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UX for Lean Startups: Faster, Smarter User Experience Research and Design Hardcover – May 26, 2013
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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.
From the Publisher
Look for more titles in the series
The Lean Series, curated by Eric Ries, is a collection of books written by the best people in the field, on topics that matter. The authors dive down into Lean Startup implementation-level details, providing readers with information they can immediately put to use.
We live in an age of unparalleled opportunity for innovation. We’re building more products than ever before, but most of them fail—not because we can’t complete what we set out to build, but because we waste time, money, and effort building the wrong product.
What we need is a systematic process for quickly vetting product ideas and raising our odds of success. That’s the promise of Running Lean.
Top Customer Reviews
The methodology advocated by the book boils down to:
1. If a feature would be expensive to implement, establish the need for it first by talking to users.
2. Once a feature is implemented, use metrics to test the hypothesis that it's solved the problem it was intended to solve.
To the book's credit, it provides good advice on how to validate proposed features without asking leading questions like "We're thinking of implementing Feature X. Do you think Feature X would be useful?" It also advocates talking to small groups of users frequently, rather than doing large-scale user testing occasionally or, worse, sending out surveys (a grossly overused tool for startups).
Overall, this is a light and sensible read, but don't expect any dazzling insights.
It's as if somebody wrote a book on running a bar and advised you to have a good supply of beer and whiskey.
Or if you were going to start a painting business and they said to have some brushes, rollers, ladders and a sprayer for those times you wanted to spray on paint.
Inside this book you get such gems of wisdom as "do a little research" or "test your applications."
Want some more things you should do... "fix a bug, deal with an error, tweak an existing design, build a whole new product."
Gee, so just throwing something online and not bothering to fix it is not the right way to go??? Really??? Glad I read this book to find that out.
So I decided to check into a few of the people that gave this thing 5 star reviews.
The ones that I read their previous reviews were all fans of other "Lean" books such as Lean Analytics or they knew the author of other books in the series or so on.
It's a "you give my book a 5 star rating and I'll give yours a 5 star rating " club.
Maybe somebody can write a UX for BLOATED and OVERWEIGHT Startups. Sell it on the Weight Watchers web site maybe.
Most reviews I read on the book were here on Amazon, and all of them were 5 stars except one. Two things gave me pause-I couldn't understand how the book would have 5 stars even though it wasn't out yet, and there was 1 review that said this book was a "skip it". I went ahead and ordered it anyway, thinking that, if it wasn't that good, I'll simply return it.
I returned it.
The only thing this book has in common with The Lean Startup is its name. Unfortunately, it is written very poorly, and the author (or editor, I don't know) comes across as if they were simply trying to fill pages with text, as opposed to actually having something notable to write. For example, there is a methodology in presentations where you do 3 things: tell people what you are about to say, say it, and then tell people what you've said.
This author took that blueprint and applied it to this book literally, by writing sentences that describe what she is about to say in the next sentence, when she could have simply just said what she wanted to say from the beginning!
Kind of like the following sentence (this isn't out of the book but it's very similar to its writing):
Okay, so what I'm about to say is really important. Oh, and as a professional you may have already heard this. If you heard this then you'll know that this is important. You really need put your customers first because it's very important.Read more ›
I think of the design and development process very differently now, after reading this. Especially in regards to metrics, and analytics, and deciding what i need to measure to determine my design decisions have actually improved my app. As I designers, I need to explain why ive changed the design and help show that its "better" than it was before and that people like it more. It also gave me tons of ideas how to test out new designs to see if they are truly better and result in more engagement. It relaly de-mystified many concepts for me. Its helped me ground all my decisions in reality and think more clearly about how to make design, schedule, and make requirements decisions.
Its really useful for PMs, designers, and developers because all the concepts can be applied to all these roles in different ways. I can see the changes throughout my team after we all read this. So, I highly recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A lot of it seems regurgitated from the other Lean series. Why would Eric Ries publish another book that's overlapping?!Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I've read similar books in the past. I had a hard time reading this one.
The first opening pages of books like this can be pretty watered down, drawing on information... Read more
If you read the Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf, You should not suggest a similar title. The books are similar but different. Worth reading to further look at Lean in UX design.Published 5 months ago by Stan Eysmont
I had to buy it for a class, but the read is easy and interesting.Published 7 months ago by Andrew Wangler
Learned a lot while reading this book and have already started to apply these learnings in my work as a product manager.Published 11 months ago by Marley S.
I am a young PO at an Ed tech startup in IC. This book gave me practical advice on how to test and iterate our product. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Mario Minnaert