Lean UX methodology establishes a design method opposed to traditional UX method.
Whereas traditional UX methodology is centered around result, Lean UX focuses primarily on the process.
How is Lean UX applied?
This design process is applied by eliminating design requirements. Problems are compiled, we create hypotheses and new hypotheses. Lean UX works as a cycle. In the first place, designers elaborate research and make hypothetical conditions. Then, the product starts to be built. The procedure requires more testing, hypotheses and feedback. After it the team comes back to iterations.
UX designers are asked to continually act with this methodology after each feedback. That is why processes are based upon iterative phases.
In general terms, Lean UX is profoundly collaborative and functional and requires more and better teamwork. Each team must attentively establish which ideas do not answer the initial or newer hypotheses. This way the idea can be abandoned and we can quickly think of a new path. The main objective is to receive feedback as soon as possible.
Lean UX foundations
There are three main pillars to Lean UX: Design Thinking, Agile and Lean Startup methodology.
Design Thinking is important to Lean UX because it requires that each aspect of the business can be tackled with the tools that are proposed. Design Thinking gives designers the permission to work outside their own limitations and encourages people who are not designers to use design methodologies to try and find solutions for problems they can find during their professional career. Design Thinking encourages teams to cross-collaborate regarding their roles and taking into account product design in a holistic perspective.
The second foundation to Lean UX is Agile methodology. Developers have been using this methodology for years to reduce the time needed to complete a design and provide the client with solutions continuously. Although Agile methodologies may create some obstacles for designers during the process, the main values of the method are the real core to Lean UX.
The third major foundation to Lean UX is the Lean Startup method, created by Eric Ries. This methodology is based on presenting every project as a startup, where continuous experimentation is the method of operating. Through short cycles we can continue, modify or discard ideas rapidly to keep improving. This method uses a feedback loop called BML (Build-Measure-Learn). This loop is necessary so that we can reduce risk related to the creation of the project to a minimum, while we allow the team to create the product in a fast way and learn from their mistakes. Teams have to build Minimum Viable Products (MVP) and hand them in to the clients. The reactions of users to Minimum Viable Products will determine the decisions taken. MVP will allow us to reduce waste of resources and risk to a minimum. This will result in the most simple version of the product, where functionalities are restricted to the maximum. The objective is to understand the essence of what makes the project work.
Phases in Lean UX vs. Traditional UX
Whereas traditional UX is based mainly on result, the success of Lean UX depends on feedback and fast-pace decisions that all the team takes.
Here are the differences in the phases of each methodology:
Traditional UX phases
1 — Identifying the objective and the problem
2 — Research
3 — Building personas and maps
4 — Compile ideas
5 — Build prototypes and test them
6 — Transform the prototype to the final product
7 — Launch
Lean UX phases
1 — Research
2 — Compile ideas
3 — Build prototypes and wireframes
4 — Collect feedback and data, create more hypotheses, determine value proposal
5 — Test and add interactions
6 — Go back to step two if the proposal falls short
7 — Launch
Testing in Lean UX vs. Traditional UX
Although tests are applied through Lean UX and traditional UX methodologies are similar, there are some key differences. In this comparative scoreboard we can see where the importance of fast testing in Lean UX arises.
Traditional UX testing
1 — Teams are focused on final results
2 — Final results answer to requirements stated at the beginning
3 — Conditions are stated at the beginning of the process
4 — Research is done before starting design
5 — Initial planning and ideas lead to the resulting product
6 — Testing is executed after development
Lean UX testing
1 — Teams are focused on the experience during the design process
2 — Initial project briefing has no requirements
3 — The spotlight of the design plan is hypothetical
4 — Test, analysis, research continuously are needed on every phase
5 — Teams collect feedback, more problems and hypotheses through all the process
6 — More hypotheses and iterations are developed
Is Lean UX always valid?
It depends. As every other methodology, its use depends on the project we are working on at the moment and on our team.
Hanging onto just one methodology or other would be a mistake. Even if Lean UX, together with Agile and Design thinking have positioned themselves as the main path to optimize team times, in UX and development these are not the only valid options.
Our advice is that you keep your eyes always on the needs of the user and, from that point on, know how to recognise the limitations of each methodology, only then will you be able to choose the right journey depending on which project we are taking care of and not applying any methodology blindly.
If you are thinking about learning more about UX Research, take a look at our Advanced Research Specialisation Programme (this training is in Spanish).
This article is a translation of one published in our corporate website: