The Lean Startup movement is only a couple years old, and Customer Development as first described by Steve Blank isn’t too much older. So it was a bit of a shock for me to learn that there is a whole academic (and practical) discipline out there which has been doing something suspiciously close to Customer Development for well over two decades.
The discipline is called Design. In particular, I’m interested in User Experience (UX) design.
When I first saw a few tweets from Tim McCoy on the subject of Lean User Experience (#leanUX), I figured he was another consultant looking to tap into the #leanstartup buzzword which is constantly gaining ground. But after reading more and meeting him over a pint, I understood that there was a depth of thought in the land of User Experience Design that could seriously benefit me.
UX designers have a whole host of tips, tricks, and tactics for eliciting customer feedback without leading the witness exactly where you wish they’d go. They have things like Personas, Information Radiators, Uses, Storyboards, and the magic of drafting dots.Design isn’t just creating pretty pixels. It’s about how humans use your product.
Here’s a simplified taxonomy of design by Loren Baxter (originally published here)
- Human-computer interaction is about paying attention to people and their relationship with computing.
- Information architecture is about making things findable.
- Interaction design is about making things usable.
- Content strategy is about making things meaningful.
- Experience design is about making things seamless.
- Persuasive design is about making things influential.
The Blind Leading the Tone Deaf
Because we didn’t have a designer when I was doing product management for Secude, I had to teach myself what I could about wireframes, usability testing, color wheels, information architecture, etc.
Moving from a big company to startup land I found those skills were further enhanced by Customer Development. I could use my paper prototypes and get real immediate feedback on them without waiting for engineers to code them. I faked a few screencasts with photoshop as well.
LUXr or Bust
The course is structured for teams to work on a project, so in the interests of keeping my vague reputation of someone with hustle I put together a team of two engineers, a designer, and myself over the weekend.
We formed the team about 3 days before the first class started. We weren’t entirely sure what big startup idea we’d be working on, and to be honest after five weeks of the course we’re still not entirely sure. But we’re focusing on reinventing the publishing industry with writers in mind. It’s one part wiki style collaboration, one part marketing, and one part lean startup methodology in the LUXr.co crock-pot for 10 weeks.
Over the last five weeks of the program, I’ll write some short articles on each of the techniques I’ve learned, how they relate to customer development, and how they’re being applied in the project I’m working on.
P.S.: If you want to hear more about the project, please follow @monkeymakeit Follow @monkeymakeit
P.P.S.: If you are (or know) a creative writer (preferably fiction) or avid readers, please contact me! We need more people to talk to.
So…what should I post next? Tweet to tell me what to write:Show me how to test product market fit!
orHow can I do lean startup in my friggin' huge company?