18. 03. 2020

LeanUX – a possibility to better unite human-centred design and agile project management

The overall aim of HCD is to involve users at the very beginning to optimally adapt the product to their needs and requirements. Contrary project management requires agile development to shorten the product’s time to market launch. Therefore, the principles of HCD contain a conflict potential against the principles of agile project management. There is frictional loss when HCD expects a high amount of usability whereas agile project management follows a swift implementation of functionalities. There are a number of compromise approaches to address these conflicts. Especially integrative approaches like LeanUX are promising to unite the contrasts of HCD and agile project management (Minge, 2018).

If you work in an agile project team with HCD, there are big overlaps with LeanUX. Both approaches are iterative and see people at the heart of the design process. But in Agile & HCD there is a very strong focus on the analysis. Here you gather data about the context of use via shadowing, interviews, etc. That is not the case in LeanUX, where you do not have much time for the analysis phase, skip it and instead try to understand and improve the prototype in the design phase. In LeanUX this is done by working with hypothesis. It is recommended to develop the hypothesis within task forces or workshops. Here, ideas for features and design solutions are gathered, which could help the user. Everyone should be aware that hypotheses are not without fail and must be tested.


LeanUX is the concept of choice, when working in quick development cycles. In this case, you already begin with testing in an early stage to adjust the hypotheses as fast as possible.

Both concepts differ as follows:

  • Agile & HCD works with an extensive analysis for the context of use and the derivation of requirements.
  • LeanUX is less engaged in the analysis but works with hypotheses. For example, the hypotheses are postulated by developers, which want to predict user requirements.

Overall, LeanUX unites the aspects of agile project management and HCD. It offers both a reduction of time by dropping the analysis phase and the derivation of user requirements and keeps the user in focus of the design. Especially the evaluation of the design gains an important role in LeanUX, since the hypotheses are not a product of primary users, but rather come from stakeholders like the development team.

Minge, M. (2018). UX-Design in der Agileen Entwicklung: Alles Lean-oder was?. Mensch und Computer 2018-Workshopband.

by Dennis Fischer
User Research


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