Q&A with Laura Klein, author of "UX for Lean Startups"
Q. Why is your book timely-- what makes it important right now?
A. We’re seeing a massive increase in the demand for well-designed, easy-to-use products. At the same time, we’re seeing an incredible shortage of designers who can work at the sort of fast-paced, data-driven, innovative startups that are popping up. UX for Lean Startups helps teach founders and entrepreneurs the basics of research, design, and UX so that they can build products people love and companies that can grow.
Q. What information do you hope that readers of your book will walk away with?
A. I hope that everybody who reads the book will be able to learn from their customers and turn that information into products that people will actually buy. I want startups to stop building things people don’t want and can’t use. This book can help them do that.
Q. What's the most exciting and/or important thing happening in your space?
A. I think the addition of data is the most important change to design that I’ve seen. By incorporating real data into the design process, we can understand exactly what effect our changes have on our users’ behavior. It used to be that design was about opinion and compromise. Now it’s about proving that the work we do has a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.
Laura's top 5 tips for readers:
1. Talking to users is not as good as listening to users, which is not as good as observing users. The best way to truly understand your user experience is to watch people trying to use your product. Do this as often as possible. It can be painful, but it’s always useful.
2. Know that something you believe may be wrong. The most important thing you can do is to identify which of your beliefs are assumptions and validate them. Before you spend a lot of time designing and building a feature, spend a little time validating whether or not the feature will help your business.
3. Quantitative research tells you what. Qualitative research tells you why. Things like A/B testing and funnel analysis (quant) are useful for explaining things like which design caused people to buy more products and where people fell out of the purchase funnel. Things like observational research and usability testing (qual) can tell you why users responded better to a particular design and why users are getting dropping out of the purchase funnel. Use them together for the best results.
4. An MVP is not half of a big product. It’s a whole small product. Don’t build something crappy and unusable and then claim it’s a minimum viable product. Build a good, but limited, version of your product that solves a serious problem for people.
5. Lean Startup is about learning, not landing pages. Whenever you’re wondering whether you should use a specific Lean Startup tactic, like a landing page or an MVP or an A/B test, ask yourself what you hope to learn from it and whether there is a cheaper, faster, more effective way to get that learning. Just measuring things doesn’t make you lean. The only way to truly be a Lean Startup is to Build, Measure, and Learn (and then Iterate).
About the Author
Laura 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.