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Agile UX

  1. 1. 1 Agile UX Research Overview
  2. 2. 2 Agile UX: Agenda  Introduction – References—this is a literature review, not a plan  Why Agile UX? – User Experience (UX) – Agile – Differences  UX Role in Agile  Advantages of Agile UX  Challenges of Agile UX  Solutions to Agile UX – Approaches – Methods – Artifacts  Questions
  3. 3. 3 References Title URL A huge list of Style Guides and UI Guidelines Adapting Usability Investigations for Agile User- Centered Design (Alias/Autodesk) Agile Development Projects and Usability Agile User Experience Projects Agile UX Development Agile UX: Agile Coaching, SCRUM and User Experience, Agile & Lean Management Agile Testing Days 2011: DAY 1 Beyond Staggered Sprints: How Integrated UX into Agile agile/ Can UX Be Agile? Can you mix UX with Agile? Case study of agile and UCD working together Case Study of Customer Input For a Successful Product Change on a Dime: Agile Design Clash of the Titans: Agile and UCD IBM Dojo Widget Library Integrating UX into Agile Development Introduction to Agile Usability Just Build It: HTML Prototyping and Agile Development Making User and Customer Experience a Business Competency
  4. 4. 4 References Title URL Six strategies for more agile user experience Scrum Agile Software Development: Chicken And Pig Story The UX of User Stories, Part 1 The UX of User Stories, Part 2 Twelve emerging best practices for adding UX work to Agile development Two Ways Agile and UX Can Work Together Usability Resources User Stories: Stories for Grown-Ups User-Centered Agile Methods Using Personas in an Agile Environment UX Design and Agile: A Natural Fit? Weekly User Testing: TiVo Did It, You Can, Too What You Need to Know About Agile UX
  5. 5. 5 Why Talk About Agile UX?  Agile is here – Companies moving from a waterfall to Agile environment (where appropriate) – Platforms will host and must accommodate a wider variety of personas – UX resources are limited, but the work is increasing, so we must be efficient  There is risk in Agile in the eyes of the UX community – “Approaching Agile narrowly, as a programming methodology rather than a system development methodology, threatens to destroy the last decade's progress in integrating usability and development.”  Jakob Nielsen (  They are two of the biggest “buzz” words  They are different, but they can work together – UX: Better understand users – Agile: Do things in a faster, more flexible manner
  6. 6. 6 User Experience (UX)  Creating natural checkpoints and usable artifacts to facilitate the discussion and solution of user experience issues while enabling user participation in the process.  User and Customer Experience (CX) are not the same exact things – “CX represents the larger business taking on UX responsibilities, and with them an injection of fiscal responsibility.” (--Forrester)  It is a profession with a broad skill set – Information architecture, interaction design, testing & experimental design, graphic design, human-computer interaction, human factors, training, facilitation, modeling & prototyping, project management, marketing, contextual/ethnographic inquiry, research, listening, empathy, standards, copy editing, vendor management, business analysis, consulting
  7. 7. 7 Agile  Philosophy (“over” does not mean “none”) – … individuals and interactions over processes and tools. – … working software over comprehensive documentation. – … customer collaboration over contract negotiation. – … responding to change over following a plan.  Pigs and chickens (and roosters)  No “big design up front” (BDUF)  Agile is “anti-hero”: It’s about the team, first and foremost.  Sunny side: Allows development to adapt to customer needs
  8. 8. 8 Agile  Dark side: Client can change requirements at any time – Features can feel disjointed – Rarely time to create a comprehensive user centered design – A method of development, not a research process, and only loosely a design process – Can reduce up-front design, but does not reduce the time user research requires – Created by & for developers--often overlooks interaction design & usability  “A lack of UI design ownership means that everyone wants to design, regardless of their skill level, which can lead to design by committee.”
  9. 9. 9 Waterfall vs. Agile  Agile is nothing new to UX in terms of iterative approach, but the iterations are accelerated. “For 50 years, almost all experiences have shown that traditional waterfall development methods result in a poor user experience. The reason is simple: requirement specifications are always wrong.” Jakob Nielsen (
  10. 10. 10 Differing Philosophies  Agile Philosophies – Asks “How can what we have now be improved this iteration?” – Work closely with stakeholders/customers to identify their exact needs – Details behind requirements can be identified on a just-in-time (JIT) basis – Detailed, up-front modeling is a risky endeavor at best – Does not generally distinguish between users and customers – Definition of “Done” is up to Product Owner  UX Philosophies – Asks “What is the ideal system?” – Work involves the behavior of complex systems, not their construction – All behavioral issues need to be addressed before construction begins – Users are committed (pigs), customers are just involved (chickens) – Qualitative and quantitative proof of user goal achievement comes from observation of the customer while she is using the product on real tasks
  11. 11. 11 Misconceptions Agile may have about UX  All you need is a good set of UI guidelines – More to UX than creating consistent UIs  Working closely with stakeholders is good enough – Does not ensure understanding users  UX is just about UI design – UI design part of UX, but so is understanding how your users will work with your system and what their goals are  UX relies on comprehensive up-front modeling – Many times it does not
  12. 12. 12 Agile Adapts to UX  Learn UX skills – Other team members should be trained in, and adopt, UX techniques  Accept that usability is a critical quality factor – Luckily, agile practitioners are “quality infected” – Good usability of an end product can be ensured only by systematic usability engineering activities during the development iterations – UX can actually reduce development time by identifying common patterns and eliminating unnecessary steps before any code written  Adopt UI and usage style guidelines – Developers understand that not only should their code follow common guidelines, so should their UIs
  13. 13. 13 Misconceptions UX may have about Agile  Agilists don’t model – They do—they just discourage extensive up-front design work  Agilists are continually deploying software into production – More common to deliver working software on a regular basis into an internal environment for system and user testing  There is no role for UX practitioners – There is even more of a need to involve users in the process  Agilists aren’t specialists – Partly true, because agilists prefer to be “generalizing specialists".  User interfaces shouldn’t be refactored – UI refactoring results in the slow but safe evolution of the UI
  14. 14. 14 UX Adjusts to Agile  Go beyond UX – Overspecialization of roles and hand-offs between people in those roles  Become embedded in Agile teams – Allow others to pick up UX skills, and close collaboration keeps documentation down  Give Agile approaches a chance  Doing some UI modeling up front – Overall organization that fits user tasks; common scheme for navigation; & consistent look-and-feel  Model a bit ahead when appropriate – Explore important aspects of the UI before you implement them  Do UI development on a JIT (just in time) basis  Adopt Agile artifacts – Go from Use Cases to user stories, but assure UX issues assigned "story points" on an equal footing with coding
  15. 15. 15 UX Responsibilities in an Agile Process  Inform the Product Owner to clarify the “Voice of the Customer”  Work with Product Owner to review and understand requirements  Develops scenarios & conceptual wireframes (illustrate user experience)  Get customer and user input  During sprint planning, elaborates on user stories to create tasks  During the sprint, UX advises and reviews completed work for usability  Tries to work ahead on sprint n+1
  16. 16. 16 Agile Artifacts and the UX Role  User Story: A simple way of capturing user requirements – UX helps write, refine, and test  Demonstration: Presentation of what has been accomplished – UX facilitates & creates artifacts for the presentation  Theme: A group of related User Stories – UX helps combine and break down user stories within the epic  Epic: A very large user story – UX helps break down epics into manageable user stories  Spike: Time boxed periods of research and development – UX conducts user research to answer spike questions about users and UI  Tracer: Experimental solution that cuts through all "layers" of architecture – UX helps create vertical fidelity prototypes  Sprint Backlog – UX helps product owner prioritize user stories in backlog  Product Backlog – UX helps product owner prioritize user stories in backlog  Burn Down Chart – UX reports work performed  Burn Up Chart – UX reports value
  17. 17. 17 What are the Advantages of Agile UX?  An Iterative process – Leads to more collaboration, empowering the group rather than a single designer  Better productivity – Catching issues early makes them cheaper to fix  Documentation vs. Prototypes – Documentation is better for complex business rules, prototype better for design  Offers motivation – Rapid testing cycles lets the design team know they're on the right path  Helps drive business decisions – Because feedback is in real time, the team can react in real time  Creates a testing culture – Data drives design, and design drives development  Builds internal knowledge – Design decisions more manageable and easier to assimilate  Communication – Narrow the gap between gathering usability data and acting on it
  18. 18. 18 Challenges of Agile and Agile UX  Previously mentioned differences between the two  An unclear role for design – Business and developers, but what about the UI, UX, and graphic design?  Agile is better for refining (existing products), not defining (new)  Requirements gathering process is not defined – Many don’t want to do any type of documentation to outline a vision  Pressure to cut corners – ”Feed the development machine” can lead to impulsive design  Temptation to call it “good enough” – Agile condones releasing whatever we have so long as it works – Rework gets left in favor of exciting new stuff  Insufficient risk-free conceptual exploration time – Allow mistakes early on when they are cheaper  Brand Damage with repeated failure to meet user needs – Get multiple chances, but errors add up
  19. 19. 19 Basic Approaches to Agile/UX Integration  Integrate UX into the Agile process – Cycle 0 is the "speculate" phase  Gather customer input to determine capabilities to add and the priority of each  A parallel track organization  Developers work on features with high development costs and little user interface, while UX investigates, creates, and verifies designs for next cycles  Design activities occur at least one Agile cycle or sprint ahead of development team  Conduct UX outside the Agile process  Adjust/combine methods and artifacts to make them quicker and leaner
  20. 20. 20 Adjust UX Methods  Include UX as a key component to the Agile process – Assign an owner to it  Change timing and granularity of investigations & reports  Stay far enough ahead – Do usability testing and remedy problems in previous iteration – Support development on current iteration – Design for future iterations  Conduct foundational user research that goes beyond “features”  Just in time: Focus on most important designs, a few at a time  Create the initial vision during a "sprint zero" period
  21. 21. 21 UX Methods (mapped to a waterfall process) Planning Requirements Design Implementation Test & Measure Post Release Stakeholder Meeting Competitor Analysis User Survey Interview (live, phone) Contextual Inquiry User Observation Focus Group Brainstorming Walkthrough/ Demonstration Card Sort Process Re- engineering Affinity Diagram Task Analysis/ Context of Use User Design Guidelines Paper Prototyping Heuristic Review Parallel Design Story Boarding Wizard of Oz Interface Design Patterns Low-fidelity Prototyping High-Fidelity Prototyping Design Facilitation Summative Testing--Lab Formative Testing Participatory Design Style Guide Rapid Prototyping Performance Testing/Measure Heuristic Review Critical Incidence Technique Accessibility Review Summative Testing User Survey Summative Testing--Remote Instructional Design (Help) Server Traffic Log Analysis Search Log Analysis Beta Test Diary Study Standards Assessment Eye Tracking Photo/Video Analysis Benchmark Test Feedback in Use (survey) Cost-benefit Analysis Client Evaluation (of UX service) Research Plan Checklist (standards, etc.) Claims Analysis Cultural ProbeField Study Free Listing Wireframe Personas Scenarios of UseUse Cases UX Goals
  22. 22. 22 Common Methods  Contextual Inquiry  Heuristic/Expert Review  Card Sort  Survey  Interview  Demonstration  Usability Test
  23. 23. 23 Contextual Inquiry  A structured field research technique used for ethnographic study – Can help us understand the context of the user's work and environment – Cannot determine how well a product will work in an environment or how easy to use or learn a product will be, or focus on specific features of the product  Challenges – Limited time within sprints – Recruitment of participants  Solutions – Conduct inquiry outside Agile process or in Cycle 0 (Zero Sprint) – Do both usability testing and contextual inquiry on same customer trips – Recruit and schedule on a regular basis, proactively  New Advantages – More efficient use of participant time – Less team travel and recruiting time – User is more of a partner in the design process
  24. 24. 24 Heuristic/Expert Reviews  Usability specialists judge whether each element of a user interface follows established usability principles – Can point out common UX and design problems, and educate team on UX – Cannot predict how real users will react to the actual product  Challenges – Establishing design standards, heuristics/principles, and UX severity ratings  Solutions – Adjust to make reviews quicker and leaner  Conduct cross-role reviews within a standard review framework/tool  Conduct to flag issues for user testing  Establish benchmark product tasks to guide the review  Establish design standards, heuristics/principles, and severity ratings  New Advantages – Allows looking at the product design as a whole, not just as an addition – Design observations, issues, and solutions are documented for future use – Three to five evaluators can detect most usability problems – No customer time is needed, unless they are included as reviewers
  25. 25. 25 Example Heuristic Principles and Severity Rating Principle The interface should… Consistency …help the user to predict how it will operate and allow her to transfer skills from one task (or interface) to another. Feedback …let a user know what she did, what affect it had, what she should do next, and where she is in the system. Flexibility …have the capability to adapt or to be adapted to end user needs, experience, personal preference, or mental model of the system. Perceived Control …give the end user the impression that she (not the computer) commands the interaction. Economy …display concisely only the information that is required for the user to complete the task at hand. Compatibility …be compatible with users’ impressions of the world and the model of how users think tasks should be completed. Severe - The product is not stable, performs too slowly, or crashes when the feature is used. - There is a likely loss of data. High - The usability issue may affect a majority of users, and/or has a profound impact on a user being able to use the product. - An error is likely that will cause a loss of work and it will be difficult to recover. - The usability issue is on a highly critical or frequently used feature. - There is no easy work around to the problem. - The visual style used makes the product look unprofessional and not up to the standard of company. Medium - The usability issue may affect about half the users, and/or has a modest impact on a user being able to use the product. - The usability issue is on a feature that is expected to be used less than half of the time. - There is an easily discovered work around that allows users to perform the task. - A common task is too tedious in proportion to its complexity. - The visual style used detracts from an otherwise professional looking product. Low - The usability issue may affect a minority of users, and/or has a limited impact on a user being able to use the product. - The usability issue is not predicted to cause user errors, but nonetheless affects the product’s look of professionalism. - The visual style used has minor inconsistencies but nonetheless should be corrected. None - There is no usability issue, or the issue has a negligible effect on system performance, professionalism, or use.
  26. 26. 26 Card Sort/Affinity Diagramming  Write item on index card, and request participant(s) to sort these into groups – Develop structures that maximize the probability of users being able to find things  Challenges – Analysis can be difficult or “messy” – Editorial and legacy structures slow to change – May require all participants to be co-located  Solutions – Zero sprint, parallel track, outside Agile, or leaner format  Automate by using card sort tools such as UserZoom or WebSort  Incorporate editorial, expert, and user input  New Advantages – Users can directly help design the content and application structure – A tool to design and confirm complex navigation and information architecture
  27. 27. 27 Surveys  Sets of questions that are delivered to a large number of people in order to gather quantitative and qualitative data – Can gather information from a large section of users inexpensively – No understanding of “why” behind facts, and also cannot tell if people will buy product  Challenges – Recruiting participants – Testing surveys within tight timelines – Low response rate, compensation, and anonymity  Solutions – Zero sprint, parallel track, outside Agile, or leaner format  Use standard survey questions, templates, and reporting  User partnering system (surveys, demographic data, panel management)  Use results to complement and focus user testing  Build enterprise infrastructure for surveys, polls, and forms  Engage recruiting firms  New Advantage – Survey results can be compared across iterations and products – Past survey results can be used to create new surveys – Tool to measure general customer satisfaction and feed executive dashboards
  28. 28. 28 Interviews  Structured one-on-one question and answer sessions that attempt to gain understanding in areas that that are unclear – Learn user likes and dislikes, and what they want to see in future versions – Cannot determine if software is easy to use – Will not help identify new market opportunities  Challenges – Recruiting and scheduling is more difficult with a constrained timeline  Solutions – Zero sprint, parallel track, outside Agile, or leaner format  Create customer panel to enable proactive recruiting  Conduct remote interviews to complement live interviews  New Advantages – Get knowledge right from the field for a discount price – Less travel and cost
  29. 29. 29 Demonstrations  A canned presentation of new software (or new features) shown to customers, users, or stakeholders to get their opinions – Learn if a feature would make user more likely to buy, and if they think you are going in the right direction to solve their problems – Cannot determine if a feature will work in a real production environment, if it is easy to use and learn, or how much people will like the feature after they start using it for real  Challenges – Product Owner does not have time to put demo together  Solutions – Zero sprint, parallel track  UX assists with prototype or other demonstration artifacts  UX assists with review protocol and measurements  New Advantages – Product Owner is more knowledgeable about user experience issues – Tighter integration between customer and user needs
  30. 30. 30 Usability Test  Evaluate a product design by watching the intended users of the product try it (or a prototype) – Can indicate how well a user can complete tasks – Cannot discover whether a product will fit into the users' work environment, that a product is solving the right problems for specific users, or if people will actually buy it  Challenges – Recruiting can be challenging – Can take a lot of time to collect data and analyze results – Expensive when done in a lab environment – Technical issues with remote testing
  31. 31. 31 Usability Test  Solutions – Zero sprint, parallel track, outside Agile, or leaner format  Start recruiting right away from database of potential participants  Use “Think-aloud” protocol  Remote testing (monitored and non-monitored)  Bring in no more than 3 participants each time  Test on same day at same time  Show the participants whatever is ready  Schedule session midway in sprint, leaving time to react  Invite everyone to review session
  32. 32. 32 Usability Test  Solutions – Zero sprint, parallel track, outside Agile, or leaner format  Test internally with colleagues – Expose non-UX professionals to the process and principles – Dry run to test the test plan – Weed out obvious issues – Update the prototype for “real user testing”  Use the testing to “clear the boulders” out of the interaction  Use the remaining time in the sprint to iterate on the design  Perform usability activities in a few days  Do usability testing and contextual inquiry on the same customer trip  New Advantages – Can test on changing designs more frequently – Recruiting for remote testing is easier and cheaper – “Just enough” fidelity of test artifacts increases agility – Can integrate results across products and businesses
  33. 33. 33 UX Artifacts: Adjust for Agile  Personas  Task Flow Diagram  UI Style Guide  Wireframe  Prototype  Web Analytics  Test Report
  34. 34. 34 Personas  Fictional characters created to represent the different user types within targeted demographics  Challenges – New to many (adoption and understanding by larger team) – Require significant investment of time and resources  Solutions – Create as part of foundational research outside of the Agile process – Require personas as the actors of user stories  New Advantages – Ensuring team understands and agrees who the target audience is, making collecting and using customer input easier throughout – Make user stories much more effective
  35. 35. 35 Task Flow Diagram  Documentation of steps in specific user tasks revealing current workflow – Can help understand number of actions it takes users to complete a task – Cannot uncover how the actual product screens should be designed  Challenges – Often flow is defined as system activity, not user experience – Difficult to isolate focused changes within an existing workflow  Solutions – Zero sprint, parallel track  New features mapped to appropriate task flow  Use to blueprint the product interaction design  New Advantages – Shows how it all should fit and gives a sense of direction – Provides an early artifact for stakeholder and user input
  36. 36. 36 User Interface Style Guide  As set of standards that indicate the answer to common design questions such as topography, color, layout, branding, & design patterns  Challenges – All businesses do not have one – Need to maintained and updated – Need to be customized for different products  Solutions – Outside Agile  Create standards to enable the Agile process  Leverage existing standards (IBM, Apple, etc.)  Establish standards committee and process  Create patterns and standards for prototypes  New Advantages – Define a set of re-usable components once (for prototyping and coding environments) – Create a centralized, easily-accessible asset library for designers and developers – Provide a living document that develops as the platform and process mature – Reduce the time developers needed to create repetitive elements – Reduce design cycles by allowing designers to focus on the core experience while relegating the repeated patterns to style guide assets – Don’t have to keep repeating the same user story over and over – Allows those not versed in interaction design to use the pattern library
  37. 37. 37 Wireframe  A static representation of key interfaces within a product – Uncover issues with layout, functionality, and general design – Main focus lies in functionality  Challenges – Translating wireframes to low-fidelity prototype – Annotations produce “noise” in the interface – Synch with written requirements  Solutions – Zero sprint, parallel track, leaner format  Create as the beginning of a low-fidelity prototype  Incorporate business rules and other notes into the wireframe/prototype  Use Axure to automatically generate prototypes and specifications that are always up to date with one another  New Advantages – Wireframes, annotations, business rules, and specifications are all contained in the same tool, which allows team collaboration – Fidelity and interaction can be added until sprint time is up – Work can be reused for new designs or training
  38. 38. 38 Prototype  Models your final product and allows you to test attributes of the final product even if it's not ready yet – Low-, medium, high-, vertical-, and horizontal-fidelity  Challenges – Time crunch – Lack of design skill set – May waste time with high-fidelity mockup if requirements are to change  Exception may be when style or branding guidelines are clearly defined – Different tools with poor collaboration support  Solutions – Zero sprint, parallel track, outside Agile, or leaner format  Use common tools (Axure) to enable collaboration, and share lessons learned  Incorporate branding, templates, guidelines, and design patterns into tool  If you have less time, use fewer details (low fidelity)  Incorporate an understanding of coding challenges into prototyping environment  Begin documenting existing systems in Axure, so designers can save time and effort by re-using proven design patterns
  39. 39. 39 Prototype  New Advantages – Substitute clean HTML prototypes for annotation-heavy wireframes – Prototype demonstrations & daily conversation can replaced detailed docs – Documents are written to record a history of design decisions (re-use) – UI Designers get a better understanding of coding capabilities and limitations
  40. 40. 40 User Story  A brief description of functionality as viewed by the user – A “role and a goal” – Play a major role in project estimation and planning (story points & velocity) – Discovered at planning and other stages of the project – Have three parts  Card: A description, priority, and estimate  Conversation: A section for capturing further information about the user story  Confirmation: Convey tests to confirm the user story is complete and working as expected – Begin the discussion of design  Challenges – User stories can be seen as “contracts” (fixed) – Continuously emerge, change, and disappear – Confused with use cases – Rely on collaboration, discussion, and proximity – Must be implemented and tested in one iteration – Often need to be simplified from Epics
  41. 41. 41 User Story  Solutions – Understand it from perspective of different roles  User: Desired feature  Developer: Feature that needs to be estimated, or work to be completed  Tester: Something for which a test likely needs to be written  UX: Puzzle piece to be fit into a coherent and valuable experience – Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimate-able, Small, and Testable – Full story is conversation triggered by statement on card – Make personas the voice of the story – Have users write stories (if you can) – Don’t write in isolation – Be sure to get your “so that”s (extend capabilities) – Iterate story development with UI exploration (prototypes)  Story coverage more likely to jump out at you when looking at a UI
  42. 42. 42 User Story  Solutions – Make sure UI infrastructure stories get into the backlog  A feature in a wireframe does not mean that feature will get built  Include “water-sewer-electricity-type” features (ex. table pagination) – Have UX present during story estimation – Make sure testers are testing for usability  Acceptance criteria is usually the basis for determining “done-ness”  Create a UI style guide, so user stories are not repeated  Buy design time with complex engineering stories
  43. 43. 43 User Story  Solutions – Split up Large User Stories  Persona or role  Steps of a workflow  Scenario  Sequence in a scenario  Operations  Size or type of data  Type of input, output or configuration  Level of knowledge  Level of complexity  Level of quality expected
  44. 44. 44 User Story  New Advantages – UX adds a key agile component to their tool box – User stories are smaller and easier to maintain than use cases – User stories gain a strong proponent and owner – User stories are “user tested” from the beginning
  45. 45. 45 Web Analytics  Measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage – Can tell WHAT users did – Cannot tell WHY they did or did not do it  Challenges – It's hard to drill down into why people are doing or not doing something with just analytics  Solutions – Outside Agile  Use other Agile UX methods and artifacts to complement analytics  Code products to enable tools like Google Analytics  New Advantages – Analytics can be used to complement and focus user research – Some decision makers need numbers – Analysis can be done across products and iterations
  46. 46. 46 Test Reports  Documentation of test results  Challenges – No standard format now – People do not read them  Solutions – Zero sprint, parallel track, outside Agile, or leaner format  Present proposed solutions for all issues in a comprehensive approach  Provide a standard UX severity rating  Use Common Industry Format (  Produce in a format that enables user story creation and proper tracking  Isolate an issue matrix within the larger report for easy review  New Advantages – Stakeholders will read and use the information because…  It is digestible  It is “just-in-time”  It addresses their questions # Issue Possible Solutions Issue Severity 1 Users had trouble understanding where they were on the search page Make “Selected Content” link bold black text when it is the chosen item, or change these links to tabs. Remove the title text, as it is redundant to the link or tab control Medium