I attended a talk a while ago by Janice Fraser called, "Kill Your Darlings." It was at a LeanLA Meetup. The full slides are at the bottom of this post, and below are my takeaways from the presentation. Janice was really fun and showed she has a lot of great experience helping start-ups really focus on getting UX right from a lean angle.
Janice is the founder of Adaptive Path, a product design firm. She coined the terms "blog" and "AJAX" and started the field of lean UI design.
Her main claim is that a start-up is like a garden, not a cute bunny. You have to remove weeds and be ready to replant it, not nurture it like a pet.
She mentioned the main heroes of the lean movement: Eric Ries and Steve Blank (and my friend Patrick, the organizer of the event, is quite its hero too). Lean encompasses customer development (make products people actually want) with agile development (incremental releases).
She went through a great example of split testing of home page conversions and how a start-up learned some non-intuitive lessons of how to significantly boost conversions with small changes. Even when you feel strongly about something, it still pays to do experiments.
Lean also refers to the Toyota Production System, which emphasizes reducing inventory, risk, and waste. In this context, waste is time spent between making a decision and knowing if it works. In order to reduce waste, she recommends following three types of cycles:
- Build, Measure, Learn
- Think, Make, Check
- Prove, Improve. Prove what you know by testing. Improve on your software with what you learned.
She also went through certain main facets of lean UX design:
- Cross functional teams. No one "owner" of a project who has final responsibility. Joint responsibility.
- Principle-driven process
- Rituals, wireframe checks. Ask someone in a stand-up meeting: 1. Is this an accurate reflection of the system? 2. What here is hard? 3. What alternatives are there? 4. Is it worth the effort?
- Wireframe using Omnigraffle, Balsamiq, etc.
- Organize every iteration around a user quote.
- Flair and focus, generative and decisive, brainstorm and decide.
- Develop deep sense of empathy for the user. Have them tell you a story.
Finally, she referenced several texts she recommends: