5 Lessons About UX Design From Lyft’s Head of UX & Product Design, Frank Yoo


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In a recent webinar with User Testing, the head of UX and product design at Lyft, Frank Yoo, shared his wisdom about UX and how it works at Lyft, a company that reaches millions of users. Here are a few takeaways about UX and design from the webinar.

Lyft Logo1. Align With Business Goals

Before introducing new features, determine whether they’re aligned with overall business goals. There are many different surfaces that need to be designed, and you must be “shrewd about prioritization.” Focus your efforts on where you can make the biggest impact. Aligning tactical efforts with business goals also ensures everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction.

In my opinion, not enough can be said about how important it is to be aligned with business goals. Thanks, Frank!

2. “Get Outside The Echo Chamber”

It’s important to get out in the wild to learn more about your customers. The team at Lyft did surveys, focus groups, city tours, user interviews, and even rode in cars with Lyft drivers to learn more about their users. “There’s nothing more compelling than seeing users struggle with your product,” Frank said. He’s passionate about finding ways to make the Lyft experience better and says you have to work to find out what people really want.

Lyft people in carThis is an essential aspect of user-centered design. You can’t be user-centered if you’re not focusing on getting to know users and learning more about their habits.

Steve Portigal, author of Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights, said in an article from UX magazine that it’s especially important to invest in user research when:

  1. You realize you don’t know the answer to an important question
  2. You believe you have the problem already solved, but you’re operating without any type of humility

As Frank says, “You must invest in your customers, whoever they might be.”

3. Use UX Research To Validate Strategic Direction

The UX research phase gives you the background you need in order to make design decisions.

Lyft AppThe team at Lyft spent over 400 hours doing user research for their mobile app redesign. Although this may sound like a long, laborious process, the benefits were tremendous. Frank discussed how the user research enabled the team to validate their assumptions, make course corrections, and build confidence in the team and executive stakeholders.

Not only does UX research serve to reduce risk (you’re identifying issues early on and fixing them before launch), it can also help build confidence amongst the entire team. When people believe in what you’re doing, it’s a lot easier to get things done.

Frank also stressed how important it is to be vigilant and thoughtful of how different stakeholders are affected by design decisions. You can’t afford to scale something that’s not done the right way. “We want to be thoughtful about how to release features, not Frankenstein it and slap together an app.”

He also mentioned how researchers help the team to make sure they’re asking the right questions.

Looking to incorporate user research into your process? Consult usability.gov’s list of user research methods to determine what type of research you can use at each phase of your project.

4. Understand You Are Not Your Customers

Frank talked about the need to embrace user-centered design, especially as a company grows. There’s a point at which you have to step back and understand you can no longer rely on personal experiences because the team doesn’t necessarily represent the brand’s user base.

The fact that you are not your customers simply reinforces how important it is to do user research. You can’t afford to make guesses and go based on hunches.

5. Culture Matters

For Frank, the internal culture at Lyft drives brand differentiation; but, he cautioned that brand differentiation has to match the company’s true colors. Authenticity is critical because customers can see right through when it’s not.

Final Thoughts

Frank provided great insights into what it’s like advocating for UX and design at a fast-growing company and how to create successful products. One thing to remember: “The best experiences will win the day.”

Related: What You Need To Know About Popular UX Navigation Patterns

Update: You can now watch a recorded version of the webinar.

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