User Experience Design

Full Guide for Creating a User-centric and Lean UX Design Process

What exactly makes up a user-centric and lean UX design process?

user-centric design process

Due to its importance in improving conversions on websites and mobile applications, many developers today put user experience (UX) design as a primary focus.

In theory, a UX design is a process of creating seamless and simplified interactions for app and/or website users. In simple terms, it makes it easy for users to navigate through your digital branding hubs.

While there are many steps involved in developing a user-centric UX design, the aim of lean UX is to help developers scale fast – developing versions of an interface that get better with each iteration.

Happy users lead to a number of benefits for app and website owners, among which include:

  • Increased user satisfaction. When a product is designed with the user in mind, they are more likely to be satisfied with it. This is because the product meets their needs and wants, which is what user-centric design is all about.
  • Improved usability. The user-centric design also leads to improved usability, as the product is more likely to be intuitive and easy to use. This is because the team focuses on making sure that the user’s needs are taken into account during the design process.
  • Increased adoption rates. A well-designed product that meets the needs of the user will often see increased adoption rates. This is because people are more likely to want to use something that has been designed with them in mind.
  • Reduced development costs. Focusing on the user during the design process can also help to reduce development costs. This is because it allows for earlier identification of potential problems and issues, which can then be fixed before development begins.
  • Increased ROI. In addition, using a user-centric design process can lead to increased ROI for your product. This is because a well-designed product that meets the needs of the user is more likely to be successful.

The lean UX design process

Lean UX design, as the Interaction Design Foundation defines it, is a process that puts less focus on deliverables and puts it rather on obtaining feedback from users as early as possible.

It applies the principles of Lean project delivery which allows developers and designers to create iterations of prototypes based on direct user feedback while the design is being built. This allows for a more fluid approach as opposed to Agile which only gathers feedback after the “final” product is released to the public.

From a high-level perspective, this approach to UX design and development involves the development of assumptions or hypotheses on which improvements are staked on. It’s much like your elementary school lesson on the scientific method:

  • You develop a problem statement;
  • formulate a hypothesis with a presumed result of your solution;
  • implement the said solution, and;
  • get feedback to verify if your hypothesis is valid.

Some benefits of adopting a Lean UX design process include:

  • Work fast and spend less. As it cuts down financial and time resources from the research, development, and implementation stages. This then allows you to redirect resources to projects that are likely to succeed while avoiding costly mistakes from a lack of user insight.
  • Improves customer satisfaction. Because this approach involves gathering user feedback in the entire design process, you are more likely to develop a product that customers love with it. This fosters stronger trust between your business and customers, ultimately leading to better conversions and brand loyalty.
  • Better and faster delivery of products. Time is of the essence in development; timely delivery but not at the cost of quality is and should be the only standard in the practice. With Lean UX design’s focus on customer feedback, development companies can quickly identify errors and fix them as soon as they’re spotted.
  • Encourages businesses to experiment. Keeping up with evolving technologies requires you to be quick on your feet with experimentation. Through a Lean UX design process, this agility with experimentation is easily practiced. Apart from speed, it also allows you to gain better insights into which solutions work best in terms of meeting your customers’ needs.
  • Enables greater collaboration. Because Lean UX design teams demand the involvement of experts from different fields, interdepartmental collaboration is naturally improved. At any one time, a Lean UX design team will have multiple engineers, researchers, copywriters, designers, and others working on one project. This tears down redundancies and hurdles to project delivery better than if the project were handled by engineers alone.
  • Develop better customer insights. Finally, a Lean UX design process doesn’t just leave you with an understanding of the current project at hand. Because of the continuous collection of data and feedback, you are also constantly exposed to insights about your customer. Formerly undiscovered knowledge about their preferences and behavior starts coming to light and you can use the new information to develop smarter, more effective solutions in the future.

Components of a Lean UX design process of your own

As mentioned above, a Lean UX design process generally involves research, prototyping, and gathering feedback. But that’s just a high-level view of the entire process.

Below, we elaborate on these steps so that you can start adopting them into your UX design and development endeavors.

1. Conducting user research.

The first step in the Lean user-centered design process is user research. During this step, a team of experts is gathered and tasked to learn about your intended user’s wants, needs, and behavior.

They will conduct various investigations which will include one or more data collection methods like surveys, focused group discussions, app or website evaluations, and others. It will also involve the use of data analysis tools like Google Analytics to help give researchers and designers accurate insights into how your end-users are expected to interact with your apps and/or websites.

The team then uses this information to create user personas, which are fictional representations of the target user.

2. Writing user personas and stories.

After gathering information about the user, the researchers will then begin collaborating with engineers and designers to write user stories and personas.

User personas, in a nutshell, are fictional representations of your end-user. These are based on the information gathered during the user research phase. These stories help the team stay focused on the needs of the user throughout the design process.

User stories, on the other hand, are short descriptions of a feature or functionality from the perspective of an end user. They provide insight into how a user might interact with a particular feature and ensure that the UX is consistent throughout all aspects of the product.

FURTHER READING: 7 User Story Examples to Guide Your Fintech Mobile App’s UX

3. Designing and testing prototypes.

Next up is designing prototypes. This step is where the design and engineering teams develop a minimum viable product (MVP) or prototype that is exposed to users for testing.

This is where the process circles back to gathering feedback only that, in this stage, it involves an initial iteration of your app or website product they can interact with. Exposing this initial product to users then allows the team to get feedback on how well or badly your prototype meets your end-user’s needs.

This step can be repeated as many times as needed to get the best version of your products as possible as experimentation and iteration are encouraged by Lean UX design. The feedback that is accumulated over time is then used to build towards the final product that will be published and promoted to a wider audience of users.

Some products will have as little as three iterations before it’s ready for the final adjustments, while others will require more than ten. But remember that, no matter how many iterations you need to do, the priority is the satisfaction of the user.

If this goal is not met, then iterate, iterate, and yes, iterate again.

This may sound like the most tedious step of all, but the rewards that come with them are well worth it. Work smart and accurately based on what your data insights tell you, and you will never release a bad product.

Key takeaways

User-centric and Lean UX design is essential when it comes to developing useful and effective app and website products. This is because it ensures that the user is taken into account during the design process, which can lead to a better user experience overall.

On top of these three steps, remember that the Lean UX design also involves soft skills such as:

  • Communication. With and among departments and users is critical to developing insights that lead to smarter product decisions. This also helps teams address problems and act on solutions quickly. Without proper communication skills, even a Lean UX design will face project delays.
  • Critical thinking. Your ability to police and question the quality of your output will push you to innovate your products. While it’s easy and comfortable to stay within the lines of what is “standard” or “best practices”, often, this way of thinking limits your ability to provide groundbreaking solutions for customers.
  • Empathy. Among the many arms of the development field, UX design is perhaps the most demanding of empathy. Without this ability to sympathize with customers, a UX design project can’t be brought to completion as the end goal of every project is to satisfy the end user.

Are you currently using a Lean UX design process in your organization? If yes, what are your best learnings from them? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. We always welcome a healthy exchange of ideas.

For more tips on how to scale your UX design and development processes, make sure to subscribe to the Propelrr newsletter to get them straight into your inbox.

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