A Collaborative Lean UX Research Tool When combined with serial waterfall development methodologies, these design deliverables end up consuming an enormous amount of time and creating a tremendous amount of waste. Waste is defined as anything that is ultimately not used in the development of the working product. Engaging in long drawn-out design cycles risks paralysis by internal indecision as well as missed windows of market opportunity. Image by Claire Murray. As organizations struggle to stay nimble in the face of an ever-changing marketplace that is disrupted constantly by incumbents as well as start-ups, getting to market fast becomes top priority. In other words, by the time the company decides internally how the product should be designed, the needs of the marketplace have changed.
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A Collaborative Lean UX Research Tool When combined with serial waterfall development methodologies, these design deliverables end up consuming an enormous amount of time and creating a tremendous amount of waste.
Waste is defined as anything that is ultimately not used in the development of the working product. Engaging in long drawn-out design cycles risks paralysis by internal indecision as well as missed windows of market opportunity.
Image by Claire Murray. As organizations struggle to stay nimble in the face of an ever-changing marketplace that is disrupted constantly by incumbents as well as start-ups, getting to market fast becomes top priority. In other words, by the time the company decides internally how the product should be designed, the needs of the marketplace have changed.
Enter Lean UX. Lean UX Inspired by Lean and Agile development theories, Lean UX is the practice of bringing the true nature of our work to light faster, with less emphasis on deliverables and greater focus on the actual experience being designed. Traditional documents are discarded or, at the very least, stripped down to their bare components, providing the minimum amount of information necessary to get started on implementation.
Long detailed design cycles are eschewed in favor of very short, iterative, low-fidelity cycles, with feedback coming from all members of the implementation team early and often. Collaboration with the entire team becomes critical to the success of the product. Looks familiar? Lightweight concepting kicks off the process. This can be done on a whiteboard, a napkin or a quick wireframe.
The goal is to get the core components of the idea or workflow visualized quickly and in front of your team. The team begins to provide their insights on the direction of the design as well as its feasibility. The initial investment in sketching is so minimal that there is no significant cost to completely rethinking the direction.
Once a direction is agreed upon internally, a rough prototype helps to validate the idea with customers. That learning helps to refine the idea, and the cycle repeats.
Lean UX encourages you, the designer, to show your work early and often to the team, collect their insights and build that into the next iteration of the design. In fact, the designer is still driving the design by aggregating all of that feedback, assessing what works best for the business and the user, and iterating the design forward.
The trick is to stay lean: keep the deliverables light and editable. Eliminate waste by not spending hours getting the pixels exactly right and the annotations perfect.
Got an idea for a flow? Throw it up on the whiteboard, and grab the product owner or project leader to tell them about it. Ready to design? Rough out the first page of the flow in your sketchpad. How does it feel? Is the flow already evident? Post it in a visible place at the office and invite passers-by to comment on it. It helps to effectively match expectations and reality for your clients. The team members who suggested these ideas will begin to feel a sense of ownership in the design and notice it in others.
It has now become something they had a hand in creating. This sense of ownership will equip the designer with new allies to defend the work when it comes under criticism from external forces. The team ultimately becomes more invested in the success of the experience. Sketching, presenting, critiquing, researching, testing, prototyping, even wireframing — these all get a solid workout in each cycle of the process.
Their concern is that by collecting feedback from non-designers, they will be less valuable to the team and be relegated to the role of menial pixel-pusher. Holding on to the concept and avoiding the unnecessary is vital in Lean UX. The designer continues to drive the design, but the guardrails i. Lean UX also speeds up development time. This foundational coding phase helps to expose feasibility challenges in the proposed solution. All of this affects where the designer focuses their energy, thus minimizing waste.
As with the initial sketches, focusing the prototype on critical components of the experience is essential. Pick the core user flow or two , and prototype only those screens. Once created, it will be immediately testable by any and all users.
Successful lean prototypes have been created with code, with design software such as Adobe Fireworks and even with PowerPoint. At times, your client internal or external will demand a level of fidelity that helps them better visualize the experience. Work with the tool that is most comfortable and fastest for you and that delivers just enough fidelity for the client.
Diagram of the iterative design and critique process. Warfel, Todd Zaki. New York: Rosenfeld Media. Most importantly, get the prototype in front of customers. Bring them in regularly to test the workflows, ideally once a week. Jakob Nielsen found out that after five participants, the odds of finding new roadblocks in the experience were low. If you test regularly, you can cut the number of participants per week to three. This will also cut costs.
Collect feedback. Tweak the prototype. Once validated, demo your updated prototype to the team. Explain the flows, the user motivations and why you designed it the way you did. The prototype has now become your documentation. The strength of Lean UX here is that, with the design validated, the designer is now freed to move on to the next core component of the experience, instead of spending six weeks creating a design-requirements document and pixel-perfect specs.
They are the ones with whom the design will speak for itself, and in the environment where it will ultimately have to succeed. You now have another to add to the hall tree: keeper of the vision. In this new role, your responsibility is to keep an eye on the big picture. Lean UX forces you to think of the experience in prioritized chunks. Ultimately, those chunks all have to roll up into one cohesive product. That cohesive product is your vision. Even as the design shifts and morphs through iterations and customer feedback, you are always designing towards that greater goal.
Regardless of how the design shifts, these goals drive your work. In the past, those hard-won, comprehensive, approved deliverables authorized you to design in a specific direction. With Lean UX, the iterative cycle and the frequent varying opinions will inevitably create conflicts with your vision.
This is where you push back. Use the stated vision to help sort out conflicting feedback and focus your efforts on the end goal. It becomes a reference tool to understand the decisions of the past, which inform the decisions of the present. The final product is the documentation. It is the experience. Thick deliverables created simply for future reference regarding the user experience become obsolete almost as soon as they are completed.
When a question arises about how something should behave in the UX, going through that workflow in the product to see what happens is easy enough. The old kind of documentation is waste and draws effort away from solving current design problems.
Websites and applications that are focused on heavy content delivery as opposed to task- or function-based websites will need some up-front planning and documentation. Getting right down to the level of the page and article may not be necessary, but getting enough of an idea of the type of content that will be delivered and a sense of its hierarchy is essential to getting to that first sketch and prototype.
Once the team grasps the scope and type of content needed for the experience, work can begin as the experience is refined. You solve them with elegant, efficient and sophisticated software. Working in these new attributes should ultimately be an easy sell internally because you are advocating for more collaboration, more conversation and earlier delivery to customers. Yes, the culture will have to shift — shipping what amounts to the minimum desirable product can be a tough pill to swallow for those used to big-bang releases.
However, the ability to make quicker decisions along the way, informed by regular customer feedback, should ultimately trump these concerns. Interactive agencies have it a bit tougher because they are in the deliverables business. They get paid for their documentation and spend a lot of time creating it. A specialist creates each document, and they charge for that time. Reducing those efforts means reducing revenue. Lean UX proposes that the shortfall in up-front revenue generated by deliverables can easily be made up, and then some, by delivering higher-quality work, faster, to the client.
The process has to be modified slightly, though: Lean UX process for an interactive agency. Set up twice- or thrice-weekly minute reviews with them.
By involving the client in the process, by iterating the design quickly and by testing the iterations with real customers, you will reach an optimal solution in less time than before. In agency-land, less time typically means less revenue, which could potentially be the death knell for Lean UX.
But while the output took less billable time to create, it will likely be more effective and will bring the customer back to your shop more frequently than in the past. This is empowering, and clients like that feeling. This is not an easy change because agency culture has been the same for many decades.
Lean UX – Getting Out Of The Deliverables Business
This is a rare book that is information dense, yet which does not allow that information density to compromise readability. This may sound like a petty detail, but I suspect that it would be hard for someone not as versed in the concepts as the authors to sell the concept based on those The concrete, concise way the authors describe how to implement Lean UX in various environments compensates for this, but since the book started out with an overview of principles, I was initially concerned about how the rest of the book would go. Ignoring my concern about the laundry list of principles, the book will be useful to managers, UX designers and developers and anyone wondering how UX can work in an agile environment.
Start free Blinkist trial Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now Synopsis Lean UX is a guide to applying lean principles to interactive design workspaces. Key idea 1 of 7 The three foundational principles of Lean UX are design thinking, agile software development and lean startup. Do you ever see the designers that work for your company? If your business is like most, it likely keeps the design team separate from everyone else, which means that they work in their own little bubble. But what do these terms all mean? First, design thinking is the idea that every aspect of a business can be approached with design in mind. For instance, when a company encounters an issue, it can solve it like a designer would.
Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience
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