THINK, MAKE, CHECK…it is that simple and it is profoundly effective…great user experience can be achieved at start-up speed!
I recently attended a LUXi, the Lean User Experience Intensive facilitated by Lane Halley & Josh Seiden of LUXr. The 2-day, hands-on, workshop is designed to teach entrepreneurs how they can achieve “predictable, high-quality, high-velocity user experience outcomes” using Lean UX Principals and I am really excited to share what I learned.
The traditional user experience process is normally long and expensive and that makes it challenging for startups to get products to market fast, and can be the difference between success (great user adoption) and failure.
The event was extremely well run and the attendees were divided into teams of 3. We were then walked through and practiced a series of activities, each one building on the previous one, that supported one complete Lean UX Cycle: THINK, MAKE, CHECK (click on image to enlarge).
Step by step process of the Lean UX Cycle
- Step 1 – Write down the problem (this exercise helps with establishing focus)
I had the privilege of working with Keka Marzagão & Billy Tobon on a hypothetical “new start-up” in the health food industry. Each of us was directed to write down the “problems” as we perceive them…one problem per sticky note. Then, as a team, we reviewed everyone’s sticky notes and decided what problems are worth solving.
Our first goal was to determine the problem our company will solve. We each brainstormed for 5 minutes identifying different problems in the health food industry and then collectively reviewed everyone’s ideas and settled on the following: “the reason a lot of people don’t eat healthy is because they don’t have time to cook”.
What I learned: I discovered that this method of brainstorming was extremely effective. It ensures that everyone’s individual thoughts will get seen and heard. I find that, in group brainstorming sessions, oftentimes the people who are less outgoing never get a chance to present their ideas.
Step 2 – Create a Hypothesis
Once you decide on a problem you are going to solve, the next step is to create a Hypothesis by framing it into the following sentence structure:Person type X has problem Y that can be solved by solution Z and measured by metric Q
This was the hypothesis we came up with: “We believe that busy people have the desire/need to eat healthy prepared home cooked meals but they can’t have the time to patience to do it”
Step 3 – Create a Persona
A persona is a narrative that describes the person your product will be used by. A good persona will include information like: behavior patterns, goals, needs, attitudes, beliefs, workflow, skills, and environment. You can use this amazing persona cheat sheet prepared by LUXr.
What I learned: Creating a persona forced us to really think about who our customer is and later, when we went to interview people, it was easier to visually identify them because we knew exactly what we were looking for.
- Step 1 – Start to think about solutions
Using the hypothesis and the persona, we started exploring the ideas with visual thinking and developing a shared understanding, which helped us move from the abstract to the specific solutions.
We each drew 6 ideas on a piece of paper and, during the group discussion, we were encouraged to provide feedback in the following language:When Explaining an idea: “this idea solves the following problem for the following person in the following way”When providing critique: “I don’t see how this solves the problem X”
- Step 2 – Establish a census on the best solution to pursue and create an artifact that you can show to users.
We decided that a web application would be the most effective first step and since, in our minds, trust might be the biggest problem in adoption, we decided to create very colorful design that showcases our chef’s photos, ratings, and testimonials. Also important was to showcase the photos of the foods and the ingredients that were used.
Below is my team’s finished prototype designed by Keka:
The final step of the process is to validate your ideas by getting out of the building and talking, in person if possible, with living, breathing customers to determine the validity of your assumptions.
We were shown techniques for interviewing people and asking open ended questions. Our team then went out into Union Square to interview potential customers.
What I learned: Through the interview process, I discovered that effective user interviewing is a skill that needs to be mastered and practiced ahead of time. I found it difficult to extract information from the user without leading them. I suggest that you read Lane’s slideshare presentation, I’m out of the building now what, where she covers how & where you can find users to talk to, offering tips for effective user interviews, and much more!
Learning from Others
Another great aspect of the event was the Show & Tell, where all of the teams shared their work and experiences. It was enlightening and empowering to see the different approaches and issues that people came up with and learn from one another. It was amazing to see the Lean UX process at work and see how quickly ideas can be validated
Tips for using these techniques in your own work
Here are some words of wisdom from Lane:
In your own work, you will use these techniques in a way that is appropriate for you. You may choose do these activities for longer periods, or with gaps of hours or days in between. You may choose different collaborators from your team for different activities. You may skip some of these activities or add some of your own. The important thing is that your entire team establishes a SHARED PROBLEM STATEMENT (what is our hypothesis? What result are we trying to accomplish? For whom?), and that you then work towards the MOST LIGHTWEIGHT thing you can make to validate that hypothesis. ~ Lane Halley
I will not ever build a feature or a product without going through this process first! Thank you Lane & Josh!