The Revolution in UX Design

Learn more about the tech that is changing the design process everywhere

The Revolution in UX Design

In the last couple of years, a revolution has taken place in the relationship between customers and products, and this is nowhere more evident than website design. Driven in part by the demands of mobile technology, consumers have gravitated to less cluttered websites and designers have responded by rethinking the entire approach to customer interaction.

This new approach is called UX, for “User eXperience”. There are two different branches of the UX design philosophy: Lean UX and Agile UX. They have similarities and differences, and can actually complement each other when utilized correctly. Here is an overview of them both, their strengths, and how they can work together to revolutionize design processes across the internet and many other disciplines.

Lean UX Methods

The core philosophies of Lean UX are to trim every bit of excess or “waste”, whether it’s unused design elements on a webpage or wasted time in the design process itself, eliminate unnecessary risks, and aim toward maximum value for customers. It is an evolution of the Lean Production Method, pioneered by Japanese companies such as Toyota. It also draws heavily on the principles of the industrial design mantra “less is more”. For example, a good UX UI designing company knows that oftentimes the simplest graphics and interfaces get the message across much better than a lot of extraneous “clutter” on a webpage, and it can design user interfaces, or UI, accordingly. This isn’t just limited to web pages, however: these ideas are applicable to any field where collaboration is necessary.

Another key feature of Lean UX design is the idea of getting the most basic working model of a product to market before trying to perfect it. The perfecting process is done after the launch instead of before, as in traditional models, and incorporates user/customer feedback in the process of making changes to the product, in a continuous cycle, slowly winding up with the best version of a product possible. This idea is called “minimum viable product” or MVP for short.

This collection of principles allows for efficient utilization of resources, especially for smaller companies, and has increasingly become the method of choice to get small companies’ initial products off the drawing boards and into their customers’ hands.

Agile UX Methods

Whereas Lean UX often focuses on products, Agile UX often focuses on software, and in fact its methods originated in the software design community – although like Lean UX, it isn’t limited solely to its arena of origin.

The core philosophy of Agile is flexibility: instead of planning everything out ahead of time, leaving little room for solving unexpected problems or changing courses, design is planned and accomplished in bursts. After each burst, or “interation” as they are sometimes called, the design is then evaluated, work re-planned and the product or software worked upon again, incorporating whatever changes were discovered to be needed in the evaluation stage. This approach centers on communication and allows for maximum collaboration with customers and the flexibility to incorporate dynamic change into the design process.

Applying Both Methods

Some companies have begun to use both Lean and Agile together. Both approaches focus on working with the customer, so they can overlap and complement each other when thought of as a Venn diagram, with the best practices in the center.

An example would be taking the iterative bursts and evaluation times of Agile and meshing them with the risk elimination and minimum viable product of Lean. This would allow for the initial design to be launched as soon as possible and the perfecting process to be handled by the team working in bursts, therefore giving the company the ability to produce a product that is flexible enough to be easy to change while still getting into customer’s hands quickly.

Customer interaction has changed considerably in the last decade, and design practices have changed along with them, sometimes leading the change and sometimes trailing behind. However, it can be argued that good design makes good business, so applying the principles and methods shown here can help to ensure that a company is working with the best UX design possible.

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Sasha McGregor
Sasha McGregor
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