Jeff Gothelf, User Experience expert and co-author of Lean UX on his mission to change perceptions of UX and its value.
Although this is definitely starting to change towards a more positive view of UX design, in many companies UX designers are still seen as ‘the people who make the wireframes’. Their contribution and therefore their value is reduced to the delivery of the artifact as opposed to the actual success of the product experience. This is often due to deep organisational silos that don’t collaborate well. Lean UX is one way of changing this mindset.
Lean UX is a cross-functional approach to product development that seeks to establish a shared understanding between designers, engineers and product managers about the business problem being solved, the customers targeted and the value of the service being provided.
The team works closely together to determine the needs of their audience and discovers which product to build and how best to optimise and design it together. The incentive for the team is to achieve an outcome – a measurable change in customer behaviour (for example, to buy more stuff) – as opposed to an output, such as shipping features.
Lean UX enhances the value of design and designers and increases their role in the product discovery process. Designers often act as facilitators for many team meetings and are then tasked with taking the broad set of inputs and distilling them into a usable, delightful product workflow that the team and customers can react to. The design process, by its nature is iterative.
In other words, the best solution is rarely the first one. We design, we test and we learn. The Lean UX process mimics this approach but at a team level.
What’s missing here is strong use of business language to quantify the benefits of great design. All too often designers who are lucky enough to find themselves in the boardroom resort to “design-y” language to get their point across. UX 101, the basics, teaches us to “know your audience”. The same holds true when presenting our work. If we’re presenting to the CFO, what’s most important to her? How do we use language and terminology that resonates with that audience? The same holds true for CEOs, COOs and all other executives.
By engaging in a business conversation – especially one based on market data and insights as provided by Lean UX – we can make a much more effective case for investment in design.