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UX + Agile: Should I go for it?


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A talk I gave at UXCampLondon 2013.
Simple criteria to decide, as a User Experience designer, if the Agile methodology is adapted to your next project.

Published in: Design, Technology, Business

UX + Agile: Should I go for it?

  1. 1. UX + Agile Should you go for it? Sunday, 1 September 13
  2. 2. Blaise Galinier Lead UX designer at AllofUs @blasj Sunday, 1 September 13
  3. 3. Disclaimer: I am not an agile guru. Sunday, 1 September 13
  4. 4. • Iterative process, originally for development • Work in short “sprints” (e.g. 2 weeks), focusing on a small scope. • Build the product incrementally • After each sprint, use what you’ve learnt to reevaluate where you’re heading • Informal collaboration (sketching, pair design) instead of heavy documentation (massive wireframes doc) • Sounds great!... Agile in a nutshell Sunday, 1 September 13
  5. 5. • You don’t know what you’ll get in the end. It might not be what you set off to build originally. • Your precious designs are not set in stone. They could get revisited at a later sprint, maybe discarded completely. • You don’t know when you’ll finish. It will take however long it needs. The scary stuff Sunday, 1 September 13
  6. 6. You’re starting a new project. You’ve been thinking about “going agile” but... is this the right time? Sunday, 1 September 13
  7. 7. • Devs are usually comfortable with agile • Graphic designers / project managers, no so much! • If they are not, you will have to lead. Do you have the authority for it? Has the team done agile before? Sunday, 1 September 13
  8. 8. • It is better if the whole team (UX + graphic design + dev) are all on the same site, as agile requires collaboration. • Devs separate from the rest of the team (e.g. UX + graphic design in agency + in-house dev or offshore dev): not so good. • Don’t go agile if you can’t spend at least 1 or 2 days with the devs every week. Is the team in the same building? Sunday, 1 September 13
  9. 9. • Every sprint, there are decisions to be made. The sooner they are made, the better. • Less available stakeholder >> you produce a lot of documentation before you get a chance to get it approved • Documentation sitting idle becomes outdated: avoid it! • Multiple stakeholders = not good for agile Is the stakeholder very involved? Sunday, 1 September 13
  10. 10. • In agile, you can’t get both! (it’s like quantum physics) • If the deadline is fixed, you can’t tell what you’ll get built. • If the scope is fixed, you can’t tell when you’ll achieve it. • Agile is about embracing uncertainty... How flexible is the scope? How flexible is the deadline? Sunday, 1 September 13
  11. 11. • This is hard to gauge at first. • Startups are more open to uncertainty than big corporate clients. • It helps if you know the stakeholder... Is the stakeholder OK with uncertainty? Sunday, 1 September 13
  12. 12. • Trust is what makes the uncertainty acceptable. • Because in agile the stakeholder doesn’t have a clear criteria to tell if you’ve done a good job or not. • Use the early stages of the project to establish that trust. Does the stakeholder TRUST you? Sunday, 1 September 13
  13. 13. Fixed cost or ongoing retainer? • Fixed cost ≈ fixed project duration ≈ hard deadline • To make fixed cost work, you need a flexible scope • Retainers are very good for agile Sunday, 1 September 13
  14. 14. In summary +Everyone on site +Flexible scope +Flexible deadline +Hand-on stakeholder +Trusting environment +Experienced team +Retainer -Scattered team -Aversion to risk / uncertainty -Fixed cost -Unmovable deadline -Multiple stakeholders Sunday, 1 September 13
  15. 15. A few more things • Accept the fact that you don’t know enough. It’s about learning as quick as possible. Initial research doesn’t make you invincible. • Fact: thing don’t go according to plan. Waterfall ignores this. Agile embraces it. • Agile doesn’t mean you have to do loads of user testing (although you’re in a great position to do it). • The early phase of a project (research/planning/strategy/ envisioning...) is not agile! Sunday, 1 September 13
  16. 16. • Alan Cooper on Agile: agile2008/ • agile-is-so-hard.php Some light reading Sunday, 1 September 13
  17. 17. Thank you! Sunday, 1 September 13