Lean UX Principles to Keep Your Users Happy
Lean UX is based on lean development, a school of thought that originates from the startup world.
The goal of lean development is to cut any element in the product development cycle that is not strictly necessary.
This minimalistic approach removes unneeded steps, stripping bloated processes to their core, essential parts. Companies use the popular practice to push a product to market quickly, using limited resources.
What is Lean UX?
Lean UX is a subcategory of the lean method. It employs a set of principles that guide design teams to create better UX solutions for their users.
A design team that uses lean UX will start with a problem. Using this problem they will brainstorm solutions and test thoroughly.
The key here is agility — rapid cycles that provide feedback on what is working and what isn’t.
A differentiating point of lean UX is the heightened focused on the end-user experience. Rather than becoming sidetracked by deliverables common in traditional UX design process, lean designers sacrifice documentation for collaboration.
Who Should Use Lean UX Principles?
This approach was created for small teams rubbing shoulders in a shared space. That being said, there is no reason enterprise companies cannot also reap the benefits of lean UX.
Even when designers are spread out geographically, lean processes can still be applied to make the workflow more flexible and dynamic.
It’s important to note, lean UX is not an end-all book of rules. When implementing these principles, some is always better than none.
A Short List of Lean UX Principles:
Determine the Value of Product Initiatives Early On
The first step is to examine the business impact of any decision before beginning the design process. This goes for any element of the design process, from creating a product to adding a new feature.
Will people buy this product? Will adding this feature enrich the user experience? Does this action meet business goals? Companies should conduct user research to answer these questions before undertaking a project.
Early customer validation is the cornerstone of lean design. It is much more effective to find out there is little financial gain in a feature you have not yet designed than spend weeks or months on fruitless labor.
Usability testing is the industry standard, but other research methods should be used as well. If your company collects user feedback, this is a good source of insight.
Additionally, communicating with sales and customer service reps can provide you with a wealth of valuable information about where customers struggle and what they want to buy.
Design Should not be a Solo Activity
Do not design on an island.
It does not matter how large or small your design department is — lean UX design is a collaborative process.
Involve members from other teams—business analysts to gather and write requirements, developers to shed light on the technical realities, researchers and business owners.
The more input there is from different angles of the design process, the less likely that there will be unwanted surprises down the road.
Measured Success is the Only Success
If you are not defining key performance indicators (KPIs) into every design release — you are doing it wrong.
Much like the initial user research, lean UX relies heavily on analytics to ensure the product remains on target. Setting and measuring business-oriented goals is only way to effectively track the design progress.
Choosing strategic KPIs offers businesses with a large range of choices.
Each department, and even each designer, will care about different elements of their product’s user experience. This is fine and these can change over time as company goals shift.
The important part is to choose KPIs that — looking back at principle #1 — reflect your business goals.
Spend Less Time on Design Artifacts
Creating heavy wireframes is staple of traditional UX design, however, this process is time consuming and ultimately the wireframes are not touched by your end-user.
There are a couple of ways to lighten up this process:
Present unfinished wireframes. That way, you are able to receive valuable feedback on your work without wasting too much time on unnecessary preparation.
Simplify the process by using sketches. If you have involved others in the design process from the start, it will be much easier for them to follow and contribute without need for wireframes.