I’ve been following leading user experience professionals & digital strategists for years now. Jared Spool, Tomer Sharon, Aarron Walter, & Paul Boag are among the top on my “hit list” to get for an interview here on UX Crunch. But, I finally managed to get the guy behind Lean UX – Jeff Gothelf – to set aside some time from is super-busy schedule to talk about some of the hottest user experience topics today.

Jeff Gothelf is a leading advocate of Lean UX, author of the book, titled, ‘Lean UX’, and principal at Neo, spreading the gospel of great team collaboration, product innovation and evidence-based decision making.

jeff gothelf lean ux

In this interview, Jeff and I discussed the UX trends for 2015, the benefit of Lean UX on product development, opportunities for UX designers in Fintech innovation, and more. With that, take a look at the interview and enjoy!

1. First of all, I have to say that I am a big fan – for years. And, really, I want to know how did you become so cool and popular?

Ha! I tried for years to be cool and popular as a touring musician but, alas, it was not to be. These days I spend a lot of time traveling around, speaking and teaching at companies and conferences.

2. What UX trends do you foresee for 2015?

Two big ones jump out at me. Service design is one. The integration of web, physical, services (online and offline), devices and appliances (i.e., internet of things) is where we’re headed. The more we’re prepared for a broader customer experience — not one made up strictly of pixels — the more successful our customers will be. The other is content everywhere. With the infinite form factors being produced and re-invented (think: watch, washing machines, purses, etc) the interfaces and content we design and create has to work seamlessly. How does that change the way we think about our work?

3. What is Lean UX and how does it benefit innovation tech product development today, in 2015?

Lean UX is a cross-functional collaboration between product, design and engineering designed to increase the team’s shared understanding of the customer, their needs and how our ideas do (or do not) meet those needs.

4. What is the best way to integrate Lean UX to Agile methodology?

Lean UX fits nicely into a Scrum cadence. Scrum is time boxed, iterative and reflective. These are great components for building a continuous learning process like Lean UX. We can dedicate and prioritize time for learning, delivery and reflection. The most important thing to remember is to actually integrate our learnings into the planning for the next cycle. Scrum’s short cycles make the risks we take in each cycle small. This is important because, if we get our assumptions wrong, we’ve only spent one cycle (often a week or two) on them and can re-adjust quickly.

5. How do you get upper level management to support all departments (product management, UX, design, engineering) to cohesively work together in the product development?

We must speak to upper management in language that matters to them. If you’re speaking to the CFO, she cares about costs, profits, business models, revenue, utilization, etc. How does a great cross-functional collaboration positively impact those elements? Translate the benefits into language management cares about, and not surprisingly, they’ll pay attention.

6. It’s obvious that Fintech is super-hot right now, the rise of mobile and the noise Apple Pay has made. And just recently, we have seen Adaptive Path join the ranks of Capital One. Do you see an opportunity for UX designers to focus on this niche industry? What makes this industry pivotal for UX Designers more than any other industry?

There is so much opportunity to improve the experience of fintech products. Just the other day I was speaking to a UX designer at a bank. He was the ONLY designer assigned to ATM UI! One designer! I thought that was insane. The more folks we have working across the entire service level of fintech products – not just the ATM’s, but the web sites, mobile apps, call centers, branches, etc. – the more customer-centric the experience will be and ultimately the more successful.

7. What are some failures that you have experienced as a UX professional?

There have been many but reflecting back on my career, I would go back and have spoken up more confidently on design choices I didn’t agree with. It’s easy, as a young designer, to get swept up in the management decrees and politics of a big organization (like a bank). In hindsight, I would work harder to reframe the conversation in a way that would, at least, allow me to have a productive discussion on the design decisions being handed to us to implement.

8. If you could provide one UX tip in one sentence to a novice UX designer, what would it be?

Stay humble and know your audience. These are the most important things.


Would you like us to interview a leading UX professional that we haven’t interviewed already? Feel free to get in touch with us via Twitter or Facebook.