The evolution of lean UX and design thinking

Paul Blake

22 April 2016

In a beautiful example of life imitating art, the user experience industry is one long iterative design process.

I like to think I’ve evolved too. In the past 20 years or so I’ve been webmaster, interaction designer, information architect, content editor, experience architect and design manager to name but a few.

I’ve learned a fair bit along the way and seen an amazing amount of change.

Paul Blake Conduct

For instance in the mid-nineties we thought nothing of developing two separate websites for clients – one optimised for Netscape and the other for Internet Explorer.

And let’s not revisit those splash screens which forced users to endure upwards of 30 seconds of indulgent animation before offering any content.

The great work done by Jeffrey Zeldman and others on web standards gradually took this pain away, and turned us all on to web accessibility and usability.

Over time we realised it was far more efficient to prototype and evaluate sites rather than fixing mistakes post launch.

Here we coalesced with the HCI practitioners, the ethnography and psychology folks and the ergonomics experts who had been quietly working away and wondering why we were so late to the party.

This is where user-centred design began to gain critical mass.

To begin with it was all very exciting. With Cooper’s ‘About Face’ and Donald Norman’s back catalogue lighting the way, we all sailed into uncharted territory, fixing design problems wherever we went.

Then, like a band developing a penchant for fifteen-minute solos, it all got a bit self-indulgent.

The job titles got crazier and the project teams got bigger. Deliverables veered toward weighty and highly decorative tomes rather than, heaven forbid, a real live product.

Thankfully that’s all changing. The seismic shift of Agile and a world where design thinking is becoming mainstream has in turn forced the user experience community to re-evaluate.

Meanwhile, out in the corporate world more and more people are also realising it’s about products not slide decks.

Here at Conduct we recommend our Rapid Design and Validation (RDV) framework for clients seeking an injection of lean UX and design thinking.

Simon Krambousanos ConductHQ

RDV activities are scaleable and interchangeable depending on business need. The vision however is fixed: leveraging lean UX and design thinking principles, in collaboration with stakeholders, to rapidly pinpoint, ideate and solve pressing business problems.

The framework is currently in play with a number of clients in the retail and service sectors. Stay tuned for an update.

next up Lifting the lid on Bluetooth beacons

Adam McArthur