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Exploring Lean UX Design Management System and Its Benefits in Detail

Alekh Verma | February 9, 2023
Lean UX Guide

Now with the advancement of technology and the competitive nature of the industry, there’s additional pressure on the designers to not just deliver a superior product, but also to deliver it faster than ever. This kind of pressure has given birth to Lean, a new and agile way of working that works on the principles of quicker iteration and gathering user feedback in the development process. Lean UX is a collaborative design management system that mainly focuses on minimizing wasted time and quicker problem-solving.

What is Lean UX?

Lean UX is the process of incorporating agile methodology and lean principles into product and experience design. It takes into account the importance, purpose, usefulness, and need of design elements to produce an open and informed user experience. Implementing design elements with the concept of a minimum viable product (MVP) is something Lean UX accomplishes differently than conventional design methodologies. Your team must concentrate on the underlying experience rather than just the outside appearance of the design when producing this concept.

By releasing components in sprints built around a minimal viable framework, you can effectively target customer experience through purposeful design strategies. Additionally, since you already have a clear understanding of how your design connects to the user's experience, implementing feedback becomes much simpler.

Understanding how the agile methodology affects your workflow is crucial when adopting a Lean UX framework. The most important principles needed by lean UX are listed below:

  • Eliminating Waste: The team must concentrate on getting rid of cliched mistakes, time-consuming jobs, and pointless design processes. The design process must be streamlined, but this won't be accomplished fast. To swiftly and effectively create an MVP, waste must be eliminated.
  • Collaboration and Transparency: The fact that Lean UX doesn't operate in silos is one of the reasons it is successful. Everyone, especially individuals outside the conventional design team, must be able to routinely contribute. Making sure that the final product matches the collective vision of the entire organization is made easier when engineers, project managers, marketing teams, and leadership can all contribute on an equal footing.
  • Turnover: Turnover stresses product iteration rather than employment positions. This is a perk of eliminating waste from the process, which enables you to produce improvements at a breakneck pace. Making quick adjustments is essential to the process because you're rolling out simpler MVP components initially and improving on them afterward rather than launching a whole UX design scheme. To find the ideal experience for the user, your team will need to experiment to a certain extent.

Examine Lean UX Process/Cycle

UX-process-cycle

You must set up your iterations in cyclical sprints if you want to successfully integrate Lean UX into your team's workflow. If you already use the agile methodology, you'll see this topic frequently. Here is a birds-eye perspective of a few crucial Lean UX process steps.

1.  Speculations & Assumptions

Having a well-defined hypothesis helps teams avoid making substantial design modifications early on, which can be time-consuming and delay their development. The hypothesis, which is based on the user's desire and the anticipated outcome of the design change, kicks off the Lean UX process. In an effort to reduce project size and eliminate waste, this has been done.

Teams must address some project-related assumptions as part of the hypothesis-building process. These consist of:

  • What benefit does this change have for the company? Why is it crucial to us?
  • Who are the users for whom this is being created?
  • Why do they value this change for them? How have they indicated that they require this update?
  • What will the particular upgrade provide (what features)?

Once your hypothesis is in place, you may start designing your project based on your stated assumptions.

2.  Design

Everyone involved is familiar with the product design phase. You will start assembling the components of your project based on your assumptions. This is also a good moment to start experimenting with which features address user intention and how to best arrange them for a seamless user experience.

It's critical to stress that in Lean UX, the design phase is shared collaboratively throughout the process rather than being finished in a silo. This design phase will adhere to lean principles like collaboration, transparency, and quick iterations to identify the best solutions, just like any other phase of the agile process.

3.  Build MVP

It's time to start incorporating your early design screens into your MVP after you've finished them. The phrase "minimum viable product," or "MVP," can also be used to refer to a minimum marketable feature, or "MMF."

Similar to the design phase, the building process will involve many short sprints and collaborative reviews that end with the production of the finished product. Even when it's finished, your product should still be a respectably unfinished but valuable rendition of what your customers will enjoy. By doing so, you may incorporate input as soon as possible and create value around the most crucial aspects.

4.  Evaluate

Even after you have created your MVP, the work is not done. It's time to review the finished product as a team and work cooperatively to make changes. Gathering user feedback and determining what may be improved here is a wonderful place to start.

Finding out what waste was produced during the previous sprint and how to get rid of it are additional benefits of the evaluation stage. The evaluation phase serves as a smooth transition between your most recent sprint and your upcoming project. In order to prioritize these modifications in your subsequent sprint, you can optimize and learn from your previous project.

The following are the three key ideas behind Lean UX:

Lean-ux
  • Think about mental models, storyboards, sketches, user research, assumptions, and ideation.
  • Create wireframes, minimum viable products (MVPs), value propositions, landing pages, and hypotheses.
  • Data & analytics analysis, usability testing, customer meetings, and user input should all be checked.

Although it may be simple to imagine these as three sequential processes, this is far from the truth. With each cycle ending and restarting, the Lean UX process is a never-ending loop in which the product progresses and gets better.

Key Principles of Lean UX

There are 5 main tenets of lean UX. Let's examine each of these guidelines in greater depth.

1.  Work as a team.

Lean UX's first guiding principle is working as a team. This entails breaking with convention and bringing designers, product designers, engineers, and developers together to collaborate, as opposed to traditionally assigning tasks based on expertise and maintaining distinct design teams.

You'll develop more varied and well-rounded solutions to the issues raised by the user testing if you have a diversified team with a variety of backgrounds and disciplines in the mix. Additionally, it promotes a common knowledge of the problems you face during the design process and that of the user. As you might expect, this is frequently easier said than done, but the initial getting accustomed to is well worth it.

2.  Solve the right problem

The proper problems should be solved over the incorrect ones, according to the second tenet of Lean UX. Lean UX largely relies on a cycle of continuous learning made possible by ongoing feedback. The team will be able to narrow its focus and concentrate on fixing the right problem with a stronger understanding of the challenge at hand thanks to this feedback.

You'll be able to concentrate on finding a solution without taking a big risk by working in little steps, such as a weekly feedback session that influences a week of work. This way, you won't have lost as much time—say, three or four months—if your solution doesn't work and you need to reframe the issue.

3.  Design Collaboratively

Collaboration is the third and possibly most significant tenet of Lean UX. In the area of design, there is a shift away from specializing in one or two roles and toward "many hats" job descriptions. The need for designers who can collaborate across disciplines is growing, which is paving the road for a collaborative future where Lean UX will prosper. Having a communal whiteboard or painted white wall that anyone may add to is one technique to encourage collaboration between teams.

4.  Be flexible

Flexibility is the fourth major element of Lean UX. In traditional UX, you must constantly deal with a significant degree of ambiguity, but the conventional course of action is to try to mitigate it. This is not the case with Lean UX, where you should always assume that the plan will change, regardless of how well it is proceeding. As a result, you should make your plans appropriately.

For instance, your second round of user testing may reveal that your initial hypotheses were incorrect and that you must start over. This may go against some people's natural instincts, and many may be inclined to instead make a few tiny adjustments and carry on as usual. But for the Lean UX approach to work, flexibility is essential.

5.  De-emphasize Deliverables

A de-emphasis on designing for deliverables is the fifth and final basic principle of lean user experience. Lean UX focuses on modifying your design process as you go along to become more agile-compatible, whereas traditional design promotes upfront effort. Lean UX states that you should figure out what dialogue has to be held in order to get to the next step, which is not mean that it is devoid of deliverables. In brief, Lean UX emphasizes conversations throughout the design process rather than deliverables.

You may have observed that Lean UX really has several similarities to the design thinking method based on these five principles. A crucial component of the design thinking process is paying attention to the consumer as well as the collaborative brainstorming method for problem-solving (and then testing those solutions).

Additionally, developing empathy is crucial to Lean UX and the design thinking process. The final design thinking component is to pay great attention to the needs of the consumer. Lean UX is even considered to be greatly influenced by the design process in a variety of ways.

How is Lean UX Different than Traditional UX Design?

In contrast to traditional UX, which places more of an emphasis on thorough deliverables based on the user testing that was conducted at the beginning of the project, lean UX places a greater emphasis on refining the product as you go along to ensure that the final result is the best it can be. Instead of waiting until you have a final product before making the necessary adjustments or modifications, lean UX constantly asks what improvements and changes may be made right now.

When it comes to user testing, lean UX is more expedient and less rigorous than traditional UX, while both adhere to the same broad principles. To determine what changes, need to be made right now, lean UX tries to remove all distractions and focus exclusively on reality. For months, traditional UX might evaluate the feedback meticulously. Simply said, lean UX is viewed as learning-oriented while traditional UX is thought of as results-oriented.

What are the Benefits of Lean UX?

Traditional UX design techniques involve time-consuming roadblocks like monitoring meetings or sessions, pointless documentation, team silos, and inadequate departmental communication. Cross-departmental collaboration is encouraged by lean UX, and standards that provide no value to the organization or financial returns are eliminated.

Teams may finish design phases much more rapidly and, most importantly, more efficiently with the aid of lean UX. Another important factor in this is time savings, which indicates reduced resource waste. A design is improved as a result of early client research and testing input. This approach places a higher value on ongoing experimentation and raw data than on lengthy paper outputs.

Design teams can access a variety of ideas, insights, and points of view by forming cross-functional teams with people from different departments. Teams can more quickly test more concepts and produce better minimum viable products with this amount of data at their disposal.

Let's explore the advantages of Lean UX in more detail now that you are aware of the differences between traditional and lean UX. Why do design teams choose Lean so frequently?

1.  Lean UX Is Cost-Effective

Project management can cost up to 20% of the total cost of the project, thus it is not cheap. On the other hand, starting a project with bad project management will result in more negative effects than positive ones. You can cut costs by implementing lean management, which also removes any threats to your project's finances. So, the Lean method makes sure teams keep focused on what is critical for the organization rather than wasting time on a project that will never be finished.

Every decision is verified repeatedly, resulting in a solid base from which a project can be built. In fact, this has many benefits on its own and creates a project with a strong financial foundation. Numerous projects have failed as a result of large changes that had to be made at the eleventh hour, placing a heavy financial load on the finished product.  

A Gartner survey found that initiatives with expenditures under $350,000 had a failure rate that was about 50% higher than that of major projects with expenses above $1 million. High-cost variance and termination are two of the most frequently mentioned factors that contribute to this failure.

Everyone in the UX business is aware of how late changes can cause a UX design project to fail. Spending money on evidence-based decisions will ensure that innovation occurs quickly and early when it is still feasible.

2.  Increased Collaboration

Lean idealistically promotes collaboration and cross-functionality since lean UX teams are frequently cross-functional. This implies that developers no longer have the ability to work alone when creating a system because Lean pulls together people from different disciplines.

Jeff Gothelf asserts that diverse teams provide superior solutions since every problem is viewed from a variety of angles. The need for gated, handoff-based processes is reduced as heterogeneous teams are formed. Instead, teams can exchange knowledge informally, promoting collaboration earlier on and strengthening group ties.

However, the procedure demands excellent collaboration and communication among the entire development team. If you are one of those devoted designers, Lean UX will prevent you from making your entire team wait on you whenever something needs to be resolved. Additionally, partnerships in Lean UX are not just limited to experts. In practice, collaboration and communication with clients are also given priority, allowing you to share a common understanding of the problems and solutions with customers.

3.  Saves Time

The Lean UX approach reduces components that do not significantly contribute to the development of a service or product for users, hence eliminating the waste that most design processes entail. Its methodology emphasizes collaboration above thorough documentation and is collaborative.

Agile software development (ASD) prioritizes usable software over thorough documentation, according to the Journal of Software Engineering Research and Development (JSERD). Waste is everything that does not further the goals of the project and is quickly disposed of. This method precludes additional documentation or back and forth with designers. Even though the Lean methodology isn't quite linear, it stops the designers from wasting a lot of time.

With its think, make, check process architecture, lean UX prioritizes quick fixes over lengthy periods of building a well-thought-out product. Therefore, there is no need to spend a lot of time on a big project and then test it afterward. Iteration is a key component of lean UX. Analysis and development go quickly and are not given to engineers after months of work.

Both designers and engineers are involved in the Lean UX process. Additionally, everything moves much more quickly than in a typical/traditional design and development process because everyone owns what they produce.

4.  Streamlined Feedback Process

Lean UX is built on the premise that doing something, as opposed to just talking about it, is more beneficial for design teams. According to Jeff Gothelf, developing the first draught of a concept is more valuable than debating it in a conference room for a half-day. The most insightful criticism you might get while developing a product isn't likely to come from a team member. The most significant opinions and remarks come from your customers (those who will actually utilize the product or service).

Client feedback helps designers reevaluate their existing design concepts. They can also carry out this reframe in accordance with their company's goals. An excellent way to think about deploying applications is with the help of lean UX. Additionally, it is easy for designers to understand, which is a significant benefit for businesses.

Lean UX is not about creating waste, thus it is not recommended that you waste time discussing and risk falling victim to the dreaded analysis paralysis.

5.  User-Centered

Lean UX and User-Centered Design (UCD) have a close relationship. In the iterative development process known as user-centered design (UCD), the design team keeps the needs of the client in mind at all times. To create incredibly helpful and transparent solutions for its customers, its designers combine research and design approaches to involve clients throughout the design process. Having validation take the lead is highly valued by UCD and Lean UX. Both approaches urge design teams to take a step back from the undertaking, using testing as a benchmark.

The foundation of UCD projects is a thorough understanding of the clients, jobs, and environments. The entire UX will be recorded and addressed along the process. Like UCD, the Lean approach is focused on creating products that are unquestionably suitable for customers. This involves creating a project that fits into the lives of your regular users as well as completing one that is financially sound.

Lean designers may see their ideas in action by verifying all of your projects with clients, decreasing the possibility of subpar project designs in the latter stages.

6.  Improved Product Outcome

The objectives that designers are trying to accomplish are the results. In Lean UX, design teams aim to produce an output that significantly and quantitatively alters client interactions and behaviors. Progress in lean UX is gauged by results that have been precisely defined. Every time design teams attempt to predict which components or features will achieve particular goals; they are typically speculating. Even if it is simpler to supervise the introduction of specific feature sets, designers frequently cannot determine whether a feature will be useful until it is in the hands of the customer.

By monitoring outcomes (and the progress made toward them), according to Jeff Gothelf, "we obtain insight into the efficacy of the features we are constructing. We can decide objectively whether a feature should be preserved, changed, or replaced if it isn't working well. This method enables designers to efficiently create MVPs based on their presumptions and evaluate how they work.

And as Jeff Gothelf notes, design teams can conclude the features if the products don't function well (if they will be retained, updated, or removed).

7.  Eliminates Heavy Deliverables

An additional significant advantage of lean UX is the elimination of time-consuming deliverables. With enhanced methods, designers can gain shared knowledge with collaborators. The perspective of designers is profoundly altered by lean UX. Lean UX shifts the emphasis of the design process away from the documents being produced by the design team. It emphasizes the accomplishments of the design team instead. Client discussions on the product being developed substantially reduce as cross-functional collaboration increases and become much more outcome-focused.

It used to be all about the paperwork and the design components. However, after the introduction of Lean UX, design teams have started to take those elements' usability and usefulness into account. Jeff Gothelf asserts that "Good products solve client problems, not documents."

Finding the features or innovations that have the biggest impact on the target audience should be the design team's first focus. The tools the design team utilized to gather and disseminate that insight are useless. The quality of the product is all that matters, as determined by the client's responsiveness.

Conclusion

Take care of making the necessary adjustments and seeing to it that they are ingrained in the corporate world if you respect your projects and know that some features need to be adjusted. The effectiveness of your design team can be increased, and the caliber of your products can be raised, by incorporating Lean UX concepts into your innovation operations. To accommodate the requirements and needs of your design team, adapt or alter the framework. Lean UX also yields better outcomes, enables team collaboration, and enables the achievement of design goals in a noticeably shorter amount of time and at a reduced cost.

In conclusion, design teams are realizing more and more that Lean UX is the long-term design approach. We hope that these advantages of lean UX will convince you to maintain the agility of your chosen design processes.

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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