This is the first chapter of our Complete Guide to Lean UX. First up, how to apply to Lean UX principles
Lean UX unites product development, design and business in a methodology that promotes continued development, constant iteration and validation.
By building, measuring and learning, designers are able to get closer to great user experiences sooner rather than later.
Lean UX techniques can be applied to enhance a traditional UX process and give it the boost it needs. These techniques help get valuable input from customers so you can build products that they’ll love.
In this post, Justinmind will show you how you can apply the Lean UX methodology in your flow so that you can reduce the time it takes to get your product to market.
The Lean UX methodology in a nutshell
We touched on the all things Lean in our Complete Guide to Lean UX, but essentially it is a methodology designers, product owners, developers and entrepreneurs can use to be more successful when building products.
They are able to do this by starting small. Instead of designing an entire product with all its features, with Lean UX you create what’s known as an MVP. You iterate and build upon that incrementally.
You create your MVP, often before writing a word of code, using a variety of different methods – a video, a landing page, a newsletter. You name it. As long as you create something that’s viable and your customers are willing to pay for it it’s an MVP.
This methodology is popular and has helped so many businesses and teams because it can help you prevent any major setbacks that could have been avoided with a few assumptions, a hypothesis or two and constant testing.
Actions speak louder than words so here is how you can apply the Lean UX methodology to your own UX process.
How to apply the Lean UX methodology
Step one: discovery, research and thinking
Lean UX starts with research and discovery, also known as the think stage. It’s at this point pertinent questions start to arise such as:
- Who are we designing for?
- What are we designing?
- How do we create our vision?
By defining the problem at hand, you’ll be able to move forward quicker. You’ll need to have knowledge of the business goals and user problems during this stage, too. Then you can expect to have a number of assumptions, ready to transform into hypotheses.
There are a lot of products out in the world already and it’s likely yours is going to be competing with others in the same space.
This is where you should start to carry out a competitor analysis. A competitor analysis can help you to understand:
- Opportunities in the market
- Engagement levels in your niche
- Product fit in the market
- Usability issues
Step two: Create your wireframe
After you’ve got a handle on who you’re designing for, why you’re designing for them and the space that you’re going to be competing in, it’s time to move on to making a wireframe.
Don’t fret. Wireframes are easy to whip up and there are many ways you can approach making a wireframe. One way is to simply grab your nearest pen and paper and start scribbling.
There are other methods, such as Justinmind, which get the job done better.
At this point, you don’t want to create your product in its entirety. That isn’t the point of Lean UX. You want just enough design. And remember, wireframes are meant to be structural so avoid getting into a needless discussion about aesthetics at this stage. You’ll only waste time. So what should it include? Your wireframe should include:
- The copy
- Call to action buttons
- Navigation elements
The benefit of creating a wireframe, or multiple wireframes, is that they give you plenty of room to explore different solutions to any number of problems.
Your wireframe will help you get to grips with the workflow, use cases, sitemap and any major interactions that your product has.
Think of your wireframe as your first draft. The first draft of anything is rarely ever brilliant. Although, with a few tweaks your wireframe can be made into something successful. First, you need patience.
Some tools that you might explore or use when creating a wireframe include:
- HTML and CSS
- Sketches on paper
- Powerpoint or Keynote (if you’re super bootstrapped)
Step three: Validate early and often
Validation is important in Lean UX methodology. If you’re incorporating a Lean UX process into how you work, print out the words “validate early and often” and stick them up somewhere.
You can think of validation as the fuel which propels your idea through Lean UX. Validation helps you to uncover whether or not your idea is any good and, vitally, whether people will buy it.
How can you validate early and often? First, you’ll need a hypothesis which you can create from the assumptions you made earlier. In our Complete Guide to Lean UX, we spoke about assumptions and validations.
Laura Klein in Lean UX for Startups breaks down validation into 3 parts:
- Validating the problem
- Validating the market
- Validating the product
Basically, you want to ensure that your problem is a real problem that people have. You will then need to narrow down those people to the type of people who want their problem solved that they’ll buy your product.
Validating your product is slightly more difficult because your product still might not be the solution for those people you discovered through earlier validation. That’s why iterating is so important in Lean UX because it helps you to incrementally improve and build upon new information.
Essentially, you’ll know that your product is validated when a big portion of your target market coughs up the dough.
What does validation look like?
Validating can take many forms but here are some things you can do to help validate your product:
- Landing pages
- Contextual inquiries
You need activation and acquisition data to understand whether your idea has been validated. A well-crafted landing page, like the one above, uses persuasive copy and a big bold button for people to click. Likewise, a prototype can be designed to achieve the same result.
By acquiring the user through advertising and activating them through clicking your call-to-action button you can see if your idea has been validated.
You can use a site like Unbounce to create your own landing page and track user behavior.
Contextual inquiries or field studies are a way to gather relevant information about your target users. You can use this information to understand how much of a need there is for your solution by speaking with people.
Step four: Prototyping your solution
Wireframes are cheap, easy to create and don’t require a lot of effort. The throwaway nature of wireframes makes them a great method for exploring ideas. But after you’ve finished exploring, it’s time to move onto the next stage: prototyping.
Prototyping is usually more labor intensive than creating a simple wireframe. Because of that, you want to make sure that you and your team have all decided in agreement to move to the next stage in the process.
A prototype will give you the opportunity to create a near real-life working model of the solutions you proposed in your research and discovery phase and which became more realized in the wireframing stage.
Prototyping is exciting because your idea really starts to come to life. Stakeholders and other non-technical players in the team can also get excited during this stage because prototypes are more visual, representing the final product more closely.
During the prototyping stage, you’ll most likely have some visual design elements agreed upon, you’ll create some icons and perhaps even a style guide. Mockups also play a big role in the prototyping stage, especially when it comes to giving a UX presentation.
The benefit of creating a prototype is that you’ll have a better understanding of what your final product will look like. It’s also better to test on real users who won’t be encumbered by the stark design of a wireframe.
Step five: Test your users and analyze the results
User testing is your opportunity to get some real actionable data to improve and tweak your product.
It’s important not to test on any old Joe Bloggs. Find your user. Meet your customers. It’s better to talk to the real people who will be interacting and using your product because it’s them who you have to convince to hand over their cash.
Talking to your customers is probably one of the best things you can do and something that many companies fail to do. Starting that conversation can lead you to success much sooner than you might realize.
There’s also A/B testing, Google Analytics and surveys that can all be used to get data from your users.
An A/B test can give you the metrics you need to make a decision about your product. For example, if you’ve got two prototypes and you can’t decide which one is better, let your users decide and go with that. A/B testing is how you can understand the impact your product changes have on user behavior.
Use Google Analytics to understand critical information about your users. Gain insight into their behavior and segment them into groups. When you use analytics, you’ll be able to fine tune your product. You can also get real-time reporting which is perfect if you want direct feedback on any campaigns you’re running.
If your product isn’t a website, you’ll need specialized software for tracking your product metrics like Amplitude.
Surveys, like the ones created with Typeform, can be used to gather both quantitative and qualitative information from your users. You can ask a variety of closed and open field question to drill down into what your users really think about your product.
Step six: Iterate
Now we’re at the end of the Lean UX methodology but the fun doesn’t end here, folks. You’re smarter now. You’ve gained valuable insight into your users and your product. You’ve understood what is working and what needs to be improved.
Because this methodology is cyclical, that means you go right back to the beginning and start all over again.
With this new information, you can begin to think of the modification that you need to make or any vital updates that are pertinent. Make a plan and move onto the next cycle.
How to apply Lean UX methodology – conclusion
When you combine an eager team that’s ready to create with a framework that encourages experimentation and failure, you have a recipe for successful product development.
With these 6 easy steps to apply the Lean methodology, it won’t be long before you’re releasing products that people want in a quick and efficient way.
Continue reading the Complete Guide to Lean UX
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