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The state of Agile (enterprise) UX: A blog review

Wrestling with a major UX challenge through the force of digital product development processes

“(…) how UX can be integrated into the process is the topic of ongoing discussions between UX professionals and with other stakeholders within the organization.”

(Kris Lohmann ~ CoreMedia)

UX in an Agile process

Examples are great, but in the end we need more abstraction from all of them.

“Originally, the field of usability and interaction design was slow, cumbersome and costly. These were some of the reasons that it was not adopted very fast among practitioners. However, recent years a lot of the methods and techniques have been adapted to better fit the fast moving development processes that are predominant in software companies today. But what do you do when you can’t include users because of NDAs? How do you handle the fierce security demands, that are part of your project? Does your customer really know their users, or do they only think they do? And when you have a deadline, how do you avoid UI slowing your progress? This talk is a case story of how UX was included in the agile development process that resulted in the first Danish mobile bank app: Danske Banks mobile banking app. “

(Janne Jul Jensen a.k.a. @jjjtrifork ~ GOTO Conference 2014)

Crossing the great UX-Agile divide

Without conflict, friction or pain nothing moves forward.

“Every year, the UX community musters more articles, interviews, conference workshops, and panel discussions in an effort to resolve the seemingly unresolvable challenge of integrating UX into an agile process. Now more than wver, it’s important to step back from the growing body of tips, strategies and best practices, and ask why this conflict exists in the first place.”

(Mike Bulajewsk a.k.a. @mrteacup ~ UX magazine)

Marrying UCD with the Agile software development process: Seven tips for success

This theme will be vivid as long as the connection between design and engineering isn’t clear for many.

“(…) the move to Agile has left many product owners, development teams, and user experience professionals scratching their heads over the best way to incorporate user-centered design into the process while balancing the demands of an aggressive development schedule.”

(Wendy Littman ~ UsabilityGeek)

Doing UX in an agile world: Case study findings

UX has the argument of reason; software engineering of power.

“Agile teams are more proficient in executing the development process, but the compressed timescale forces some to abandon user research and degrade the resulting user experience.”

(Hoa Loranger ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

The secret to making UX a top priority in Agile

Don’t defend, attack!

“Has anyone ever had to publish a list of companies that hire coders or marketers? Of course not. Everyone hires coders and marketers. Companies that hire UX professionals, on the other hand, are harder to come by. This has always been mind boggling to me. Everyone speaks of meeting the needs of users as the single most important thing. But when it’s time to put together a budget, many managers think of hiring a UX professional as a nice-to-have and leave it out of their budget. Unless, of course, a manager is in the gaming industry. Gamers are unforgiving and vocal. The competition in gaming is fierce. And on top of everything, games must actually be complete when they’re released. This is probably why game developers pay extra attention to user experience, and the leading gaming companies always have UX professionals on board.”

(Roy Man ~ UXmatters)

The role of user experience in the product development process

With the interdisciplinary work of agile/scrum, UX is not an integral part of product development. And therefore everybody’s responsibility.

“As someone who has worked in the field of user experience for decades, received training on half a dozen development methodologies, and completed over 150 agile projects, one thing that I am quite confused about these days is the term waterfall. In pre-agile times, I never worked in any organization that claimed they were doing waterfall development. If I did hear terms like ‘toss it over the wall’ – and they were as derisive back then as they are now. Product development – at least for products that anyone expects to be successful – has always been iterative, incremental, and collaborative.”

(Steven Hoober a.k.a. @shoobe01 ~ UXmatters)

The UX Runway: Integrating UX, Lean and Scrum cohesively

Getting software development more into the world of people through UX design.

“This article looks to educate developers, project managers, ScrumMasters, Product Owners, product managers, UX team members, and the like about a way to integrate UX and Lean UX principles into Scrum projects. It specifically focuses on the Scrum framework so familiarity with that method is encouraged when implementing the UX Runway practice detailed here and understanding this article. There are some concepts from SAFe but an in depth understanding is not critical. Though I have based the UX Runway around Scrum, it does have reusable concepts and could be readily adapted for other Agile methods.”

(Natalie Warnert a.k.a. @nataliewarnert and Thomson Reuters ~ Methods and Tools)

The UX professionals’ guide to working with Agile Scrum teams

The theory, discipline, and practice of software engineering never really understood HCI. Why would they do now?

“For Scrum and Agile to live up to its full potential, it must address the needs of all team contributors, not just software developers. Giving support and trust to UX contributors will help motivate them to do their best work and leverage more of their skills in the pursuit of excellence.”

(Aviva Rosenstein a.k.a. @uxresearch ~ Boxes and Arrows)

An answer to the pains of integrating Agile and UX

Tug of war between design and software engineering.

“The real challenge with the standard approach to integrating UX into Agile is fundamental to the staggered sprint model. The challenge is essentially that it is not wholly effective to try to be working ahead on the upcoming backlog items while at the same time supporting the development team, answering their questions, reviewing what they’re doing, and providing ongoing feedback/microiteration with them.”

(Ambrose Little a.k.a. @ambroselittle ~ Boxes and Arrows)

When to apply UX effort in agile

Likes to write agile in lower case as well.

“(…) when a UX designer is integrated into an agile team and helps model the business processes, interaction channels, and user behaviours at the start of a project, it gives everyone a clear, common vision of what they’re working with, and it provides a foundation to build upon going forward. When a UX designer asks the right questions during evaluation, the models evolve, the requirements become clearer, and ‘bad ideas’ are caught before it’s too late. And, when a UX designer facilitates group thinking and collaboration on a daily basis, design decisions get made faster and team members have a stronger sense of ownership of the final product.”

(Andrew Wright ~ nForm)

Fitting Big-Picture UX Into Agile Development

Design spikes to protect our design core.

“The rapid pace of UX design in the agile world can lead to shortsighted design decisions. Focusing on addressing the immediate needs of particular user stories within the limits of a sprint can lead to neglect of larger design questions, which can come back to haunt UX designers later.”

(Damon Dimmick a.k.a. @damondimmick ~ Smashing Magazine) ~ courtesy of willemijnprins

(Why) Is UXD the Blocker in Your Agile UCD Environment?

The leaner, the meaner.

“Many organizations are moving from waterfall to agile software development methods. They often combine this shift with a move to user-centered design (UCD). This makes sense because, in addition to bringing great intrinsic benefits, UCD has a lot in common with agile. Both encourage a multidisciplinary approach, are iterative, encourage feedback, discourage bloated and overly rigid documentation, and value people over processes. However, the combination of agile and UCD all too often leads to UX design becoming the main blocker in the development process. Why is this?”

(Ritch Macefield ~ UXmatters)

The First Design Hardly Ever Wins: The Iterative Approach to UX Design

Keep making it better, all the time.

“Since the rise of the Agile movement iteration became one of the hot words in the whole New Technologies industry. We’re encouraged to iterate, we should close iterations of our work every week or two. Iterations are simply everywhere.”

(Marcin Treder a.k.a. @marcintreder ~ DesignModo)

Is UX Strategy Fundamentally Incompatible with Agile or Lean UX?

As with all new things, it will take some time before UX Strategy establishes its position.

“UX strategy is about building a rationale that guides UX design efforts for the foreseeable future. UX strategy can be effective in an agile environment if you can complete the strategy before agile development begins. Following a lean UX process, you can develop a UX strategy that is sufficient when time and money are very tight, and you need to complete a working product at the earliest possible date. However, lean UX does not serve UX strategy well in large companies that can afford the time and resources to collect and analyze the data they need to formulate a strategic UX roadmap that produces a sustainable competitive advantage.”

(Paul Bryan a.k.a. @paulbryan ~ UXmatters)

Thoughts on Lean UX

Let’s register, trademark or patent all ‘new’ ideas we have so we can stifle society.

“Wasn’t the Lean Start-up® simply a case of the Emperors New Clothes? A combination of User Experience Design and Agile development rebranded and repackaged for a new market. Also, what the hell was that ® about?”

(Andy Budd a.k.a. @andybudd ~ Blogography)

The UX of User Stories: Part 2

A lot of things stories can do. Make sure they do.

“Within the everyday chaos of an average design project, part of what makes stories so valuable is their nimbleness and flexibility. They can easily be ordered, re-ordered, and grouped in any number of ways depending on your current need, such as by category, priority, complexity, sprint, or whatever, and you can do this in a highly ad-hoc manner. Team members can use the same card for everything from affinity diagrams to product road maps to scrum boards and on and on. But this level of flexibility also has drawbacks.”

(Anders Ramsey a.k.a. @andersramsay)

The UX of User Stories, Part 1

Reminds me of scenario-based design of John Carroll.

“If you are a UX designer who wants to quickly get up to speed with integrating Agile and UX, there are few better places to start than with User Stories. They are both a quintessential embodiment of Agile thinking (i.e. if you understand User Stories, you understand Agile thinking) and a potential power tool for a UX designer on an Agile team. But like any tool, they can be both highly useful and help your team be highly effective, or, if you have no idea how stories work, cause some serious damage, especially to the UX dimension of your product. So, if you’re using User Stories or thinking about adopting them as a tool, here are ten tips to help UX designers understand User Stories (we’ll just call them Stories from hereon) and wield them to both yours and the team’s benefit.”

(Anders Ramsey a.k.a. @andersramsay)