Agile methodology started evolving in late 90s and has had a good gestation period. UX, on the other hand, came much later. Taming both concepts for co-existence is still an art that needs to be perfected. Organizations are trying to formulize best practices to fit in UX work and workforce in the Agile execution of projects.
UX isn’t really very new. The only difference is that it was traditionally not a very formal and matured concept. Before, end users or developers with an eye for aesthetics used to informally take care of the UX work in a project. With Web 2.0 followed by the deluge of mobile apps, UX now has the much needed attention as well as sponsorship that it always deserved. Lately organizations have dedicated staff that work along with the development team.
Now let’s see how to involve UX in Agile development.
UX plays a major role in helping a project get sponsored. Inception in lot of organizations also implies a phase where a final go or no-go may still be pending from management and budgets may not have been allocated yet. UX at this stage is very critical for drawing a dashboard and first couple of main user interfaces to drive home the anticipated productivity, usefulness and ROI of the new system. Another important task for UX team is to do a sampling of users to figure out what matters most to them and how could they be more productive and efficient in what they do.
At this stage, the team is putting its heads together to produce a holistic design for the application. UX can help during this stage with building quick and dirty wireframes of features being envisioned. This facilitates going back to end users and stakeholders to get an early feedback on what would make more sense for building the proposed system. Product backlog can be updated at this point to capture user stories and highlight the tasks that UX team can pick up right away and in each iteration.
The idea and concepts are now finalized. Architect and developers start designing the system and produce 4+1 architectural views and other artifacts of the system. At this stage, UX team and business analyst should be working closely to produce the UX for the first iteration or sprint#1.
Developers are now working on first iteration of the product. Developers at this stage should be provided fairly accurate UX designs that will govern the overall look-and-feel of the shipped product. UX designer can directly take ownership of the UX part and help end users and customer walk through various features and get usability feedback. Based on this feedback, they can plan the upcoming sprints. Developers can work with the current UX designs and not stop the sprint midway waiting on feedback.
From this point onwards, for projects with several iterations, UX team should be churning out UX for the upcoming iteration. In an Agile environment, all teams are supposed to be open to changes. UX team should constantly take client feedback on what was delivered before and may have to occasionally produce revised versions of previously delivered UX. It may sound like rework but it should not happen often and it is in the spirit of Agile that no UX is set in stone. End users may always like one view over the other. Developers should understand that Agile is all about taking end user feedback and using it in planning future iterations.
Role of Information Radiators
Information radiators typically used in Agile projects help developers and others to see progress and feel warm and fuzzy about how whole project is converting user stories into app features. It is better to have a separate information radiator for UX so that the progress of UX team becomes visible to everyone and developers can look forward to any UX designs being delivered or revised based on consumer feedback.
Amalgamation of UX in agile method is not a fresh concept. Every agile project has elements of UX management. How matured is this process in your development efforts? What steps do you follow to ensure the seamless integration of UX in agile? Scribble them in the comment box below.
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