Processes and business practices are evolving each day to keep up with the rising expectations of the consumers. For businesses and enterprises, 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 in reworking certain elements. This is where Lean UX comes into the picture. Lean UX helps companies in developing and refining the product faster resulting in better user experience for the end user.
What is Lean UX?
To put it simply, Lean UX is a design management principle which enables the designers to come close to a perfect product as soon as possible. Lean UX mimics the fundamentals of Agile software development and relies on multiple feedback-driven iterations to refine the product. It enables the teams to create an efficiently designed product through frequent interactions between different departments and users. It includes multiple iterations with frequent collaborations between the teams.
Lean UX basically ties product development, design, and business in a loop of constant iterations and validation. When working in a cycle of building, measuring, and learning, designers are able to get close to a perfect user experience, sooner rather than later.
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 needs of the end user. They may 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 a product that specifically targets customer’s pain points.
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 shared informally, the whole collaboration process becomes more manageable and enables efficient teamwo
Structured feedback process
In Lean UX, the product is developed more efficiently since there is a constant supply of feedback. 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 the desired ones.
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 designers gain insights into the usefulness of the features they are creating. The Lean UX method eliminates the risk of developing an unusable product.
Reduced time to market
In traditional UX processes, there is sometimes a lot of wastage of resources.. But with Lean methodology, one can eliminate this 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.
Find issues faster
Since the Lean UX methodology involves a recurring feedback process, it enhances the ability to find issues and fix them faster. This enables the teams to deliver better and faster results at a reduced cost. By validating the hypothesis internally and testing it externally in a continual process, teams master the product and craft the perfect user experience tailored around the needs of the consumers.
Allows for flexibility and creativity
Allowing room for constant improvements, Lean UX makes the process more creative and allows the team to be flexible with the development cycle, instead of moving in a linear fashion. This allows for quick back-and-forth communication resulting in a shorter development cycle of the product or service.
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 different departments to better understand their customer. Everyone must be open-minded, and each team member must be able to present their ideas.
A strong-point of the Lean UX methodology, hypothesis-based approach enables the designers and product teams to create some assumptions, and move further to validate those assumptions. 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 UX 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-sharing and participant interaction. Therefore even if teams are working remotely, they can sync smoothly.
- 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 Brands Adopted Lean UX
The idea of Lean UX has its roots in the Lean Manufacturing methodologies perfected by the likes of Nike, Toyota, and Ford. Lean UX is the application of the same Lean principles mingled with design thinking and UX guidelines.
Doodle: A free online meeting scheduling tool, Doodle increased the number of free trial signups by 54%. How did they do it? They changed the language on their homepage to shift focus towards business use-cases. Using Lean UX principles, Doodle also tested a feature in their calendar which displays agreed-upon meeting time in individual calendars of all the attendees. 40 percent of their customers used this feature right away.
CarMax: When CarMax wanted to streamline their test-drive scheduling process, they used Lean UX to navigate the challenges and deliver on the customer expectations. They created an initial hypothesis, tested it and were surprised to know that what they thought (about the process) was incorrect. They came up with a second hypothesis, and this time around they successfully proved their hypothesis and saw tremendous increase in scheduling of test drives which increased the number of potential leads for the business.
When to apply Lean UX?
Lean UX must be applied when the teams have tight deadlines and want to eliminate wastage of time, money and resources. 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.
How to successfully apply Lean UX in your organization
Step 1 - Create a testable assumption: Also known as a hypothesis statement, this is the starting point of a Lean UX project. This is the part where you come up with a problem statement, acknowledge the assumption and transform the assumption into a hypothesis. List down the assumptions in the order of their priority and convert them into a hypothesis, the outcomes of which can be tested and measured later.
Step 2 - Decide on outcomes: Lean UX methodology puts emphasis on the outcomes as opposed to outputs that were the focus in traditional development methods. After coming up with the hypothesis the next step involves deciding on what outcomes the hypothesis will bring if found to be true. This enables business leaders to decide on what outcomes they want and eliminate wastage of resources by focussing on what matters most to the business.
Step 3 - Collaborate on design: Using tools such as Style guides, Design systems, and design studio, cross-functional teams collaborate to come up with the best possible solution to the problem statement defined above.
Step 4 - Create an MVP: After successfully deciding on the outcomes and having a design ready, it is finally time to create an MVP for prototyping. According to your needs and budget, this can be a feature, function or an entirely new product. There are various kinds of MVP which you can build, according to your needs. An MVP is the fundamental step in validating the hypothesis you had created earlier.
Step 5 - Feedback and research: Upon successfully creating the MVP, you have to get feedback from the users, audience, potential users etc. You will be able to validate the hypothesis with this feedback you will be getting about your MVP. More feedback directly translates to better validation of the hypothesis and assumptions.
Step 6: Repeat steps 1-5 as many times as possible until you have successfully created the perfect version of the feature/product you’re trying to create.
Benefiting from customer insights and a participative development process, Lean UX is truly the approach which gives development teams across the world, a chance to innovate and deliver on customer expectations like never before. With teams working in conjunction with one another, the UX design process takes a whole new approach where collaboration and feedback are the key to unlocking great potential for any organisation out there.
Lean UX focuses on identifying specific problems of the users and finding design-led solutions for these problems. Outcomes are valued and given utmost importance which enables teams to deliver not just numbers, but business impact. The idea of Lean UX is not something entirely new, but the relevance and reliability of Lean UX in the development community is only getting stronger with time.