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Integrating UX Into Agile: How To Ensure Your Sprints Result In Usable Software
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Integrating UX Into Agile: How To Ensure Your Sprints Result In Usable Software

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These are my slides from my talk at Agile2011 in Salt Lake City. I discuss the challenges of integrating Agile and UX best practices and talk about my UXI Matrix. The UXI Matrix is a modified......

These are my slides from my talk at Agile2011 in Salt Lake City. I discuss the challenges of integrating Agile and UX best practices and talk about my UXI Matrix. The UXI Matrix is a modified product backlog format that can help teams visualize and track the UX impact of work done in Agile projects. Finally I illustrate with some examples how the UXI Matrix integrates with Story Mapping, Personas, and can even be used to help teams transitioning to Agile from traditional PRDs and MRDs.

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  • There was a famous commercial tag line for peanut butter cups: "You got your peanut butter in my chocolate! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!". Two great tastes that taste great together." Agile and UX are like this, two different things that can work well together.
  • Just over 10 years ago, not far from here at Snowbird the Agile Manifesto was written to define the values of “lightweight” methodologists who wanted to change the way software was developed. The fact we are here today is testament the impact of that meeting. At the time of that meeting another large change was already underway in the software community. User Experience work had crossed the chasm from best practice to common practice during the internet boom. Unfortunately there was little cross pollination among the UX and Agile communities. Let’s review the compatibility of these sets of values.
  • One of the problems when discussing user experience design is that many individuals and organizations don’t view it holistically. Contrast that to Apple, where design includes everything from the ads to the store, from product boxes, to genius bars, and in store training classes. Consider how a focus on solely producing working software would impact a company who wants to excel at providing a holistic experience that would have to be coordinated with marketing, sales, support, etc.
  • Dave McClure, famous internet entrepreneur and investor has advised startups to think about 5 key types of metrics using his AARRR acronym. I’ve listed the first 4 here which are UX centric (revenue metrics are beyond the scope of this talk). Note how these don’t emphasize development centric things like releasing code that Agile methods like Scrum focus on. That’s a big source of the reasons people struggle with integration Agile & UX. UX metrics and activities are not captured in burn down charts.
  • One of the common sources of confusion is that Scrum and other Agile methods assume a product owner or surrogate user is available to the users to help them define requirements and is in a position to define them and verify the UX is good enough. UX recognizes that requirements for mass market products and services often require significant research and iterative refinement even before development. Good UX is always the result of research that is closely coupled with design.
  • Another problem integrating UX into Agile is that UX work is very specialized, and is typically performed by more than one person because it would be very hard to find someone who could do all of the necessary work at a high level of quality. Just having one of the UX specialists for each of the above areas would create a team of 6 without developers!
  • Each of the 6 UX focus areas listed actually produce value to various parts of the organization, but often go overlooked as they cross the functional silos found in many companies.
  • There have been several publications analyzing how to integrate Agile with UX over the years. Take for example this image from an article from Mark Detweiler in Interactions magazine in 2007.
  • Or this one by Uday Gajendar highlighting the holistic and iterative nature of good UX work…
  • So now looking at theposter image for Agile that appears on Wikipedia what’s missing? How can we integrate UX?
  • Change only starts when people embrace new values. Tracking objective progress towards the desired outcome by making it visible is key. I’ll assume you care about UX and design, or you wouldn’t be here. If your team cares about UX then they’ll be interested in this too. The secret sauce in UX is user involvement. The more user involvement throughout the process the more effective your iterations will be. Recognize the definition of done is like the definition of obscenity, you know it when you see it. Recognize you are not the user so you can’t judge done, only your users can.
  • Here’s an example from a project I did with a customer. I presented this at UPA 2011 this year (with James McElroy). It shows how we used the UXI Matrix to help the team transition to being more agile while retaining some of their existing UX best practices.
  • Agile & UX are like peanut butter and chocolate. Great ideas that CAN work great together. However you have to have a recipe. Otherwise you’ll end up with a gooey mess. Question for the audience. Does Agile fit into UX or does UX fit into Agile?Hint: The peanut butter would never hold the chocolate well, but it makes for a great center.


  • 1. Integrating UX Into AgileHow To Ensure Your Sprints Result In Usable Software
    Jon Innes
    Aug 10, 2011
  • 2. Overview
    Do you have a long list of user stories and have trouble organizing and prioritizing them?
    Want a better way to track dependencies between stories?
    Do you find it tedious to write “As a user” over and over?
    Do you find that some stories impact more than a single user type and need a way to track that?
    Want to figure out how to measure the UX impact of backlog items?
    Want to track UX work like wireframes, mockups, or user testing more effectively?
    Just want to learn more about UX and how to integrate it into Scrum?
  • 3. Agile & UX Integration Challenges
    Working code is not enough to create a good UX
    UX produces deliverables of value other than code
    UX deliverables are used in many parts of the company
    UX changes can impact lots of teams, creating chaos
    UX deliverables often get used by many teams outside of developers
    UX work may require longer term plans or sequencing
    User studies may need to be done a sprint ahead or behind
    User research may take longer than a sprint to complete end to end
    UX staffing often breaks “self contained team” rule
    Due to the variety of specialized skills it may be necessary to matrix
    Some skills needed infrequently, but experience is key to success
  • 4. UX & Agile Meet
  • 5. Compatibility of Agile and UX Values
    Process and tools
    Individuals and interactions
    Comprehensive documentation
    Working software
    Contract negotiation
    Customer collaboration
    Following a plan
    Responding to change
    Agile info based on www.agilemanifesto.org & www.mountaingoatsoftware.com
  • 6. User Experience—A Brief Definition
    It starts by something being useful…
    Functionally, people mustbe able to use it…
    User Experience
    The way it looks mustbe pleasing…
    This extends to designingan overall user experience
    That includes marketing,
    sales and support design
    Executing well on all of these areas is what creates a great user experience
  • 7. Four Categories of UX Problems
    • Get user to recommend to a friend
    • 8. Marketing oriented, get user to know offering exists
    • 9. Get user to integrate offering into their lives and use long term
    • 10. Get user to engage with product for initial 1st use
    These apply to any type of product or service
    includes more than product design activities
    Categories based on Dave McClure’s AARRR Startup Metrics for Pirates see: http://500hats.typepad.com/500blogs/2007/06/internet-market.html
  • 11. Research
    UX Means Integrated Research & Design
  • 12. Six Key UX Activities for Software
    Activities listed based on Norman: The Invisible computer, 1998
  • 13. UX OrganizationalIntegration Points
    Market Research
    Subject Matter Experts
    Project Planning
    Product Management
    Technical Writing
    Market Research
    Brand Strategy
    Quality Assurance
    Technical Support
  • 14. Managing UCD within agile projects. Detweiler, 2007
  • 15. http://www.flickr.com/photos/udanium/290748501/
  • 16. UX Matters
    Involve Users
    UXI Matrix
  • 17. Changes Via Values and Visibility
    New Values: UX Matters, Involve Users
    Involve users early and often
    Waiting until the end is the waterfall way
    The definition of “done” can only be determined by users
    More Visibility: Tracking via UXI Matrix
    Track UX deliverables—who’s doing what?
    Have we validated our stories with users?
    Did the iteration feedback include user feedback?
    Can they use it? Do they like it? Would they recommend it?
    Is the UX getting better? What are we doing about it?
  • 18. 6b
    List Users
    List Stories
    Add hyperlinks to deliverables
  • 19. Common Questions & Answers
    Isn’t this just a product backlog?
    Sort of, but with additional information
    Start with your backlog and just build off of it
    How do I collect UX metrics?
    See www.measuringux.com
    Also consider just tracking what UX things you create
    What “design” metrics do you capture
    Start with do you have a design for the story
    Consider tracking intermediate work like wireframes
    Another good one is “do we have assets” (e.g., icons)
  • 20. More Questions & Answers
    How does this relate to Patten’s Story Map stuff?
    His technique is a great way to start
    The UXI Matrix includes UX tracking and metrics
    Can I use something else other than Excel?
    Sure, but I suggest you start simple
    Why not use sticky notes?
    Teams I work with are distributed and like electronic stuff
    The UXI Matrix has calculations on it, and hyperlinks
    I can print it out or share it on a server
  • 21. Story Map Example
  • 22.
  • 23. Persona Example
  • 24. UX & Agile Meet
  • 25.
  • 26. UX Methods and Deliverables