help create a better quality design that attracts your target audience.

After all, both are user-centric approaches that integrate user feedback in each design stage. Lean UX enables design processes to be implemented in all aspects of the business. Lean-Agile UX helps designers integrate critical values in the design, ultimately enabling development teams to ship working software and valuable experiences to customers using short product cycles. And there are also tons of other benefits which the lean-agile UX approach provides. Therefore, it is beneficial in every aspect for designers to implement these methods in their projects.

What Is the Lean UX Canvas Tool?

UX consultant Jeff Gothelf uses a popular workshop tool called “Lean UX Canvas”. The purpose of this tool is to serve as a step-by-step guide for UX designers to analyze the current landscape of business and customer needs. It also acts as a catalyst for the creation of hypotheses validation in Lean UX management.

This tool helps UX teams focus on business problems, outcomes, and customers’ persona and convert assumptions from these into hypotheses. Furthermore, it guides designers in testing the most critical hypotheses.


Agile UX vs Lean UX debate helps us to learn the importance of both methods in product design. Both have pros and cons, but if you are to use agile or lean, any of these two will ultimately help you in project management. UX agile best practices should be followed in your software projects to reap maximum benefits. And for the fast delivery of products, you can choose Lean UX.

We can deduce that both approaches have different focuses in design. But if we pay attention, we can realize that combining both terminologies and using them in a UX project helps us maximize customer value. We hope this blog helped you better understand how to use agile UX vs Lean UX.


How to Do Lean UX Research?

Lean UX research is a 7 step process. These steps include setting objectives, initial analysis, customer journey strategy, forming a design hypothesis, user research and testing, insight analysis, and redefining the hypothesis.

How to Do Agile UX Research?

For UX research with agile, you have to follow six simple steps. Explore the product and define research questions, make a research plan and get stakeholder approval, prepare research logistics, brief observers about their tasks, run a research session, prepare a findings report, and share it across the country.

Can Lean UX Work Together With Agile?

Lean UX can be used with Agile and is very useful. Lean UX is a subcategory of agile methodologies that focuses on completing project delivery faster. Therefore, it works well with agile principles.