Lean UX in e-commerce and digital sales projects

E-commerce Lean UX in e-commerce and digital sales projects

Published on 09.09.2020, Dr. Susanne Schmidt-Rauch

Online shop operators (B2C and especially B2B) should always be aware of what users are looking for, lacking or currently upset about.

It must be possible to convert customer issues into workable designs on a regular basis. An online clothing store, for example, requires content that provides customers with inspiration and assistance when it comes to combining items and thus increasing the number of items added to their shopping basket. A B2B shop environment for office materials, in another example, must be technically set up to allow business customers to order directly from their intranet. The human-centered development process generally followed by UX experts reflects the discovery of a customer’s true requirements, the incorporation of this knowledge into relevant designs and its use for testing. Shortcuts are dangerous as the interruption of a basic system only serves to create trouble. The merging or upstreaming of UX activities – and thus isolation from actual implementation – often render them ineffective. UX is thus welcomed as an integrated “lean UX” development strategy within agile approaches.

What we are trying to achieve with agile and lean approaches is a faster production of the “outcome” (not “output”). In reality, however, it is used for the ongoing development of software without any systematic derivation of concepts or any input from users. Take the example of the digitally supported financial advisor: a configurator is used to map factors such as distance from the airport to offer suitable properties for sale. The financial advisor can do little with this during any consultation. A single test with a financial advisor would have been enough to discover that this was not needed in order for him to do his job. Poor UX performance! Implemented for nothing – at least of no value to the financial advisor. When it comes to a self-service portal for potential home buyers, this is a different story. However, this was not the product that was to be developed. The basic conditions of the human-centered process are thus also valid with lean: iteration, empiricism and an earlier focus on the user.

Lean also means avoiding superfluous documentation. In other words, the best way to document the software product is to use its source code. The best way to document the technical concept is to use a prototype (no requirements specification). Not included here, however, are change histories, declined approaches, findings from smaller user tests, etc. This brings with it the risk of choosing options that have already been tried, tested and rejected.

Instead of becoming “leaner”, lay UX, shortcuts and fragmentation of the overall concept lead to restoration costs, repetition costs and consolidation sprints without an “outcome”. The following rule of thumb applies: the success of a lean UX project is a function of the UX seniority. Nothing to do with wanting it or getting everyone involved.

What is lean UX? Lean UX ≠ lay UX

No more getting everyone involved!

Conditions for Lean to function

  • Team stability
  • Senior UX governance at portfolio level
  • Not forgetting the old virtues of prototyping and testing
  • Even the more lightweight testing methods require well-screened test persons


Unfortunately, Connecta will not be taking place as planned. Dr Susanne Schmidt-Rauch would have been one of the 80 speakers attending. An alternative programme is being offered with Connecta TV, Doc and Talk – find out more at: www.swisspost.ch/connecta.

Dr. Susanne Schmidt-Rauch

Susanne has worked for more than 10 years using the human-centered development procedure, consults in companies using waterfall and agile methods and is a socio-scientific UX researcher. Following her doctorate in the design of sales-oriented advisory systems, she switched entirely to consulting. As co-founder of evux, she has been working for her customers’ customers since 2016.

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