We’re all searching for ways to do more with less. Attain the formerly unachievable with a smarter budget and time allocations. Race from idea to software in six weeks with the help of a lean UX app design process.
What lean UX is, and what it isn’t
Lean isn’t a guarantee. Rather, it’s a methodology that sets software teams up for success through rapid discovery with users or stakeholders, constant feedback and iterative thinking throughout the app design process coupled with limited time spent documenting deliverables.
Whereas traditional UX was categorized by months of research translated into wireframes, lean UX is differentiated by short cycles of concepting, prototyping, feedback, iteration and feature validation.
Talk with your target audience. Or those who know them best.
Each project should begin by identifying the needs of the business. This will later inform the requirements of your solution and the priority they are developed. Speed to market is everything. The goal of user research during discovery is to ask questions early and often to avoid making costly mistakes due to risky (or seemingly low-risk) assumptions. (We split the responsibility between our Design and Solutions teams). Businesses choose from a variety of tactics depending on their timetable. All fit well within a lean UX app design process.
Focus groups. Gathering clients or members of your target audience in a focus group for user and SME interviews to better understand their unique problems and talk through key features of your solution is considered one of the best ways to vet your idea. It allows you to hear their thoughts and see reactions firsthand. Customer service representatives or sale representatives who interface with your target audience or clients on a near regular basis provide another repository of worthy insight. They keenly understand your customers’ current challenges, which should inform the requirements of your solution.
Stakeholder interviews. Stakeholder interviews are integral to the mobile or web app design process especially when engaging in a large scale project. During these sessions, designers can better understand delivery requirements and any metrics stakeholders are striving toward. If completed, they can help businesses rank needs by importance and to maintain an effective hold on scope over the course of a project. Stakeholders are considered representative users and are often the most readily available source of knowledge regarding user goals, patterns, demographics and what defines project success.
We typically keep stakeholder interviews to 1 hour with 8-16 hours to write the interview and to prep materials. Interviews can be conducted in person, via conference line or with more than one stakeholder at a time.
Use these question to understand the stakeholders goals and how they would like to be involved going forward:
- What’s your relationship with the product?
- What experience do you bring to the role?
- What is is the key product or service the solution will deliver?
- Describe the core group who will be using the product.
- When is the release date for the version we’re working on?
- What concerns you about this project?
- What is the main objective for the project? What will it solve for the business?
- How will you, personally, define success for this project?
- What would you like your role to be throughout the remainder of the project?
Surveys. Surveying users or potential users is the least involved method of discovery. In short, a set of questions is crafted to assess attitudes, needs, past interactions and or characteristics. Best used to count or validate concepts, surveying helps design team distill the needs or perspectives of the sample size and extrapolate (or apply) them to the larger population.
We’ve surveyed users to determine:
- Whether offline capabilities are necessary
- Pain points users have experienced
- Age of users
- Many more
Before beginning a survey, seek to understand what the information needs are, any questions the team is trying to solve for, project objectives driving the survey and what constitutes an acceptable sample population.
Insights gathered during focus groups, stakeholder interviews, or surveys provide alignment with key priorities or challenges and the perspective needed to limit or expand scope during the course of the project to manage budget. Discovery provides design teams the context they need to react to feedback given by stakeholders or users as the project progresses.
Feedback in lean UX
Validation is the key to effectively realizing lean UX. The entire point of the process is to design, gather feedback and iterate based on that feedback — quickly. The ability to conference with key stakeholders or sketch together as new ideas come to light, only make the cycles of intentional action and learning more efficient.
Measuring the success of lean UX
Charting success is as much a part of the lean UX app design process as discovery, sketching and validation. Success can be measured using a qualitative or quantitative approach.
Customer validation (qualitative measure) — Seek customer validation on a continuing basis throughout the design and development lifecycle. Checking assumptions can range from providing input on requirements and interactions to reviewing sketches or low fidelity wireframes. Feedback can come from sample users, true customers, salespeople or other teams closely in tune with the behavior of end users.
KPIs (quantitative measure) — Selecting key performance indicators early on in the process is critically important to understanding the success of the design and creates a benchmark used to measure subsequent iterations. Examples of useful KPIs include time on task, user error rate and the use of search rather than the use of UI within the mobile, web or platform experience.