I’ll admit it; I initially found this book a bit intimidating. Once it was sitting around my apartment it seemed a bit textbook-y, even though it was quite thin, and I imagined that once I started reading it, it wouldn’t be an entirely pleasant experience.
At the same time, I was curious. I’d worked in an Agile team earlier in the year. What was Lean UX and how could it help me get better in collaborating with colleagues in creating great digital products?
Well, my first impressions couldn’t have been more wrong. The book was an engaging read. I went through it in short bursts and by the end I felt invigorated by the experience and confident that I’d eventually read it again to absorb even more.
The book is divided into three sections. In Part I, the authors introduce the concept of Lean UX and outline the principles that are behind putting it into practice. In Part II, we’re taken on a tour of the Lean UX process, the step-by-step reality. Finally, in Part III, we learn about the organizational shifts involved in implementing a Lean UX approach.
So what’s Lean UX? We’re told in Chapter 1 that it’s “three things. It begins as a process change for designers and product teams. But it’s much more than that. It’s a culture change that lets us approach our work with humility; we acknowledge that our initial solution will probably be wrong and use many sources of insight to continuously improve our thinking. It’s also a way of organizing and managing software design and development teams to be more inclusive, collaborative and transparent.”
These themes reverberate through the book as the authors describe a new way of working.
One chapter I particularly enjoyed was Chapter 5, Minimum Viable Products and Prototypes. It’s all about advancing the learning process, by putting something in the hands of your potential audience early on in the development process. The following chapter gets into the details of soliciting feedback from users and is also full of useful insights.
This is the kind of book that has sentences that may startle you. Here are a few that struck me:
In Chapter 3, Driving Vision with Outcomes:
Our goal is not to create a deliverable or a feature; it’s to positively affect customer behavior or change in the world—to create an outcome.
In Chapter 5, Minimum Viable Products and Prototypes:
In digital product design, behavior trumps opinion.
In Chapter 8, Making Organizational Shifts:
Fall in love with the problem, not the solution
I recommend this book for people who already have some experience working in an Agile environment, whether as a manager or a team member. Although the authors provide definitions for Agile processes in Chapter 7, for someone with no experience with this way of working, the book might be too advanced.
My only complaint about the book is that the black and white photographs often used as illustrations are not adequately reproduced. They’re dark and low-contrast and as a result don’t add much to the book’s content.
That’s just a quibble. This book is a great overview of how to make digital products that excite users. I expect to be combing through it to deepen my learning very soon.
Lean UX (2nd Edition), by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden
Have you read Lean UX? Please feel free to share your comments below.