There’s no group with more incentive to use a rapid mobile app development process and save on design costs than entrepreneurs. All businesses must be mindful of budget and timeline. For entrepreneurs, the pressure is even greater. Failure to achieve on-time, in-budget delivery is the difference between the continued stream of investment dollars needed to generate a critical mass of adopters and abandoning ship.
But, the need for quick validation isn’t just reserved for entrepreneurs. Before committing to the creation of a mobile app, larger businesses may seek more user data to understand whether the need justifies the development. Product owners and enterprise leaders are in competition for funding too, only this time from stakeholders. They must often justify the need for development to department heads or internal decision makers. In larger organizations, this can be a daunting task.
What holds investors and decision makers back from opening their purse strings to fund great ideas? The answer: Their inability to visualize them.
A rapid mobile app development process with lean UX included is the best way to quickly, efficiently and economically bring ideas to life.
Lean UX: A primer
Unlike more traditional design processes, lean UX is based on collaborative sketching and quick reviews/validation throughout the process.
How is this different:
- Designers spend less time documenting and updating highly-annotated wireframes
- Designers can spend more time iterating on the value and simplicity of the mobile experience
- Assumptions are checked with stakeholders and developers throughout to cut down on costly rework inflating the schedule and budget
Building out a lean UX methodology
What does it take? While various lean UX manifestos have been published, every company takes a slightly different approach depending on the project, client or availability of team members to give feedback. A rapid app development process using lean UX starts with Discovery.
During Discovery, the project team identifies the needs of the business through a variety research methods from surveys to focus groups.
During this phase, the needs and requirements defined in the Discovery phase are formalized as your project team determines how the user will interact with each feature.
During Definition, the funnel of possibility narrows. The features are rapidly understood and captured. All technical assumptions should be validated with a liaison from the development team.
Artifacts created during Definition might include:
- Low-fidelity wireframes
- User flows
Definition do’s and don’ts
- Use low-fidelity wireframing techniques.
- Wireframe only what you need for the feature set you are developing for the first release, not the entire application or solution. This is a key way lean UX differs from its more document-heavy predecessor.
- Annotate wireframes if unnecessary. This eats up time and budget. Determine whether your project calls for a hard copy sketch, annotated medium-fidelity wireframes or high-fidelity wireframes complete with finalized typography.
Remember: Unnecessary work is the enemy of the efficient.
Once your project has moved to the design phase, use these techniques to save time and truly be lean.
Use the same designer for UX and UI. This eliminates the need to onboard new team members and allows your designer to be more fully allocated to the project.
Research and rely on patterns for efficient, adoptable design. Don’t reinvent the wheel if the one you have already turns. Patterns. They’re a lean UX designer’s best friend. Make sure your team understands the power of leveraging interaction patterns users are familiar with. Don’t needlessly innovate. Instead, focus your innovation to create the cleanest, most intuitive experience possible.
Q: Where do designers look for UX patterns?
Develop and test
As with the previous steps in the process, the Develop and Test phases aren’t static. They overlap.
Words for a wise designer
Patterns are great, but…
We are beginning to see an upheaval due as cross-platform development tools like Xamarin and PhoneGap become more common. Monitor the industry and adjust to new patterns as they develop.
Once you’re done designing, try to break it…
Continue to validate your design with stakeholders to avoid complacency.
Benefits of a lean UX rapid mobile app development strategy
You can launch faster and begin testing user interactions. Marketing and product teams used to rely on their intuition to make decisions. Now intuition is only the first step. By launching fast and iterating with lean UX and a rapid mobile app development process, teams can improve and further build out the best ideas and lose minimal time and money exploring the less valuable ones.
Empathy mapping is one way to test the usability of your app. Gather 2-5 stakeholders, designers, developers and strategists together. Have them assess the product of your lean UX cycle whether it’s a series of user flows, wireframes, design mocks, a clickable prototype or working software.
Testing isn’t the final step in the process. Perhaps the most important is learning. This learning can come from analytics, feedback or a new phase of discovery after the release is launched. Then the process begins anew.