Lean UX Canvas


In my last position as a Product Manager for a human-centered product and design agency we had a diversity of customers from Cybersecurity firms to Travel companies that came to us to help them innovate and create new products.

Part of our process was to have intensive interviews with the stakeholders to determine how they viewed their business. With this data, we would understand the product deeper and be able to help the customer develop a successful product for themselves and their customer.

Case Study

My first client at this agency was a company with multiple co-founders, all of whom were stakeholders for this product. Each had a vision for the company and the product. How different their visions were between them was not necessarily clear to them or to us. I wanted to design an interview that would uncover what discrepancies there were, if any. This would not only be helpful to us, but even more so to the co-founders who needed to understand where their vision overlapped, and where it diverged.

As I considered how to design this experiment, I remembered some tools that often helped me understand my own business models for my previous start-ups. These tools, the Business Model Canvas or a Lean Canvas, helped me quickly get to the root of my business and fill-in the gaps that I was missing. Yes, even when you are the only co-founder, you can have multiple visions for a product that conflict with each other. These canvases helped a great deal in focusing my start-ups.

For this particular client, I decided to print out a wall-sized Business Model Canvas, and each stakeholder individually would help me fill it out with post-it notes. Then, at the end of the day, we would take all of the canvases and combine them into one with all of the stakeholders present. In this exercise, the similarities and differences would appear, and we would learn what truly was valuable to the client.

A New Canvas

However, as I reviewed the Business Model Canvas, I realized somethings were missing. At the current agency I worked at, Human-centered product design was the highest priority. Human-centered product design is a methodology that is used to build what people will not only use, but also find that it meets a need they maybe didn’t even know they had, and love it. However, the Business Model Canvas did not have anything that was user-focused. I knew it needed to be modified to exhibit the human-centered product design methodology.

The result was the Lean UX Canvas. It is a canvas I created that helps not only understand the business side of the product, but also the user side of the product.

The directions on using it are fairly simple.

  1. Fill-out the Business quadrants first with the Stakeholders of the product. If necessary, have each Stakeholder fill-out the canvas individually in order to discover discrepancies between Stakeholders.
  2. Fill-out the User quadrants via user interviews, surveys, usability studies, etc. The User quadrants will contain the boiled-down essence of the user personas in how they interact with the product. NOTE: As you discover more about your users, you will update the canvas. So an initial run-through could be hypothesis-driven, while future pass-throughs should be based on actual User Research.
  3. Fill-out the Product quadrants, which should answer the assumptions the Business quadrants posed, and confirm the needs the User quadrants exposed.

Overall, the Lean UX Canvas is a work in progress. It is a living document that should be updated and re-evaluated when new information becomes known. I find it very useful to keep on the wall, full-size so that I can always simply walk over to it, and ponder over it from time to time.

The Canvas:

The canvas is broken into three different sections with some cross-over.


  • Problems
  • Problems we are not solving
  • Risks
  • Competition
  • Key Partners
  • Unfair Advantage
  • Success Criteria
  • Key Metrics
  • Key Activities/Resources


  • User Attributes
  • User Actions
  • Feelings
  • Customer Segments
  • Channels
  • Revenue Streams


  • Key Features/Solutions
  • Key Metrics
  • Value Propositions
  • Customer Relationships

When the Lean UX Canvas is fully filled-out, it gives you a fuller picture of what you are building, why you are building it, and who you are building it for. If you have trouble filling-in areas, it helps you identify potentially weak areas for your product.


I found this new canvas very useful for each client I had where I needed to determine what and why we are building something. It was also very useful for the team to be able to look at a very large encapsulation of the product. Not to mention, the clients loved looking at it, as it exposed the thought processes they had.

I hope you enjoy taking a look at it.

Please leave comments on your thoughts and changes you’d make. It is a BETA, a work in progress.

You can download the PDF here: http://bit.ly/Leanuxcanvas

NOTE: This article was originally posted on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mstephan

About the Author

Mark Stephan is an entrepreneur and product enthusiast.

Starting off as an Archeologist, Mark graduated university with 5 majors and 3 minors, and worked on his masters in History and Archeology. However, taking an abrupt turn, in 1999 he entered into the tech world by working at Trilogy Software in Austin, Texas. After the DotCom collapse in 2001, Mark moved to Istanbul, Turkey where he taught entrepreneurism to persecuted communities and refugees. He also attended Istanbul University, learned Turkish, and on graduation started his own software company in Istanbul and ran it there for 5 years. In 2008, Mark moved back to Austin, Tx moved his company and ran a consulting company helping start-ups start up. In 2012, Mark closed his consulting company and focused full-time on his new product start-up, Community Raiser, launching a crowdfunding platform for non-profits. In 2015, Mark took a short break from his start-up to work at a human-centered digital product design agency as product manager helping clients build the products of their dreams.

Today, Mark is still very involved in giving back to the community and serving refugees and persecuted communities around the world. He is also working on a new product at his start-up Community Raiser, and is about ready to launch a mobile app to build generosity of thought. Afterwards, Mark is intending to work for a yet to be determined product company building the next great thing.

Want to learn more about Mark Stephan?