This book has become a staple in UX design and is by the same author who wrote Lean Startup.
“Lean UX is the practice of bringing the true nature of a product to light faster, in a collaborative, cross-functional way that reduces the emphasis on thorough documentation while increasing the focus on building a shared understanding of the actual product experience being designed.”
It’s chief premise is that it challenges the outdated notion that the discovery and research process for a new product should culminate in a huge specifications document.
Why? Now that the development team are executing the plan, iteration, experimentation and discovery ceases.
Even if the development process is agile, the specification document is rigid and fixed.
This approach is flawed – what if the concepts which worked well in the lab have no real commercial appeal , or what if market conditions have changed?
“We are still investing in analysis, arguing over specifications, and
efficiently producing deliverables in a world that demands continuous
experimentation in order to achieve continuous innovation”
“The biggest lie in software is Phase II”
Lean UX is different to UX
- It helps us to remove waste from our UX design process and rely less on heavily documented handoffs
- It brings non-designers into our design process
- It shifts our mindset towards a model based on experimentation. We use rapid experimentation and rapid testing – and the designer’s role moves towards design facilitation and away from ‘hero designer’
Why Lean UX?
- In the digital age we are no longer limited by a physical manufacturing process, and we are free to work in much shorter release cycles.
Lean UX has three core foundations
- Lean Startup
- Design Thinking
- A solution-focused approach to problem solving
- Working collaboratively to iterate an endless, shifting path toward perfection
- It works towards product goals via ideation, prototyping, implementation & learning
- Tim Brown, CEO and president of legendary design firm IDEO, described
design thinking as “innovation powered by…direct observation of what
people want and need in their lives and what they like or dislike about
the way particular products are made, packaged, marketed, sold, and supported…[
It’s] a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods
to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market
- It gives designers permission and precedent to work beyond their
typical boundaries. It also encourages nondesigners to use design methods to solve the problems they face in their roles.
- Design thinking is a critical foundation that encourages teams to collaborate across roles and consider product design from a holistic perspective.
- Agile development philosophies
- Agile refocuses software development on value.
- It delivers working software to customers quickly
- It adjusts regularly to new learning along the way
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. To generate the
best solutions quickly, you must engage the entire team.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation. Every problem has endless solutions, every team member has an opinion on what is the best way. The challenge is figuring out which solution is most viable.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Collaboration builds a shared understanding of the problem space and proposed solutions. It creates consensus behind decisiions. The result is fater iterations, real involvement in product making and team investment in validated learning. It also lessens dependency on heavy documentation.
- Responding to change over following a plan. The assumption in Lean
UX is that the initial product designs will be wrong, so the goal should
be to find out what’s wrong with them as soon as possible. Once we
discover what’s working and what’s not, we adjust our proposals and
“Building a pixel-perfect spec might be a route to
raking in six-figure consulting fees, but it’s not a way to make a meaningful
difference to a real product that is crucial to real users”
- Cross functional teams. A high level of collaboration and continuous involvement from day one.
- Small, Dedicated, Colocated. Keep teams small and in the same location so everyone is focused on the same priorities, all the time
- Progress = outcomes not outputs. Features and services are outputs, business goals are meant to achieve outcomes. Lean UX measures progress in terms of explicitly defined business outcomes. When we attempt to predict which features will achieve specific outcomes, we are mostly engaging in speculation. . We don’t know in any meaningful way whether a feature is effective until it’s in the market. By managing to outcomes (and the progress made toward them), we gain insight into the efficacy of the features we are building. If a feature is not performing well, we can make an objective decision as to whether it should be kept, changed, or replaced.
- Problem-Focused Teams. A problem-focused team is one that has been assigned a business problem to solve, as opposed to a set of features to implement.
- Removing Waste. The removal of anything that doesn’t lead to an ultimate goal. In Lean UX the ultimate goal is improved outcomes – anything that doesn’t contribute to that is considered waste. Team resources are limited and the more waste they can eliminate, the faster they can move and the better they can keep their focus where it belongs.
- Small Batch Size. Keep inventory low and quality high. Focus on the MVP
- Continuous Discovery. The ongoing process of engaging the customer during the design and development process. The goal is to understand what the users are doing with your products and why they are doing it.
- GOOB: The New User-Centricity. Getting Out of the Building. It’s the realisation that meeting-room debates about user needs won’t be settled conclusively within your office. Instead, the answers lie out in the marketplace, outside of your building.
- Shared Understanding. The collective knowledge of the team that builds up over time as the team works together. It’s a rich understanding of the space, the product, and the customers.
- Anti-Pattern: Rockstars, Gurus, and Ninjas
- Externalizing Your Work. Getting work out of your head and into public view.
- Making over Analysis. There is more value in creating the first version on an idea than spending days debating its merits.
- Learning over Growth. Lean UX favors a focus on learning first and scaling second.
- Permission to Fail. Experimentation is necessary.
- Getting Out of the Deliverables Business. Refocus the design process away from the documents the team is creating to the outcomes the team is achieving. Documents don’t solve customer problems—good products do.
The team’s focus should be on learning which features have the biggest
impact on the their customers by measuring the market’s reaction to it.
Integrating Lean UX practices into your organisation