In today’s fast and competitive world, companies are continuously looking for more efficient ways to work. For businesses today, designing the product for the best user experience is crucial. Agile methodologies in product designing are helping companies build a seamless user experience. However, businesses still have to spend considerable time fine-tuning the product or sometimes reworking certain elements. Lean UX helps companies minimize this hassle of refinement and rework. Lean UX enables developers to create a product that is actually useful for the end customer and has a great user experience.
What is Lean UX?
The synonym of lean is learning. Lean UX is a design management system. It enables developers to create an efficiently designed product through frequent interactions between different departments and users. It includes multiple iterations with frequent collaborations between the team. Toyota inspired the concept in the 1980s. The basic idea behind Lean UX is the build-measure-learn loop. The ultimate objective of Lean UX is to make quick decisions based on regular feedback and create a product that best solves the end user’s problem.
The foundations of Lean UX
Design thinking includes understanding the end-user requirements, brainstorming, and exploring the ways to solve their problems. After ideation, the methods are implemented and rapidly tested. The end product is a balance between a technically viable product that is useful for the customer. Design thinking enables designers to think out of the box. It also encourages non-designers to use design methodologies to solve critical problems.
The core values of agile are similar to that of Lean UX. Agile methodologies are development-focused. In Agile development methodologies, ideas and solutions are designed collaboratively and tested frequently. There is a quick response to the changes, and the product gets better with every further iteration.
The lean startup methodology uses a create-measure-learn feedback loop for building a minimum viable product known as MVP. Eric Ries created this concept. The idea behind the lean startup is to develop a basic version of the actual product and test it in the market. On taking feedback, if the outcome is not desirable, the components are discarded. If the results are desirable, the product is improved in successive iterations.
Difference between Lean UX and Agile UX
Agile UX was created to bring the iterative approach to product design and feature development. It bought constant collaboration and customer feedback into the design process. So even though Lean UX and Agile UX are sometimes thought to be the same, they are different. Agile UX helps teams build the product the right way, whereas Lean UX helps the teams create the right product that best suits the end customer’s needs. They might have identical results; however, they have very different approaches. In Agile UX, sometimes the need for refinement and even reworking the product arises. Lean UX offers a better approach as it focuses on the customer’s needs and helps teams build exactly what solves the problem.
Benefits of using Lean UX
Lean UX enables teams to interact frequently and work together to create the product. Constant collaboration helps bring in new ideas from the diverse skill sets of the entire team. Also, since the information is informally shared, the whole collaboration process becomes more manageable and enables efficient teamwork.
- Structured feedback process
In Lean UX, the product is developed more efficiently, and user feedback is rapidly obtained. The end product, created after repeated iterations, is based on the input by the target users and hence is more aligned to their actual requirements. Due to constant feedback, teams can spend less time on non-usable features and more time on desired ones.
- Better outcomes
Lean UX is focused on the outcome of the end product, and hence more importance is given to how the product would impact the customer. Understanding and managing the possible results helps the developers gain insights into the usefulness of the features they are creating. The Lean UX method eliminates the risk of developing an unusable product and spending a lot of time and effort on it.
- Reduced time for the product to reach the market
The traditional UX processes generate a lot of waste and take time. But with Lean methodology, one can eliminate waste and remove unnecessary processes. Moreover, it focuses on constant improvement and user feedback. Hence the time duration to create the product and bring it to the market is considerably reduced.
Getting started with Lean UX in your company
- A new approach to design deliverables
For building products using Lean UX methodologies, the product team has to change how they think about the product development process and start creating products that positively impact the users’ lives. Greater emphasis has to be made on the deliverables and the user experience.
- Focus on collaboration
Collaboration is the foundation of Lean UX. The product team must constantly collaborate with the teams from different departments to better understand their customer. The whole team must include developers, designers, researchers, product managers, and even the frontline employees who are constantly in touch with the customers. Everyone must be open-minded, and each team member must be able to present their ideas.
- Thinking in terms of assumptions and hypotheses and validating the hypothesis
The product teams must not assume that they have complete knowledge of the product they are building. Instead, they must consider the hypothesis and should validate it before executing anything. The MVP product would be the basic concept and help in validating the hypothesis.
- Lean UX double diamond process
The double diamond approach involves designers creating the user interface for UI mockup before making the actual product. Sometimes the double diamond process does not capture the reality of the design; however, it does give an idea of what the outcome would look like. The double diamond US process is very detailed and can help teams come up with a solid design. It helps teams understand the end product and make improvements beforehand. It reduces the number of iterations and helps make the product quicker.
Tools for Lean UX
- Web conferencing tools: Web conferencing tools such as GoToMeeting, WebEx, zoom, and Google meet are helpful. All of them have the features of recording screen share and participant interaction. Therefore even if teams are working remotely, they can smoothly sync.
- Survey tools: Survey tools like SurveyMonkey effectively collect opinions regarding different features and generate graphs to identify ideas and come up with the best, most voted features.
- Virtual whiteboarding tool: It is a real-time board that enables teams to brainstorm together even if they work remotely.
- Interactive prototyping tools: When teams want to test the interactions and workflows before building the product, they can use a prototyping tool like InVision.
How have brands adopted Lean UX
Earlier, the Paypal team took months to make minor changes to their website. Now, Paypal has modernized its product development process. It has integrated design, front-end engineering, and product management altogether. Now they first create prototypes, and if they succeed, they work on the actual product. Industry regulations have always posed a challenge for Lean UX. In Lean UX, teams are likely to work quickly, experiment, fail, and learn from failure. However, in regulated industries, failure is not taken casually. Similar happened with Paypal when they began their Lean UX journey. Since Paypal works with money, they faced several challenges.
The roots of the Lean UX approach were derived from the Toyota Production System called TPS. The Toyota Lean manufacturing approach helped it grow substantially and become one of the largest automakers globally. The Lean method of Toyota revolutionized the industrial economy of Japan after World War 2. It has transformed the way companies develop products. It helped companies across the globe to maximize profits and minimize costs.
When to apply Lean UX?
Lean UX must be applied when the teams have tight deadlines and want to eliminate waste. Lean UX helps reduce the go-to-market time by creating a user-centric product. It helps improve team collaboration and enables faster product building. Lean UX combines product development and business through frequent measurements and improvements.
Lean UX has transformed the way we develop products today. Every company wants to create the best user experience for its customers. It is a design management system that helps companies create efficiently designed products through frequent interactions among different departments. The foundations of Lean UX include design thinking, agile development, and lean startup. Lean UX must be applied when the teams have tight deadlines and want to eliminate waste. It reduces go-to-market time and improves team collaboration. To learn more about how Lean UX can help you, reach out to us at [email protected]