If you are a part of a cross-functional product development team, then you’re probably always looking for ways to work as optimally as possible. And not just for the sake of making your life easier.
The competition in the digital product development space is so fierce that, if you want to survive, you simply need to deliver better products than anyone else faster and maybe even at lower cost.
This is why so many startup companies running agile development projects focus on collaboration and shared understanding of what they’re building and why so they can reduce the documentation cruft, minimize waste, get early user feedback, and iterate quickly.
When you first start working in this kind of an environment as a UX designer, it can be a bit difficult to adjust because you are changing the way you structure your workflow. But this is a change well worth making. Once you experience the benefits of working collaboratively in an agile team, you’ll never wish to go back to your old ways.
As Jeff Gothelf, author of Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams
said, “lean UX is the evolution of product design and team collaboration.”
The lean UX process
The lean UX is all about getting user feedback as early in the process as possible and then using it to inform product iterations. The end goal is to enable your team to ship the final product that delivers value and offers meaningful user experience.
Strong focus on the end-user experience, after all, is what differentiates lean UX from other methods. It’s less about producing typical UX deliverables and more about working collaboratively towards a user-centered solution.
To make this process possible, a design team that practices lean UX always starts with a problem and then they brainstorm solutions and test thoroughly. The key here is in quick testing cycles that provide insight into what is working and what isn’t.
In short, lean UX process is an iterative cycle that looks something like this:
_Concept → Prototype → Validate internally → Test with real users → Learn from user behavior → Iterate _
Benefits of going lean
Lean UX enables teams to go through design phases much faster, and more importantly, to work smarter. Time saving is also a huge factor here, which means there is minimum resource waste.
The early feedback from user research and testing means better design/product decisions all around. This approach favors continuous experimentation and raw data over massive document outputs. Which leads us to the next topic - prototypes as a form of documentation.
Prototyping in Lean UX
Product teams in traditional enterprise environments are drowning in documentation, both internal and client-facing. It’s eating up so much of their time and consequently inflating the cost of UX design.
In a lean UX environment, documentation is the result of the design process, not the goal in and of itself.
Actually, a lot of the documentation can be eliminated by building and testing prototypes.
The lean UX lets you go straight to the production to build a prototype that both the team and users can test and provide practical feedback. This helps your team learn how to improve and then iterate it to reach the final product.
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Prototypes are also great for capturing all the UI elements your development team will later build, including the interactions, the flow, user onboarding, etc.
They play an important role in lean UX, serving as a form of documentation and communicating the design effectively at different stages of the product development process.
The lean UX is an iterative, circular process, which is entirely different from cascade methodologies. It gives improved results and enables your team to work collaboratively and reach product goals in a much shorter time frame, unlocking tremendous value for your customers.