Integrating UX into an Agile Process


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UXPA 2013 panelists Janice James, Jon Innes and Kate Walton presented case studies of projects within a very large corporation, large government agency and start-up e-commerce companies that integrate User Experience into an Agile environment.

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Integrating UX into an Agile Process

  1. 1. There’s more than one way to skin a cat Integrating UX into an Agile environment Jon Innes Janice James Kate Walton July 9-12, 2013
  2. 2. Agile: The basic concept Product Backlog Sprint Backlog Potentially Shippable Product Increment Daily Scrum Meeting 24 hrs 2-4 week Sprint Image from: July 9-12, 20132
  3. 3. Lean UX Based on image from Janice Fraser / July 9-12, 20133
  4. 4. How Agile can you go? July 9-12, 20134
  5. 5. Don’t worry—No cats were harmed! Image from: July 9-12, 20135
  6. 6. Large Government Agency employing >10,000 employees Many employees telecommute full-time or 1 day/week July 9-12, 20136 Janice’s Company Image from:
  7. 7. Project Designing a complex web application, integrating 3 internal and 3 external primary systems supported by other systems Distributed teams Internal teams representing multiple business units 5 contract firms, each with its own Project Manager(s) Content Management System Web and Business Services Reporting Management User Interface Design and Development 6 User Interface Designers and Interaction Designers 1 Graphic Designer 6 Developers Interaction designers primarily work remotely Agile Environment 3-week Sprints Interaction designers work 1-2 sprints ahead July 9-12, 20137 The Project Complex Application Image from:
  8. 8. 3-week Sprints Distributed teams Internal teams representing multiple business units External teams consisting of 4-5 contract firms UX team 8 Agile / UX Process Image from: www.
  9. 9. UX Process 1-2 Sprints Ahead Wireframes to illustrate concepts Interviews and feedback sessions with users 2x/wk, 2 hrs each Iterate designs Write user stories for agreed upon designs 1 Sprint Ahead Final details of wireframes Review user stories formally with business architects and all technical teams Refine if necessary Conduct usability testing 2x/quarter Meet weekly and as needed with UI developers to review designs, evaluate for risks and effort Meet weekly with Visual Designer Agile / UX Process 9 July 9-12, 2013
  10. 10. The UI team drives the design Steady flow of user research means fewer assumptions Usability testing facilitates improved process of fixing problems Rotation of users provides a good sampling Working remotely means increased focus and productivity The Good . . . 10 Image from:
  11. 11. Working remotely means Less in-person interaction with UI developers Lots of meetings (in addition to typical Agile meetings) Juggling usability testing during other in-Sprint research and design activities is difficult July 9-12, 201311 . . . And the bad Image from:
  12. 12. July 9-12, 201312 Takeaways UX within Agile is an evolving process—not necessarily a bad thing Sprint Zero is an opportune time User Research Agile training Communication plans Communication within teams and across teams is key Be creative in delegation of responsibilities to allow for more user research Image from:
  13. 13. Product and service provider to the oil industry <72,000 employees in > 80 countries Broad range of end-users from engineers to field operators Kate’s Company 13 July 9-12, 2013
  14. 14. Two separate applications which are different in: Objectives End-user populations Technical Platforms Large, highly complex applications Engineering Tool (4 years) Process assurance tool (4 years) 2 independent, parallel timelines with shared resources; working on the projects simultaneously 26% of the team is offshore The Projects 14 July 9-12, 2013
  15. 15. Agile / UX Process 15 July 9-12, 2013 Very typical agile process in many regards UX efforts are split between researching and designing for future sprints and supporting the current sprint Atypical aspects Amount of effort spent during the sprint Last minute negotiations with development Redesigns Interim feedback and testing UX sign-off on user stories Detailed UX specifications Image from:
  16. 16. July 9-12, 201316 UX Specification Example
  17. 17. Pros UX team is a balanced partner within the team In the trenches with the team every day – reactive and responsive to changing needs Assurance that the design is followed through to the implementation The Good . . . 17 July 9-12, 2013 Image from:
  18. 18. Cons Unable to perform as much usability research as needed July 9-12, 201318 . . . And the bad
  19. 19. No typical agile environment; No typical UX fit within the agile environment Some aspects of the project will force the shape that UX takes Some things you can work to change; some things you have to accept The most important success factor of our environment is that we assess and iterate on the process Next iteration involves ‘mini- sabbaticals’ Takeaways 19 July 9-12, 2013 Image from:
  20. 20. Early stage startup, with series A funding (some cash) Team meets the “two pizza size” rule limit Everyone is in the same physical location Founders have good sense of customer needs Everyone believes that user experience is critical Some of them know what UX means! Just trying to figure out what how to do things right Jon’s Company 20 July 9-12, 2013
  21. 21. Evolve web based application to expand user base Existing visual design defined by external agency Goal is to add and refine features based on: Backlog of ideas from founders Competitive analysis by Product Owner Feedback from prior user studies Founders had talked to users, but rather informal The Project 21 July 9-12, 2013
  22. 22. Scrum with only minor modifications Two week sprints UX driven modifications to Scrum “Feature toggles” used to try for continuous delivery Basic visual style of site defined, but still evolving Team reviews product backlog a sprint ahead All user stories evaluated for UX risk & effort UX tasks split into 2 phases Sprint ahead: Wireframes/mockups as “light specs” In Sprint: Detailed design & user testing Agile / UX Process 22 July 9-12, 2013
  23. 23. Stories move from commit to delivery in about a month Regular user feedback cadence established Remote or in person testing of designs Clearly defined definition of done for UX Team agrees on design hypothesis in sprint planning Highly collaborative process The Good . . . 23 July 9-12, 2013
  24. 24. Big picture assumptions often go unexamined Balancing sprint ahead vs. in sprint work is tough Have to plan studies during sprint ahead, run next sprint Research work can impact detailed design time Sometimes design epics are hard to fit into sprints Beware the never ending story! Hard to avoid reworking stuff during detailed design This makes it hard to make big changes Prototyping is done in real code =$$$ July 9-12, 201324 . . . And the bad
  25. 25. Have a solid product vision & backlog Don’t know who you are designing for? Don’t sprint! Use story mapping & design charrettes to focus team Consider “sprint sabbaticals” for big picture UX work Once sprinting, it’s hard to change design direction Doing any research away from team is hard in a sprint Track UX metrics to keep score as you go How many users have you interacted with? Can users complete the stories/tasks as expected? Are users satisfied with what is delivered? Takeaways 25 July 9-12, 2013 UX Metrics:
  26. 26. Discussion July 9-12, 201326