Lean UX & MVP – Strategies To Build Solutions That Solve Real Problems For The End-Users
Posted by Sandeep Sharma
The introduction of Lean User Experience & Minimum Viable Product in the field of UI engineering has revolutionised the web design strategies and development processes to a great extent. In fact, the traditional user experience designing concept that solely focused on what we call as the “deliverables business” has taken a backseat and giant firms are now struggling to bring upfront the right design thinking and extraordinary innovation in their new projects. Not just because a webpage with perfect UX is going to be noticed more but because the one with a bad design & poor UI will frustrate customers to an extent that they’ll end up purchasing from a competitor’s website. Also, improving UX has become an essential part of SEO strategy as Google might include UX as a vital ranking signal in its algorithm. Also, Google’s Panda 4.1 is determined to give credits to the website that includes features to improve user experience.
So, let’s peep into this article which first clears the concept of Lean UX, suggests the right UX strategy for businesses and then shares insights on the journey to build a successful user experience via Lean UX. In the end, the article also explains 11 important principles of Lean UX that will help readers to implement the concept in an effective way.
The Confusion between Agile UX Vs Lean UX – Brief background to clear the concept
Both the terms Agile UX and Lean UX hold a strong relationship with the product design & development process and often it becomes very confusing to choose the right strategy that can fit into the broader version of new user experience design.
While Agile UX stemmed from software development and dared to go up against the classical Waterfall model, the concept of Lean UX germinated from the idea of Lean Start-up put forth by Eric Ries. Jeff Gothelf, the pioneer in the field of user experience designing introduced the concept of Lean UX and MVP in an endeavour to solve real business problems for the end users.
To sum it up all, “Lean UX is the strategy that brings the true nature of any work to light faster, with less emphasis on deliverable and greater focus on the actual experience being designed” while “Agile UX is based on Agile Software methodology in the UX Design context and aims to unify web designers & developers in the agile process of product development.”
The Right UX Strategy – Combine Lean UX + Agile Development
Combining the best of Agile development and design features, Lean UX focuses on building solutions that actually target user’s needs, their likes and dislikes to drive business direction and then refine ideas accordingly.
When Lean UX applies the following four core principles of Agile Development, it helps project managers to achieve business goals while improving the overall conversion rates.
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working on software & creating real user experiences over comprehensive documentation & excessive paperwork
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation to predict the market response
- Responding to change over following a plan
The Journey to build great user experiences via Lean UX – Get out of the ‘deliverables’ business
From wireframes and interactive flow diagrams to content taxonomies and specification documents, don’t just rush to meet deadlines and finishing deliverables one after another because that’s not UX. UX is not a formality, it’s about delivering experiences. And if you’re actually looking forward to deliver an improved successful, smarter and faster user experience that people will truly love and admire; you’ve to get out of the “deliverables” business and put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Here I’ve described a few UX strategies along with some quick tips at the bottom that will help you complete your journey to a successful user experience.
1.Shift your Thinking – Perceive every product as a solution to somebody’s problem
When it comes to UX, everyone dreams of a brilliant idea that will come out of thin air when your planets will be at the oddest position. Unfortunately, fortune won’t get you a good UX idea. For a successful UX strategy, you need to inculcate design thinking that focuses on creating designs that actually aim at solving real problems for the end-users.
2.Work as 1 Consolidated Team – Remove the wall between designers, developers & project managers
Consolidate your Design, Development & Management teams by working together as a single cross functional team of nearly 10-15 members for every project. Allow everyone to research what the market actually needs, discuss scenarios & engage in every step for greater team efficiency while implementing lessons learned in a collective manner.
3.Balance business targets & user’s needs to come up with innovative solutions
Your business targets should be accomplished without compromising on the user’s desires and the one who makes way through all odds will be the winner in the UX world. Inculcate a design thinking in your team that actually balances both the things subtly and efficiently enough that the outcome is always positive. Here is a short diagram that explains the crux of this point.
4.Know your users and Adopt UCD – The User-Centred Design Process
To come up with a successful design that offers amazing user experience, you have to test your ideas against real users and scale your project model as per user’s preferences and interests change over time. Before you even start working on a UX project, you should clearly know the limitations, needs, interests and behavior of the visitors that frequent your site. While the ideal UCD process is not just restricted to designing painless interfaces and using robust technology, it also involves rigorous research and analysis of the niche your website is going to target.
One way to do this is by encouraging real feedbacks from your existing customers and then fixing their pain points as a way of learning while continuously refining processes for a seamless user experience. You can also go through 12 Amazing UI design patterns unleashed from industry popular apps to know some interesting UI patterns that are in trend and are used by businesses worldwide.
5.Remove Waste : Leave everything that is not used in the final design of the website so as to concentrate on the experience rather than the paperwork
As per Lean UX approach, it is necessary to remove all the clutter from the design process by weeding out stuff that is not meant to be used directly in the final website. Rather than the unnecessary documentation, focus on the actual experience being delivered by removing waste from the overall design process. Here are quick tips to do this efficiently.
- Draw simple sketches using pen and pad to visualize your design with isolated UI elements that outline high-level flows like how to get from A to B, what screens are necessary.
- Bounce ideas off to co-workers and gain feedback on the layouts.
- Render feasible graphics that naturally fit-in to the theme of your website
- Don’t spend too much time on Wireframes as they turn the agile development process to waterfall. Strike the perfect balance between prototypes and wireframes to visualize details & user interactions.
6.Create MVP – Use resources & time wisely by trying Lightweight and Fast Actions to give right business direction to your project
There’s no need to complete a painting only to find that you’ve sketched a wrong portrait. The same applies to UX Strategy as well. Obviously, no one is going to pay you for an online presence that fails to prove its worth. So, the team, as a whole should attempt to complete the project in the shortest duration by building MVP products and launching the initial product for rigorous testing because the more you test, the earlier you can give business direction to your project in terms of revenue and predict the returns on your investment.
What exactly is an MVP – MVP is basically a product that includes only the essential features that makes it feasible enough to ship/present it to customers or at least some fans with whom you share a good repo and in the process, you can collect feedback to give your business a kickstart.
In the context of web marketing, listed below are the things that you should keep in mind while building an MVP
a) Don’t forget the “Minimal” in MVP
b) Plan an MVP strategy that focuses on getting the product to market in least possible time.
c) Create a landing page to validate your value proposition, product-solution fit, sales pitches and even the pricing of your products/services you offer to your customers. But wait; don’t just focus on selling rather than delivering value. Strike a perfect balance.
d) Make your landing page a marketing instrument by setting up a Google Adword campaign to drive traffic. Allocate a decent budget to your PPC campaign.
e)If you’re an ecommerce site, try Flinstoning – Putting up a storefront that looks like a real working product. The best example of this is Zappos, the biggest online retailer of shoes fetching more than $1 billion annual sales. Lean Start-up founder Eric Ries in his book described about the Zappos founder on how he was able to do it. Below I have attached a screenshot to explain you better.
Wrap-Up: 11 Important Principles of Lean UX to remind yourself before starting to work on UI development projects -:
Here I’m sharing 11 important principles of Lean UX which every UI developer must know before heading to projects and final deployment.
- Listen to your customers
- Assess performance based on outcomes: Adopt an iterative strategy and attempt to continuously refine your UX model based on the outcomes.
- List out all the “extremely necessary features” with some “nice-to-have features” that you would like to include in your website layout
- Test before you implement- Before you proceed with the implementation of UI, try to determine the impact – whether it is interesting enough that people will engage, whether it solves problems of the visitors etc.
- Use tools that are critical to designing your website
- Learn how a Minimum Viable Product affects your UX decisions
- Use A/B testing in conjunction with best UX practices to decide between two final designs.
- Speed up your web development process without sacrificing quality
- Figure out if people will buy your product before you build it
- Learn which research methods are best for early validation
- Understand common pain points of users & avoid them in your layout in order to build a more compelling product
I hope you’ve enjoyed the article and now you know how the best UX teams are implementing Lean UX rightly along with a cutting-edge design strategy. If you need help, you can contact our experienced team of UX professionals or comment below to share your thoughts.