Agile/UX: Making the Marriage Work


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It's been a turbulent relationship but there's still a lot of love left to give.

Practical tips, pitfalls and stories of integrating user experience design into iterative delivery.

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Agile/UX: Making the Marriage Work

  1. 1. UX MAKING THE MARRIAGE WORK AGILE Brent Snook @brentsnook marriage-work
  2. 2. @brentsnook #LASTconf MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN JUST STAYING TOGETHER FOR THE KIDS + - • why? started with a theatrical debate about this at Aconex (with this exact name) • things had worked ok for the teams I had worked in, I didn’t understand the frustrations • hearing more UX people’s experiences made me realise that things weren’t so smooth for everyone • objections: can hurt holistic vision, could make people feel like they’re rushed • XP (extreme programming) about developer driven, extreme practises • radical change for many organisations • jarring when used to up-front approach • I can see how the rift formed • when we do agile, sometimes it fails • often because we learn the practises but we fail to grok the principles • we fail to invent and adapt where practises are inadequate or even missing • take the same principles and reapply them to benefit everyone • it can work, closer to the end of the marriage made in heaven side of the scale
  3. 3. @brentsnook #LASTconf THE REALITY • NOBODY IS GOING TO SWEEP YOU AWAY TO LIVE IN A FAIRY CASTLE • YOU WILL GIVE EACH OTHER THE SHITS • YOU HAVE TO WORK AT IT ! BUT… ! IT IS WORTH IT. • like marriage, there is a simple reality • nothing is perfect • you will give each other the shits, no matter how much you like each other personally • men are from mars and women are from venus • development and UX are often looking at things from different level of details • stick it out and you will make beautiful things together • in the spirit of relationship tips, this is a loose collection of vague advice • ignore it, remember it some day and maybe it will make sense
  4. 4. @brentsnook #LASTconf DON’T LAY TRACKS S T E E R • the old way: laying the perfect track - intricate designs, flawless photoshop files • pave the perfect path for the development team • train just has to come along and everything should go like clockwork • fraught with danger and waste • survey the land precisely or you can be screwed by a giant rock in your path • illusion of the ability to predict • we all know that this doesn’t work • agile and lean are a reaction to this • we need feedback! will it work? how much does it cost? is it right? • iterative software delivery is rally driving, not laying a train track • there is a route but it is mainly about adaptation and communication • a rally car without a navigator will quickly end up driving into a ditch • too much is flying past for the driver to process • a great agile UX person has brilliant reaction and navigation skills • know how to generate learning and respond to it
  5. 5. @brentsnook #LASTconf MAP • ok, so don’t use BDUF to steer. how do you maintain vision? • to navigate you need to map • don’t lose your holistic view • this is a common complaint of adaptible or iterative delivery methods • “slice everything up into stories and jam it in a backlog” and you lose your holistic view • have stories but lack narrative to the bigger tale • need to map at the ground level to help you plan what to do next • need to map at the sky level to maintain narrative and holistic view • sky: personas, design flows, problems for the next few months • maps are no good in your head - externalise • use them to re-align the team with their goals • navigate by being the story teller • use big, visual props as you see fit • use an appropriate fidelity for mapping, things will change • do you need intricate filigree and ornate pictures of sea serpents?
  6. 6. @brentsnook #LASTconf IN BE TWEEN ? • part of maintaining that view is to evolve the design • you have plans for what you want the product to be (skyscraper) • you have a starting state, where your product is (house) • these are like two key frames that you need to animate • trying to jump between them will be jarring and risky • can you wait the 6 months it will take to get there in one big bang? • how do you even know you want a skyscraper without feedback? • the destination frame is not a very helpful tool at the ground level • …hard to relate it to what is there now • your current state is a hard constraint that you have to work with • confusion, noise and scope creeping into stories • photoshop-driven acceptance testing :( • you need to inbetween • prodiving mockups, sketching - pick a point that is closer to the start • adapt solutions to adding a smaller change
  7. 7. @brentsnook #LASTconf AVOID BRANCH + MERGE BLOCKAGES • another common problem, bottlenecks or blockages in the pipeline • it is as painful as it sounds • we deliver software through a pipeline • “we’re waiting on designs from…." • how much does it suck to be that person holding everyone up? • as a ux person you're probably shared across several teams, right? • more pressure - less chance to explore ideas and find the best solution • always tossing meat to the ravenous wolves at your door • create a linear pipeline and you will create a greater opportunity for blockages • try not to do it, branch instead • pick a lo-fi option that solves 80% of the problem, start on it • generate and test more options in parallel • merge your findings back in as new stories • add more stories to work what you find back into the product • also works with ui design…
  8. 8. @brentsnook #LASTconf CREATE OPTIONS • this is all about creating options for yourself • recognise your artificial, implied or self-imposed constraints • eliminate them • we can't start that because…….why? • the more you explore the better the final result will be • design studios (lean ux) are great for this! • everyone is briefed on a simple problem • sketch, critique, adapt, pick options • user test or spike options • generate new stories and prioritise them with the rest • the UX person needs to be a facilitator • in the meantime, you already have something working • important: we come up with these designs together
  9. 9. @brentsnook #LASTconf THERE IS ONLY US • in great, functional teams there is only us • carrying on about how UX is holding you up is counterproductive • carrying on about how development is hounding you for work is counterproductive • us and them • blame sucks, its a crap game and we all lose in the end • us and them happens when teams are divided • most orgs are set up with horizontal departments, need to cut across that • up to people on the ground level to remove the us and them • bring people in to the team • invite the ux person to come and sit with your team, make them feel at home, even clear a spot for their Pantone colour mug • feel like they’re parachuted in enemy territory? ask if you can go and sit with them • seek opportunities to collaborate, get used to talking to each other • eat lunch together, get coffee together • you will find it very hard to complain about someone you eat lunch with every day • part of being us is sharing responsibility
  10. 10. @brentsnook #LASTconf • buy this book, read this book • practical advice for what I have just talked about • solid principles for working together
  12. 12. @brentsnook #LASTconf IMAGES ! Heart Stop Sign Cloud Lean UX