Lean UX: The UX you wish you were doing

By Tim Caynes 02 Mar 2011

Jeff Gothelf, Director of UX at TheLadders.com, has a great proposition for what he is calling ‘Lean UX’, which reminds us what’s great about user experience design and how, potentially, we’ve over-specified it.

His central proposition is that it’s about time we got back to looking at experiences, rather than deliverables. Deliverables help us build commodities and describe solutions and actually, they can be pretty handy to work backwards from when we’re selling into a client.

The trouble is, deliverables can also define our outcomes and we often simply work towards those outcomes, filling in the boxes as we go. I can do that. I can do that on my own, in a dark room. And then I can ask users whether it’s any good. But really, we’re missing the experience design opportunity – to get those users at the heart of the design process.

All Jeff is really advocating is that we stop for a moment and remember what user experience design is about – solving problems. You don’t solve a problem by simply picking the right deliverable. You solve a problem by understanding the problem, engaging with the user and having a conversation.

Jeff’s method includes quick conceptualisation, early collaboration and a distinctly unselfish approach to design success, but what keeps it simple is that he doesn’t focus on artefacts, documents, or whether you want it in Visio or Axure. Because that’s not the point. It’s about:

  • Control: giving it up isn’t giving it away, you’re still the ‘keeper of the vision’
  • Momentum: keeping everyone engaged and motivated
  • Quality: not compromising on finding the solution
  • Feasibility: keeping an eye on implementation (but not the documentation!)
  • Filling the blanks: the more you talk, the more you see

To quote one of the quotes he quoted, “Speed first. Aesthetics second” – Jason Fried of 37signals.com.

I’m paraphrasing here, so to get the full story, check out Jeff’s presentation.
Lean UX: Getting out of the deliverables business

View more presentations from Jeff Gothelf

If you want to hear him talk about Lean UX in person, he’s at a number of speaking events this year, including the IA Summit in Denver, but I should probably mention that there’s also a scintillating discussion of the value of thought in experience design happening at exactly the same time, so if his session is full, perhaps you could consider that one instead.

 

What do you think?