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What is Lean UX?

What is Lean UX?

  • New faces of collaboration

    From the ubiquitous Post-it® Note to Post-it® Dry Erase Surface, Post-it® Brand offers a number of tools to bring out the very best collaborative experiences amongst your colleagues. However, we know that collaboration isn’t simply limited to tools — nor is it confined to a handful of techniques. That’s why we’ve teamed with Jeff Gothelf — a speaker and thought leader on the future of user experience and design — to offer his approach to collaboration and the benefits gained from sharing & working together.

  • Lean UX is a process in which product design is shared and streamlined across different areas of expertise. This process stands on three critical foundations.

  • 1. Design Thinking

    Design thinking is important for Lean UX because it takes the explicit position that every aspect of a business can be approached with design methods. It gives designers permission and precedent to work beyond their typical boundaries. It also encourages nondesigners to use design methods to solve the problems they face in their roles. Design thinking is a critical foundation that encourages teams to collaborate across roles and consider product design from a holistic perspective.

  • 2. Agile Development Applied To Product Design

    The second foundation of Lean UX applies the four core principles of Agile development to product design:

    1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. To generate the best solutions quickly, you must engage the entire team. Ideas must be exchanged freely and frequently. The constraints of current processes and production tools are eschewed in favor of conversation with colleagues.
    2. Working software over comprehensive documentation. Every businessproblem has endless solutions, and each member of a team will have an opinion on which is best. The challenge is figuring out which solution is most viable. By building working software sooner, solutions can be assessed for market fit and viability.
    3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Collaborating with your teammates and customers builds a shared understanding of the problem space and proposed solutions. It creates consensus behind decisions. The result? Faster iterations, real involvement in product making, and team investment in validated learning. It also lessens dependency on heavy documentation, as everyone on the team has already participated in making the decisions that were used to require written communication and defense.
    4. Responding to change over following a plan. The assumption in Lean UX is that the initial product designs will be wrong, so the goal should be to find out what’s wrong with them as soon as possible. Once we discover what’s working and what’s not, we adjust our proposals and test again. This input from the market keeps us agile, constantly nudging us in a “more right” direction.


  • 3. Lean Startup Method

    Lean Startup uses a feedback loop called “build-measure-learn” to minimize project risk and gets teams building quickly and learning quickly. Teams build Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and ship them quickly to begin the process of learning as early as possible.

    Each design is a proposed business solution—a hypothesis. Your goal is to validate the proposed solution as efficiently as possible by using customer feedback. The smallest thing you can build to test each hypothesis is your MVP. The MVP doesn’t have to be made of code; it can be an approximation of the end experience. You collect what you learn from your MVP and then evolve your ideas. Then you do it again.

  • Jeff Gothelf

    Jeff Gothelf is a lean UX evangelist, spreading the gospel of great team collaboration, product innovation and evidence-based decision making. He is the co-author (with Josh Seiden) of “Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience” and the upcoming “Sense and Respond” (sensingbook.com)

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