This week I attended the UX Immersion 2012 conference. Jeff Gothelf’s featured talk looked at Lean UX and how he used it at The Ladders. Here are my notes:
On Lean UX
- When converting from Waterfall Development to Lean UX, a great place to start is to look for stories of failure. You learn what didn’t work.
- Lean UX doesn’t seek to answer the question “can we build this?”, but instead asks “should we build this?”.
- Usability testing with three users helps you find the boulders, not every little flaw. Subsequent iterations can find problems in the smaller details.
- Style guides and pattern libraries let you work faster. You have all the tools you need to solve problems. If it has pixels, it goes in the library.
- Live style guides is a concept in which the HTML markup and CSS is attached to the product in a way that a change to the style guide changes the product.
Learnings From the Agile Transformation at The Ladders
- UX as a shared services didn’t work because it divided people’s focus.
- You have to put UX designers on a dedicated team to build camaraderie, focus, and trust.
- If a UX designer must be split across two teams, make sure they have a primary team so they can prioritize work appropriately.
- Putting a UX designer on more than two teams is a recipe for failure.
- Solve the problem together, not in silos. Co-creation builds understanding.
- Sketch together as a team, then everyone “owns” the solution.
- The Ladders had many iterations on what was the right way to manage the task wall. We learned that if you cram your entire functional spec onto a board, it’s not agile.
What Lean UX Means for Designers
- No one gets into user experience to create documents. They want to make things.
- In fast-paced agile environments the traditional UX approach becomes a bottle neck. We need to use new tools to achieve our goals.
- Create the lowest fidelity document possible to explain and validate whether the concept in your head is the right thing to do.
- Don’t be afraid to sketch. All you need is a circle, a rectangle, and a triangle. This covers every interface out there.
- Get the experience out there, not the design document. Get it in the wild to validate the concept.
- You’ll never solve a problem with a design document, you solve them with software.
- Unless you are building the product for yourself, your design is just a hypothesis.
- Work in a tight integration with the rest of your product team. Designers can’t hide behind their monitors any more.
- Pair up — Put designers together with developers when problem solving and brainstorming.
- Pairing up also helps you build an understanding of each other’s work and limitations.
Jeff Gothelf is the author of a forthcoming book on Lean UX. You can follow him on Twitter at @jboogie