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UX for Lean Startups Paperback – 6 Jun 2013
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About the Author
Laura Klein has spent 15 years as an engineer and designer. Her goal is to help lean startups learn more about their customers so that they can build better products faster. Her popular design blog, Users Know, teaches product owners exactly what they need to know to do just enough research and design.
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The introduction of the book talked about what Lean UX is and isn’t. It was compared to Agile Design and User-Centered Design, which meant nothing to me, to be honest. The actual definition was irrelevant to why I was reading this book - I care more about the practice and benefits of Lean UX. But the rest of the book got into the meat of that.
Lean UX can be summarized into 3 principles:
1. Do research. Ask questions, make hypotheses.
2. Validate. Answer questions, test hypotheses.
3. Iterate. Take answers and data, and then make adjustments.
Research is extremely important not just because it tells you whether your product or service is viable, but because it saves you time and money. The key to Lean UX is doing research and avoiding problems before they come up. Don't waste your resources.
"Lean UX isn’t about adding features to a product, it’s about figuring out which metrics drive a business.”
The author talked about the 2 different kinds of research you can do: quantitative and qualitative. "Quantitative research tells you what your problem is. Qualitative research tells you why you have that problem."
Quantitative research is about getting statistically significant data about a potential feature or workflow - like A/B testing. Qualitative research is about listening to what the user has to say. You have to pay attention to what they do and how they use your product. Looking over someone's shoulder while they use your product is a great way to do user research.
The best way to figure out if you product is any good is to hand your product over to the people and observe how they use it. The worst way is to ask people if they would use it. The main reasons for this are because we as consumers don't really know what we want and our dollars speak louder than our words.
Another thing I liked from this book was this set of questions we should ask when determining if a landing page has good UX:
1. What does the user think this product does?
2. Who does the user think the product is for?
3. Can the user figure out how to get the product?
It seems simple, but those questions are golden. I think they apply not just to UX designers and marketers, but also to authors, video producers, and a whole slew of other people. Think about The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman. Make sure you can answer these questions about yourself as a professional.
Another important aspect of UX design is making sure that you're starting with problems, not solutions. Bad starting point = "Let's add commenting functionality to the product page!" Good starting point = "Users aren't able to communicate with each other, which affects their engagement with the product."
All in all, good book. This is extremely accessible to lay people and most valuable to anyone working in the startup realm (especially marketers and business dev folks). If you're already a UX designer or you've read a fair amount of stuff on UX, you probably won't find this novel at all.
Laura shows you how to validate hypotheses with UX tools like user research. She goes into detail about the different user research methods out there and when to use them.
I’m glad Laura also explains an MVP. Contrary to popular belief, an MVP is not the s***tiest version of your product you can ship. An MVP is the smallest thing you can build to validate or invalidate a hypothesis.
Laura uses funny stories and examples to illustrate her points. I appreciate her analogy “fixating on the cupholders.” Fixating on the cupholders is like building a car that doesn’t have any brakes, yet focusing on how to design the cup holders. This analogy refers to when teams channel time and money into building the wrong things, such as building low priority features.
Laura talks about fixating on cupholders in the context of startups, but I’ve seen this happen outside of startups.
I also appreciate Laura’s approach to new product ideas. Laura says, don’t try to come up with brilliant product ideas out of thin air. Instead, think about every product as a solution to somebody’s problem.
This book is packed with great stuff for entrepreneurs and UX designers. Do yourself a favor and read it. :)
As an engineer I also used to take the mindset that only the consumer research folks in the company could talk to customers. Now I try and talk to 3 a week. Ideas are rarely the issue which is the focus of many other books.
I came out of too many brainstorming sessions thinking what a waste of time. I replaced those with the alignment meetings mentioned in this book.
I think of the design and development process very differently now, after reading this. Especially in regards to metrics, and analytics, and deciding what i need to measure to determine my design decisions have actually improved my app. As I designers, I need to explain why ive changed the design and help show that its "better" than it was before and that people like it more. It also gave me tons of ideas how to test out new designs to see if they are truly better and result in more engagement. It relaly de-mystified many concepts for me. Its helped me ground all my decisions in reality and think more clearly about how to make design, schedule, and make requirements decisions.
Its really useful for PMs, designers, and developers because all the concepts can be applied to all these roles in different ways. I can see the changes throughout my team after we all read this. So, I highly recommend it.