For the purpose of this story, I’ll change the client’s name and domain and instead explain how this process might have worked for a media group publishing digital content.
Enchanting Tales, a start-up media group within a larger enterprise, was looking to build a new product. They owned their own content, which was incredibly competitive in the market and quite valuable to the company. Through market research and business initiatives, they had identified an opportunity for the creation of a product that would present their content and act as its distribution vehicle to customers. This opportunity opened doors for user experience research and lean UX methods that would let them quickly deliver product innovation.
What is user experience? What is a lean UX approach? The goal of UX design is to create a seamless experience for users. Many different methods and processes support this goal. They are highly dependent on the development environment, but the ultimate objective for a UX designer is to understand and support users’ needs. This end certainly justifies the means. For a UX designer, there are two approaches to UX research and design: lean and fat. I’ll use the concept of body mass to help explain this idea.
There are two aspects of a healthy body mass: fat mass and lean mass. A healthy human body requires 6% to 25% of body fat for men; 12% to 30% of body fat for woman. A person’s body fat percentage is the total weight of his body fat divided by his body weight. The human body needs this fat to create tissues and produce chemicals such as hormones. The human body uses good fats for energy, to protect the organs from injury, cushion the skin, and build myelin, which makes it possible for nerve cells to fire electrical messages that enable people to think, see, speak, and move.
Lean mass, on the other hand, comprises everything else except fat—that is, bones, organs, and muscle. You can determine a person’s percentage of lean mass by subtracting his body fat percentage from 100% of his body mass. In summary, a human being has a healthy body mass when he has low fat mass and high lean mass.
Why does any of this matter and how does it relate to lean UX? As body mass comprises both fat mass and lean mass, user experience comprises fat UX approaches and lean UX approaches.
Fat UX Approaches
You can think of fat UX approaches in the same way that you think of fat mass in the human body. Fat approaches are healthy for user experience and integral to the viability of the overall product. As fat body mass builds myelin to help the body to function, fat UX approaches build deliverables to support a product’s longevity. Their output is high-fidelity prototypes, wireframes, pixel-perfect comps, large requirements documents, and other design deliverables. While these deliverables support the product-development process and are often necessary, they’re only a part of the creation of a user experience.