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Agile UX in Practice

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2010/11/21

Agile development and user experience can work brillantly together… well, but how?

Even if the effort related to Agile User Experience (Agile UX) continues throughout the project (with “just in time” designing and user testing) the User Experience foundations must be initiated at the very beginning of the project, during the first sprints.

Starting to define the Product vision is a best practice. Key element of the vision, the PERSONAS (a fictional representation of target users you can use to help guide decisions about product, features, navigation, visual design…) have also the precious advantage to be directly linked to USER STORIES (brief description of functionality as viewed by the user and an essential agile artifact).

persona template

A persona template

First sprints are also the best moment to create a coherent vision of the User Interface structure, and to establish first Usability guidelines (then UI patterns), two elements that will enable UX specialists to maintain a consistent user interface across features and regular deliveries.

Once the product vision and posture established, the target users defined and the product backlog (list of all functionality desired) initiated, user experience of the application will continue just in time, sprint after sprint, following the iterative and incremental lifecycle.

Trust and collaboration are the keys, and UX practitioners MUST BE collocated with development team: visual artifacts, storyboards, mockups and wireframes, will serve the project and enable business and development teams to build the best user experience.

Wireframe with balsamiq: quick, easy and collaborative

Wireframe with balsamiq: quick, easy and collaborative

But agile development lifecycle proposes new challenges and requires managing User Experience differently…

Practice #1

Support user representatives or business teams (Product Owner) in their analysis, specification and prioritization effort…

UX specialist is the user advocate but also Product Owner partner as well as a team member.

Practice #2

Do just enough user Research, user modeling and UI design up front

Agile Persona

The Agile Persona : quick and easy

Practice #3

Adapt your collaboration with teams during a sprint:

  • Progress one step ahead of the implementation by preparing and designing “just in time” contents of next iterations (sprint+1, sprint+2)
  • Collaborate actively with developers on the functions that must be delivered  at the end of the current sprint
  • Evaluate with end users results of the previous sprint (sprint-1)

Practice #4

Consider feedback differently: direct, less formal, more frequent and more reactive both in the way to receive and to give it.  Overuse face to face collaboration, guerilla usability testing and just enough reporting & documentation

Practice #5

Use rapid prototyping (effective wireframes) to foster collaboration and elicit rapid feedback. Make it valuable and adjusted to the context

Paper prototyping ... from collaborative workshop

Paper prototyping ... from collaborative workshop

Practice #6

Be a facilitator and engage people (both business, development and end-users) on collaborative workshops to design and evaluate the system

Persona workshop

Persona workshop

Anything else ?

  • Agile Scout said,

    Love this. Thanks so much for sharing. We’ll add this to our Guides!

  • User Experience, Usability and Design links for November 23rd | BlobFisk.com said,

    [...] Agile UX in Practice | Agile UXAgile development and user experience can work brillantly together… well, but how?<br /> <br /> Even if the effort related to Agile User Experience (Agile UX) continues throughout the project (with “just in time” designing and user testing) the User Experience foundations must be initiated at the very beginning of the project, during the first sprints. [...]

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