Picture the typical UX process: the design team is given a set of requirements by a business, they familiarize themselves with the desired requirements, ideate different solutions that meet specifications, build a prototype, and then present the prototype back to the requesting team. This process repeats until the product is agreed upon by the designers and the business team.
But in an article by Nick Babich, the question is posed, “What if we found ourselves building something that nobody wanted? In that case, what did it matter if we did it on time and on budget?”
The article then highlights the pros of a more agile approach to UX design-Lean UX. Lean UX is defined as “hypothesis-driven product design’ as opposed to the typical UX process mentioned above, which measures success on whether or not the product was created on time and meets requirements. Instead, hypothesis-driven product design starts with a team posing a problem to solve and measures success on how the end users react to the product.
A Lean UX team will explore a problem and form assumptions- assumptions falling into two categories, user and business assumptions which account for what the designers think the stakeholders and end users will need from the product. Based on the assumptions the team finds, a hypothesis can be generated- usually in a “should” statement like “users should be able to complete the sales transaction in five minutes” for example. The hypothesis should be then validated with a prototype and tested with users, feedback from users being key to repivot the product in there is a low conversion rate or unhappy customers.
What to consider when trying this practice for yourself:
- You’ll need a deep understanding of users– product teams can’t make proper assumptions if they don’t understand their end user
- Collaborative environment– if your business is split in silos, it’ll be hard to get things done. A cross-functional team comprised of a variety of skill-sets is best for a Lean UX experience
- Be ready for multiple iterations– from rough sketches to whole prototypes, a Lean UX team has to be prepared to flip a design entirely based on the feedback from users and stakeholders
Need to see it in practice? Well, check out this interview with senior UX designer Jaesung Jo at Samsung SDS, about how Samsung tried unsuccessfully to pivot to an Agile business model in several different iterations before landing on a lean UX model. Most successful about the program? How through Lean and Agile they “reduced waste. In a large company like Samsung, unnecessary processes or documentation are frequently created. But sometimes they are created and used without knowing what for. We worked towards having only processes and documents that are really needed to make the product. And we minimized or eliminated the meaningless ones”