I am really interested in expert opinions about my approach on UX/UI design and Agile software development. I hope someone with expertise on this field could help me with my doubts.

From my perspective, in order to create a backlog (collection of user stories) for an MVP (Lean development), you first need to build up a basic "Information Arquitecture" project, where you can design a "Task Workflow", "Site Map", "wireframes" and "Interaction Design", so that you can study and design the behaviour of a user, what he/she has to do to achieve certain tasks, web page flows, how is the real and expected flow from beginning to end, or how to make the "user experience" better, such as with less clicks, being more understandable, etc.

After you have gathered all this information needed for your MVP, you can start creating "epics" and its related "user stories", so that you can accomplish "user tasks" (business value tasks). Obviously, this "UX/UI specification" will change among the project, but the basic picture will remain.

What do you think about this software development approach? We could name it "predesign UX/UI MVP", so after that, you can start your "Lean Agile software development".

With this approach, you have double a bird's eye view. Light UI/UX predesign (flow tasks, sketching interaction, etc), with no "High Fidelity prototyping", and user stories backlog, so developers have better knowledge and design can be up front.

Another doubt is where to locate "Art Design" and "High Fidelity UI prototyping" :-)


2 Answers 2


This is a good question, and there's a great set of answers and comments on the UX SE: At what point in the development process should UX come into play in an Agile work environment?, and here in PM SE there's Where should design be incorporated in an agile process? that also has good information.

In my experience leading development teams and managing projects, it's important that if your dev team does not include UX that the UX team also be running Agile in parallel and there's good cross-talk to ensure that the stories are communicated as appropriate.

What I try to do, though, is ensure that UX is part of the overall dev team/project team and we're all operating in the same Agile environment. In that case, your description of a process seems generally fine to me, with a few notes:

  • Don't let the UX group slip into waterfall when they're supposed to be doing Agile; don't let them produce enormous amounts of wireframes and and other documentation up front but instead find the balance that allows them to produce something meaningful but keep the process moving.
  • Remember that UX is going to be iterative as well; this initial work should not be the last time they're involved.

I personally don't make a distinction between "UX work done before technical dev happens" and "Agile software development."

  • first at all, thank you very much for your answer.I really understand the concept of being lean, or building a MVP product through agile cycles (user stories). But i still dont get the point of working on UX/UI/Art-Design with no up-front (no waterfall). From my point of view, if you have to do Lean UX only on each cycle, you are creating a "frankenstein". A user story maybe doesn't incorporate a whole task flow process, so how are you going to art design with photoshop, or study the interation arquitecture for a whole task flow process then? In Lean .. Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 18:21
  • .. you pivot when you build up a MVP version, not on the 10th cycle for instance. So thats the core of what i dont understand at all. It does make sense that after your MVP, you gather real user feedback, so maybe you need to pivot to something different. On this situation, it will create changes not only to the back-end code, but on the front-end code and UX/UI design also. At this situation i understand that you will have to create again an up-front UX/UI design to create the modifications you need to pivot.Because when we create a backlog,we all agree that we are creating an up-front,right? Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 18:30
  • @user1106811 If you're going to go Lean, go Lean together (UX & tech dev). Similarly, if you go Agile, go together. It'll be difficult to have one group Lean and one Agile, and I think maddening to go Agile at first and then Lean (or vice versa). You can do Lean UX (think-make-check) just like you can do Lean tech dev (build-measure-learn), and with the right people and attention to method the blending of the two can work. You might also be interested in this UX SE question
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 20:40
  • i think i am having some kind of conceptual misunderstanding with Agile, Lean and LeanUX :-). What i understand: infoq.com/news/2008/09/Not-Agile-Vs-Lean.From my perspective, its almost the same. Create a MVP through Agile (its the Lean objective), so after that, if you need to pivot, you do it. If not, you continue with the next mayor business feature. My doubt was about UX (IA) and HiFi prototyping.I really look at LeanUX (or AgileUX) as something from where you can't plan correctly the user experience as a whole, taking into consideration the whole user task flow. Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 9:13
  • @user1106811 I'm not saying you plan the whole user experience up front -- the opposite, in fact: that it's iterative as well. It's "thinking of the experience in prioritized chunks" see "Lean UX: Getting Out Of The Deliverables Business" and in a forward-moving fashion. You can start it, bring tech dev in, then continue forward together using the same methodological framework.
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 12:34

What do you think about this software development approach? we could name it "predesign UX/UI MVP", so after that, you can start your "Lean Agile software development".

I'm usually not that pessimistic, but I don't think it would work. The Lean Startup approach and Agile Software Development Methods may have common roots, but their ways are different. If you publish an MVP then you have to follow the process of the Lean Startup process, which depends on the feedback given by the customer on the MVP and the measured data. How would you like to deal with this feedback and data? You cannot simply create a backlog, because it will contain several items; however, in Lean Startup there are only two choices after an MVP: Continue with the next feature, or pivot. Having a backlog is a waste of time and resources in this case.

When a project highly depends on the user interface you can have a prototype, which is just fine. The customer can give feedback, but every feedback will be a new user story, and they have to be prioritized, or forget about Agile and do the development as it is described in Lean Startup.

  • ,but as far as i understand Lean method, its just about creating an MVP with minimum business features,but functional.To create this MVP,the best way is using Agile (user stories). If you have to pivot, you just modify the app deleting and/or adding new user stories, just like in the beginning.I dont get the point about your comment that "having a backlog is a waste of time".Wasn't it supposed that Lean and Agile are totally related? Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 7:21
  • 1
    Actually, Lean != Lean startup, and Agile != Lean. Lean is about people and continues improvement. Lean startup introduced the MVP and suggests that you should continuously improve your product. There is the only connection besides the name. Lean and Agile are not related. You may find some Lean principles in Agile, but they have a completely different approach.
    – Zsolt
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 16:31
  • with "related" i meant that are two different concepts related nowdays for startup development. Agile is the recommended mechanism used by Lean Startup to create MVPs in a continuos iteration context (develop-test-improve). To create a MVP, you need a minimum of user stories in your backlog. Anyway, if a person doesn't want to follow Lean Startup method, and just go Agile, do you advice to have a complete IA and HiFi prototype before starting creating the backlog? Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 19:40

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