RUX Agile Jan 10

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Agile team professionals often find themselves working on projects with tight deadlines, tighter budgets, and unreasonably high expectations for success. Too often user research, usability, and design processes are compressed or even cut entirely for the sake of time, while development and business analysis time is increased. As UX professionals become more involved with agile development methods, we have discovered novel approaches to user-centered design that are adaptable to any budget or deadline.

This discussion will explore how user research, usability, IA and interaction design practices are adapted and thrive in agile projects.

Focusing on their experiences at Agile 2009 in Chicago this past fall, they will discuss:

* How to provide timely and valuable UX support to stressed web development teams
* How to let go and modify research/design/development dogmas
* How to advocate for users when time for user research and usability are unavailable
* How to balance rigor, quality, and speed

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  • CC in crisis. The company’s stock price was plummeting. Market share was eroding.

    leadership looked desperately for new modes of strategic flexibility and fast execution.

    The e-commerce division saw Agile as a means to accomplish more, faster – and as an antidote to waterfall’s long and cumbersome cycles.

    Agile > navigate better through the stormy seas ahead by quickly improving and expanding the web site’s capabilities.
  • CC in crisis. The company’s stock price was plummeting. Market share was eroding.

    leadership looked desperately for new modes of strategic flexibility and fast execution.

    The e-commerce division saw Agile as a means to accomplish more, faster – and as an antidote to waterfall’s long and cumbersome cycles.

    Agile > navigate better through the stormy seas ahead by quickly improving and expanding the web site’s capabilities.
  • What were all of these UX bottlenecks?

    Wireframes and diagrams could take days or weeks to develop and were often entwined with detailed, written requirements and use cases.

    The bigger jam was around research. It could take weeks just to plan a usability study.

    It could take a month to conduct usability sessions, analyze all the data and write recommendations (listed in epic reports).

    We knew this was a problem. And no matter how much we protested, the Agile train was not going to slow down for us.
  • The bottleneck factor was evident in how the Agile rooms were arranged.

    UX tasks were so long and time consuming they were not even associated with user stories. We had our own parking lot far away from the task board. Needless to say, this symbolized an “us” and “them” dynamic that was not going to lead anywhere constructive.

    With Agile’s emphasis on development and engineering tasks – research seemed irrelevant at worst and additional at best for mission success. It was too cumbersome – and results came too late.

    Some on our team got upset. Suddenly we were back to justifying usability – and feeling like engineering was racing ahead without considering the needs of users. It was a UX nightmare.
  • Agile was not going to slow down. We had to get faster.

    It was at this point Alyson and I realized Agile was kicking the beat and playing the chords, and maybe it was our job to find ways to harmonize with it.

    Agile can be defined as “the ability to move with quick and easy grace.” Kind of like this Finnish speed metal band. They are STRATOVARIUS!

    UX was trying to jam with Agile - the speed metal band – with something like these alpine horns. Slow and deep does not rock.

    Our problem: Planning and recruiting for usability tests could take a week or more. Running protocols with up to 8 users could take us up to 12 hours.
    Data analysis could take another week. The report takes a week to write – and a week to read. About 4 weeks – tough when sprints are only 3.

    No wonder we couldn’t keep up.
  • Inspiration and advice.

    Desiree CEE, Jakob Nielsen, Carol Barnum, Jared Spool, Jeff Patton, Frank Maurer – all have explored in great detail the nuances of end-user research in Agile environments. In the handout packets you’ll find a list of articles Alyson and I found helpful.

    We absorbed their recommendations and crafted an approach tailored to our environment.
  • The idea was to compress all the steps to fit within a week. Here’s the basic pattern in 5 beats.

    Planning starts on Tuesday. Here we’re deciding what our questions are and how we’ll try to find answers.

    We finish the test plan and prep on Wednesday and Thursday. This might include some wireframes, design comps, or setting up a semi-functional prototype. We wrote task scenarios designed to help users experience the interface realistically. We handled test logistics, too: recruiting participants and getting our lab prepped.

    We ran usability tests on Friday – starting first thing in the morning. By late afternoon we had started analyzing data and dashed off a quick results summary for the team before leaving for the weekend.

    Monday we finished the analysis and got ready for a review session with the team.

    Tuesday we reviewed research-based recommendations and started planning for the next round of tests.

    Each beat was a minefield of potential bottlenecks. Here’s how we dealt with them.
  • Here’s a rough mockup for a feature designed to collect email and cell phone numbers from customers who want to receive an alert when a TV goes on sale.

    We wanted to know if shoppers understood the service and find any potential design flaws. Essentially we wanted to observe users interacting with the stuff before we coded it. We catch the big problems at this early stage so we don’t have to do a lot of rework later.

    We would often test with conceptual sketches like these and wireframes. We usually had an hour with each shopper, so sessions might include a variety of stuff: paper prototypes, mock-ups, semi-functional prototypes, even stuff in production.

    We usually conducted short interviews with customers about their shopping habits and preferences to break the ice – so over time we collected a lot of useful data we could have used for personas.

    We would write a script with scenarios to help shoppers understand the task and context of use.

    Let’s talk about another bottleneck: recruiting.
  • So we have our test plan, a script, prototypes, and 5 users scheduled and ready to go.

    Here lurks another potential bottleneck: access to a lab.

    Professional labs are great, but they can be expensive, too elaborate and inconvenient for busy teams. So we took Jared Spool’s advice and found an alternative: a conference room at HQ.

    This had lots of advantages:

    Easy for us to set-up the room and control the environment
    Easy for team members to observe sessions – they just had to walk down the hall.
    No additional cost
  • Here’s how we set up a typical conference room for tests with semi-functional prototypes.

    On Friday – test day – our first participant – Joe shopper – would arrive around 9.

    Joe sits at the head of the table in front of the computer. That’s me sitting next to Joe.

    I’m listening, making notes and asking questions. My team members are in the room, too. They sit at the front of the table and can see what’s happening on the screen. This arrangement lets everyone see things through Joe’s eyes – they can even talk to Joe at the end of the session.

    This arrangement was something new in our organization. We were used to labs with mirrors and observation rooms. Having everyone in one room was a leap – but it worked phenomenally well. Users did not seem distracted by the observers, and observers seemed to be more attentive.

    Observers knew not to make changes until all the sessions were complete and only after recommendations were discussed as a team.
  • We had other configurations depending on what was in the test plan. Here’s a lab at a local store.

    Stores provided convenient access to our users. We usually exchanged a $25 gift card for 25 minutes of feedback.

    If Alyson were here, she would tell you about her many spur of the moment research expeditions – with QA and business analysts running protocols and collecting the data. The stores were usually noisy – and shoppers with 30 minutes to burn were sometimes hard to find. But this worked in a pinch.

    Fact is, your lab is wherever you are collecting data. It doesn’t need to be fancy.
  • On a related note. If you’ve observed formal usability tests then you’ve probably seen some of the gear involved. Cameras, mirrors, microphones, Morae software for video playback and session analysis, electrodes (kidding), eye trackers. All great and powerful tools – and in our case, bottlenecks, too.

    Why record hours of sessions if you and your team have absolutely no time to review later?

    The best data collection tools for the job – in our situation:
    a laptop or paper prototype
    A digital camera (for paper sessions)
    Active listening skills
    Notebook and pen

    By the third week we were simply logging observations by hand -- noting significant events (clicked button on page X) a comment (didn’t see grand total change, seemed confused) and severity (high).
  • The Agile rooms were plastered with these research guides and prototypes. After a few weeks we were literally immersed in research. This helped reinforce the teams’ awareness of usability and the plight of our shoppers.

    This quote from a senior business strategy manager shows how research affected the quality of the work and team culture.

    We did get into a pretty good rhythm, and by the 3rd or 4th week Agile rooms started to look a little different.
  • UX tasks – now leaner and more efficient – we’re easier to include with engineering tasks on the board. Stand-ups covered all the efforts of the team, including research. Not only that.

    Alyson and I relaxed the boundaries of our discipline – we let others help with the research and design and we took advantage of opportunities to help out with QA and development tasks. There was transparency. By the 7th week there was a distinct blurring of lines between roles.

    UX got involved with QA, QA got involved in UX. Developers made wireframes. BAs were observing shoppers and collecting usability data.

    Teams felt involved and proud of the UX efforts because they were making a difference – we were making informed decisions based on data – while keeping shoppers central in the process. Demos featured highlights from weekly research sessions. Insights from research were a team product!

    All this speed did come at a price. Turns out bottlenecks do have some value – they provide opportunities to pause, to catch your breath, to reflect.
  • Maybe it was the frantic, desperate environment of a troubled company.

    Maybe it was our own reckless ambition – but we got tired.

    Fatigue was becoming an issue. But we were not the only ones dragging!

    Velocity, the number of stories attempted in iterations – and long hours taxed the teams to their limits and affected morale. Has anyone experienced fatigue in Agile? Here’s an opportunity for further research: fatigue and burn out in Scrum.

    On top of this the sense of desperation within the company just intensified. Weird emails from leadership about cost cutting* and the tumbling stock price added more stress to an already intense environment.
  • Our story is nearly at the end – so I’d like to reflect on why research matters in Agile. Why did we work so hard to make it happen? Was it worth the effort?

    When it’s done carefully, efficiently, and creatively usability brings truth to the table. And truth, when it’s accessible and timely, leads to better design decisions.

    Better design decisions produce functionality that is easier and more satisfying to use. Which was really the essence of Agile in our environment. To build quality stuff quickly, fluidly and collaboratively.

    Alan Cooper wrote recently about the need in Agile to build the right product – and to create it in the right way – drawing on the skills of all disciplines.

    This notion , combined with Jakob Nielsen’s idea that the role of usability is to be the source of truth – help to summarize our experiences with Agile UX.
  • The secret is simple. Agile has its own rhythms – its own cadences – its own song. It’s a Swedish metal band.

    User experience can be successful in Agile if we listen to its beat – find the groove – and improvise melodies over that groove with the right instruments.

    And understand Agile tends not to play the slow ballads. It’s gonna be fast and funky.

    Imagine Thelonious Monk playing Flight of the Bumblebee.
  • RUX Agile Jan 10

    1. 1. Agile  User  Experience:   Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on January  12,  2010 Richmond  User  Experience  (RUX)       richmondUX.com AgileRichmond agilerichmond.com Presented  by: Joe  Sokohl  and  Tom  Illmensee Sunday, January 24, 2010
    2. 2. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010   Sunday, January 24, 2010
    3. 3. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Agile/Scrum   iteraJve  soLware  engineering  process   culture  of  close  collaboraJon face-­‐to-­‐face  communicaJon  (less  documentaJon) deliver  well-­‐craLed,  working  code  in  short  cycles challenging  environment  for  tradiJonal  UX Sunday, January 24, 2010
    4. 4. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Sales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Ttories  &   Manifesto:  agilemanifesto.org   12  principles:  agilemanifesto.org/principles.html Global  organizaJon:  agilealliance.org Yahoo!  Agile  UX  group:  9nyurl.com/4vrwpd Scrum:  www.controlchaos.com   Sunday, January 24, 2010
    5. 5. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 User  Experience   Designing  soluJons  for  real  users  doing  real  tasks Basing  designs  on  observable  behavior,  not  opinion   Focusing  on  people  while  understanding  business  and   technology   User Busin Services Sunday, January 24, 2010  
    6. 6. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    7. 7. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    8. 8. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 User Centered Design     Business Process & Agility Focus Services-Oriented Architectures/ Web Services Enterprise Data Integration Sunday, January 24, 2010
    9. 9. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Communities of practice Boxes and Arrows: boxesandarrows.com   UX Matters: uxmatters.com Usability Professionals Association: upassoc.org Information Architecture Institute: iainstitute.org Interaction Design Association: ixda.org Johnny Holland: johnnyholland.org Konigi: konigi.com   People Don Norman: www.jnd.org Anders Ramsay: andersramsay.com Jared Spool: www.uie.com Luke Wroblewski: functioningform.com Lou Rosenfeld: louisrosenfeld.com Carolyn Snyder: snyderconsulting.net Sunday, January 24, 2010
    10. 10. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010       Sunday, January 24, 2010
    11. 11. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010       Spool’s clo sing keynote 1,400 attended Jared Sunday, January 24, 2010
    12. 12. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010   Joe’s  story   Joe  Sokohl joe@RegularJoeConsul9ng.com @mojoGuzzi Sunday, January 24, 2010
    13. 13. A Tale from the LiveAid Trench Sunday, January 24, 2010
    14. 14. Agile ’09 ➡ Challenge: Create a functioning iPhone-enable Web app in 4 days ➡ Charity: www.ManoAMano.org ➡ Goal: Raise $1,000 at the closing banquet Sunday, January 24, 2010
    15. 15. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Guerilla Research Sunday, January 24, 2010
    16. 16. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Crafting Better Research Questions Sunday, January 24, 2010
    17. 17. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Interviewing Research Participants Sunday, January 24, 2010
    18. 18. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Personas Sunday, January 24, 2010
    19. 19. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Tell us about Alice... Sunday, January 24, 2010
    20. 20. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Task Analysis Sunday, January 24, 2010
    21. 21. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Sketching and Rapid Design Sunday, January 24, 2010
    22. 22. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Teaching the Design Studio Method Sunday, January 24, 2010
    23. 23. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Presenting Sketches Sunday, January 24, 2010
    24. 24. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Day 2: Design Review Sunday, January 24, 2010
    25. 25. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Critiquing the Design Sunday, January 24, 2010
    26. 26. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Paired Programming Sunday, January 24, 2010
    27. 27. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Day 3: From Prototype to Production Sunday, January 24, 2010
    28. 28. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Craftsmen at Work Sunday, January 24, 2010
    29. 29. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Day 4: Finish and Launch Sunday, January 24, 2010
    30. 30. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    31. 31. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    32. 32. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    33. 33. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 We didn’t meet our goal... We exceeded it. Sunday, January 24, 2010
    34. 34. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Tales  and  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 ...we raised $5,400 during Jared’s talk ($2,700 from app with $2,700 matching funds) www.manoamano.org Sunday, January 24, 2010
    35. 35. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010   Tom’s  story   Tom  Illmensee illmensee@gmail.com Sunday, January 24, 2010
    36. 36. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010   U.S.  economy  –  2007/2008   S.S.  Short  Circuit hNp://www.flickr.com/photos/amphalon/489866219/ Sunday, January 24, 2010
    37. 37. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 Wireframes  >>  days/weeks Plan  usability  study  >>  1  week   Recruit  users  >>  1.5  weeks Conduct  sessions  >>  2  days   Analyze  data  >>  1  week RecommendaJons  >>  3  days Write  report  >>  1  week Sunday, January 24, 2010
    38. 38. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    39. 39. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010       hNp://www.flickr.com/photos/gabriele/68282411/ hNp://www.flickr.com/photos/opera-­‐nut/2752861268/ Sunday, January 24, 2010
    40. 40. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010       Sunday, January 24, 2010
    41. 41. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    42. 42. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    43. 43. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    44. 44. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    45. 45. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    46. 46. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    47. 47. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 “[Customer]  research  collateral,  including  original  paper  prototypes,   were  all  prominently  displayed  [in  Agile  work  rooms],  giving  the  en9re     team  a  sense  that  the  [shopper]  was  always  in  the  room.  I  heard   repeated  feedback  that  team  members  from  the  QA  and  technical   teams  were  especially  interested  by  this  new  way  of  seeing  things—it     really  opened  their  eyes  to  designing  soluJons  for   people.” -­‐  Senior  Business  Strategy  Manager Sunday, January 24, 2010
    48. 48. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     Sunday, January 24, 2010
    49. 49. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     hNp://www.flickr.com/photos/lorda/129806123/ Sunday, January 24, 2010
    50. 50. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010 “One  of  the  responsibili9es  of  soaware  development  is  to  assure  that  the  right   product  is  being  created,  and  then  to  create  it  in  the  right  way.  The  only  way  to   accomplish  this  is  to  apply  the  best  prac9ces  of  programming,  design,  and  all  of  the     other  associated  disciplines  and  craas.  *TRUE*  agile  means  integra9ng  these  craas   into  a  joyful,  unified,  produc9ve  whole.” -­‐  Alan  Cooper   “Usability's  role  in  a  design  project  is  to  be  the  source  of  truth  about  what  really   works  in  the  world,  as  opposed  to  the  team's  hopes  for  what  might  work.” -­‐  Jakob  Nielsen Sunday, January 24, 2010
    51. 51. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010     hNp://www.flickr.com/photos/15302763@N04/3386432469 Sunday, January 24, 2010
    52. 52. Agile  User  Experience:  Two  Stories  &  a  Conversa9on                                                                                                                                                            RUX  +  AgileRichmond  –  January  10,  2010   What’s  your  story?     Sunday, January 24, 2010

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