‘Lean UX’ Can Propel You Ahead Of Your Competitors In Product Design

 

Pic of book: Lean UX4 Reasons To Buy This Book:

    1. Lean UX is the latest advancement in the evolution of product design
    2. The method allows your product design team to compete with companies who have shorter cycle times
    3. Book is a quick read at only 124 pages, but filled with actionable advice; no filler text
    4. Recommended for interaction designers, product managers, developers, and managers concerned about great user-experiences

2 Reasons This Book May Not Be Right For You:

    1. You’re a manager/employee who loves planning for planning’s sake; you prefer to “get it all figured out first” in product design
    2. You’re a manager/employee who prefers to develop products in isolation—collaboration is not your thing

What Is UX?

Before going further, I want to provide the best definition of UX that I was able to find. According to Dirk Knemeyer at the Interaction Design Foundation:

“User Experience”, often abbreviated “UX”, is the quality of experience a person has when interacting with a specific design. Originally used in reference to human-computer interactions – and still largely associated with those disciplines – the term is now used to refer to any specific human-design interaction, ranging from a digital device, to a sales process, to an entire conference. Perhaps due to its organic development and lack of formalization, “User Experience” [UX] may be defined by, and the responsibility of, very different departments from organization to organization: in some organizations, it is owned by marketing; in others, it falls under information technology (IT).

From my experience, UX is typically associated with the design of software or websites. This book mainly discusses UX within the context of web experiences.

Background

Lean UX is one of the latest books within The Lean Series, a series published by O’Reilly Media and curated by Eric Ries (author of The Lean Startup). The Lean Series is a collection of books written by experts who provide practical advice for the implementation of Lean Startup principles. You can see the full roster of books within The Lean Series by clicking here. The authors of Lean UX, Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, are leaders within the UX design space. This book is essentially about a process change for user-experience designers. It is the combination of Lean Startup and user experience-based design. This approach is a collaborative and action-oriented (vs planning- and documentation-oriented) UX design.

What You’ll Gain As An Entrepreneur

I’ll cover these three aspects of this book: the explanation on why you should use Lean UX, the main sections of the book, and the tools provided.

Why You Should Use Lean UX

Competitors are now releasing software and other products in much shorter release cycles and creating a higher expectation in customers’ minds as to how quickly software and other digital products should be available. If you want to compete against these product leaders, you’ll need to pick up the pace. This suggests that the old way of heavily documenting specs and pre-planning product design will no longer suffice. Not if you want to keep pace with your competitors. Lean UX is the latest evolution in product design and it combines the Lean Startup method with traditional user experienced-based design to shorten product development cycles. But, it goes much further than that. It actually leads to better product design because it relies on continuous feedback from customers.

A few other things make Lean UX different from traditional UX. It forces your team to be much more collaborative. Also, it focuses on delivering on business objectives versus documented specs. Lastly, it puts you in a new mindset that you can use to improve other areas of your business.

The Lean UX Process

Pic of The Lean UX process

Main Sections Of  The Book

Section 1: Introduction and Principles

  • Learn about the 3 foundations of Lean UX: design thinking, Agile software development, and the Lean Startup method.
  • Learn about the core principles you’ll put into action (in Section 2).

Section 2: Process

  • This is the largest section of the book and it tells you exactly how the UX process works.
  • You’ll discover how to frame product design in terms of assumptions, hypotheses, outcomes, and features.
  • Next, the authors explain how to set up a collaborative design process.
  • In true Lean Startup fashion, a chapter is devoted to explaining how to create Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and experiments for testing these.
  • This sections finishes up with advice on which techniques to use for continuous and collaborative discovery of customers’ needs throughout the design process.

Section 3: Making It Work

  • If you’ve already been using the Agile software development method, a chapter is devoted to helping you integrate Lean UX with Agile.
  • Lastly, not to be overlooked is the topic of shifting your organization so as to make Lean UX work within your unique employee structure.
Tools Provided

Here are a few of the many tools/frameworks provided:

  • Hypothesis Statement
    • this template allows you to express your assumptions in a testable format
  • Business Assumptions Worksheet
    • this worksheet compiles all the assumptions of team members to show where initial assumptions about customer/product diverge among the team
  • Persona Template
    • helps you standardize your customer personas and include only the most relevant info
  • Design Studio
    • explains how to bring a cross-functional team together to create visual solutions to a design problem
  • Style Guides
    • best practices for style guides that promote a standardized formatting of design elements (such as Call-To-Action buttons on a website)
  • Prototypes
    • several examples of typical prototype formats for testing
  • Activity Calendar for Continuous and Collaborative Discovery
    • a proven weekly calendar of activities for collecting customer feedback

Evaluation

After reading this book I am fully aware of the benefits and process of using Lean UX in a company. I can see how a larger company may have some organizational issues with implementing Lean UX, but I can’t imagine a startup using a process other than this one for designing its products. I enjoyed this book because it is very succinct but impactful. The book fits in well with this month’s focus on books that show how to implement the Lean Startup method in their company.

It was very difficult to find any faults with the book. The only criticism I could think of was that it focused heavily on the user experience as it relates to website/software design and didn’t provide much in the way of design for other non-digital services/products.

Final Comments

I highly recommend this book, especially for startups who have not begun to formalize their product design process. I feel that there is no better way to approach product design than the Lean UX process. The benefits of speed, collaboration, and integration of continuous customer feedback can only produce better products. This should create better financial outcomes as well for the business. If you work in a larger company and want to adopt Lean UX, don’t worry, the book will provide you with what you need to make it happen. I suggest that anyone wanting to be at the forefront of product design read this book to at least understand what is possible and what your competitors may likely be using to create their products.

 

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Click here to check out Lean UX on Amazon.com

 

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