UX in an Agile Development Process

ux in agile development

I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday about Agile development environments and how it is difficult to evangelize usability and design with UX in mind. While I argued that it was completely possible to keep usability as a priority while still scrumming constantly and pushing the envelope of development, I realize that in larger organizations that may not have project managers who are UX focused, that the module aspect of agile development can really play havoc with the overall usability of the website/application of product.

While looking around online, I found a great article on User Interface Engineering that covered 12 Best Practices for UX in an Agile Environment, Part 1 & Part 2.

The basics are:

  1. UX practitioners members are part of the Product ownership team
  2. Prioritize users for persona, modeling and research
  3. Chunking the design work, or user tasks
  4. Use parallel track development, moving back and forth in design work
  5. Get more design time for difficult design sections of the project with easy IX work out of the way first
  6. Keep a large group of validation users available
  7. Schedule continuous user research in a separate track from development
  8. Utilize user testing for multiple purposes (similar to #4)
  9. use RITE to iteratively test UI before development
  10. Prototype in low fidelity (consumables vs deliverables)
  11. Treat the prototype as the documentation/specifications
  12. As a UX practitioner, you should become a design facilitator, gathering ideas and deciding how to chunk them out

The details about each of these ‘best practices’ can be found in Jeff Patton’s article and I recommend reading it if you are a UX professional working in an Agile development environment.

An additional quote from the article I found sobering was:

Two secrets to success in software development are:

  1. Start sooner
  2. Build less software

There may be shortcuts in using the Agile system, but nothing can replace good usability research and focusing your team on one product at a time.