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What is Lean UX and how does it apply to the automotive industry?

Lean UX is seriously disrupting approaches to design and revolutionizing the ways design and development teams work together. But, what is it?

Double Diamond

The ‘double diamond’ has been an industry standard approach to design for over a decade. Developed by the Design Council it consists of four phases that outline a design process made up of divergent and convergent thinking.

Divergent and Convergent Thinking - diagram showing how these concepts interlink.

  • Divergent thinking:

This part of the process allows for ideas to be explored more widely or deeply. It happens after the initial idea has been conceived and the project enters a discovery phase, then again when a project’s parameters have been set and it moves into the development phase.

  • Convergent thinking:

This occurs when the various ideas gathered during the define stage are synthesized.   It then happens again during the delivery phase of the project when the solution has been found.

Double Diamond for HMI design in the Automotive industry

The double diamond approach traditionally involves designers first creating a user interface (UI) mock-up. An engineer then implements the design before sending it back to the designer who may make further changes that come as a consequence of the engineering stage. Teams go back and forth through this process as they evolve different iterations.

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The problem with the Double Diamond

For some designers, this model hasn’t accurately captured the reality of the design process. Criticism of the double diamond approach is that it is very linear and starts with one solution in mind. Design processes, on the other hand, are iterative and this means that designers are often discovering a number of solutions early on in the process.

So, what’s the alternative?

Lean UX Design

Unlike the Double Diamond process, which emphasizes working towards the ‘right’ solution early on, Lean UX ‘determines success by measuring results against a benefit hypothesis’. UX designers and agile engineering teams start with the idea that the right answer isn’t yet knowable. They create a hypothesis and test that out incrementally.

Lean UX is described as having ‘literally no time for heroes’. As teams from different disciplines move from a siloed approach toward a collaborative design process, some ideas will fail, but Lean UX designers understand this as the means to finding the best outcome. 

Lean UX in the Automotive industry

Traditional vs Kanzi Way - diagram showing the iterative design and development cycle.

Here at Rightware, the approach we take to Lean UX means that much of the design, testing, app development and iteration can happen in parallel.

Rightware’s Kanzi workflow enables designers and engineers to work independently and in parallel on collaborative projects. Inter-disciplinary teams can make alterations and see results in real time. And, small changes and error fixes do not disrupt the entire process.

Automotive interface designers work in Kanzi Studio creating the user interface without having to spend their days writing lots of code. They can engage in rapid prototyping, using the built-in UI design tooling to iterate on designs, viewing changes in real-time, adding effects and animations to bring UI design to life.

Meanwhile, engineers using the Kanzi API work with application logic and data programming in parallel with the designers.

Indeed, Kanzi workflow allows designers to iterate quickly from the beginning to the end of a project, even if major restarts are required along the way. This allows teams to get the best result possible within the allotted timeframe of the project.

The key lesson

With better alignment between design and engineering and without the need for a long validation stage, teams can work with more iterations of prototypes. This disruption-free, agile environment means faster, higher quality results for user-friendly systems in vehicles. Who said the key to teamwork is compromise? Not us…

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