What not to do in lean UX research

By: Amreetha Vijayakumar
Date: September, 2014
File under: Articles

A lot of buzz seems to have been created around lean UX and it has not stopped with that. We have been receiving lot of interest to do lean UX research and that is a good indicator that it is gaining inroads.  The idea is to incorporate user feedback early on in the design cycle by exposing ideas, concepts, wireframes, and prototypes to users to seek their feedback and validate it.

That said, when I researched on do’s and don’ts of UX research, there were lot of interesting articles, definitions, principles about lean UX. Rarely did I come across an article outlining what we should avoid when doing lean style of UX research. Here is my top 4 (don’ts).

Don’t compromise on recruitment

It’s no brainer that with lean UX research, timelines are expected to be lean as well. When working towards a lean project timeline, there is definitely a tendency to cut corners with recruiting participants, which could compromise on the quality of research. If you have lean cycles planned ahead, it might be worth commencing recruitment well ahead to ensure you meet the desired specifications.  If employees in your organization are not a target user, then recruiting internal staff is not going to help.

Don’t use lean UX research to focus on multiple goals

In the zeal to incorporate lean UX research into design cycles, UX teams lean towards incorporating diverse goals into a single round of research. In short, testing all what you can in one iteration. In theory, I completely commend their efforts to test different ideas. However, user testing can be tricky and sometimes counterproductive when trying to achieve varied objectives. It will be best to prioritise and re-prioritise goals and distil it to top 2 or 3 to maximize quality of output.

Don’t analyse findings in silos

It would be best to make use of observers of the sessions as much as possible.  Observers should be encouraged to take notes of what they observed during sessions. This includes comments made by participants, what they did as opposed to drawing inferences. The day after testing should be spent in collaborative analysis between observers and researcher/s.

Don’t focus on delivering bulk reports

This is fundamental principle for lean UX philosophy. It would be best to adopt a lean reporting style in recording research outcomes and stick to research goals. While there are some hypotheses around not indulging in detailed reporting, based on past experience I always find keeping record of outcomes (mapped to goals) really useful.  It also gives continuity to research work and serves as a useful reference tool at any time during the course of the project tenure.

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