UIEtips: 12 Best Practices for UX in an Agile Environment – Part 2

Jared Spool

August 29th, 2011

From a user experience perspective, it’s clear what you need to do in a waterfall process. You need to gather any research that will affect the requirements, before the requirements are done. You need to test your designs before the designs are signed off. You need to evaluate the functionality as it’s being built. And so on. Every step has clear contributions and expectations.

In Agile, these contributions and expectations aren’t nearly as clear. Waterfall gave us nice “hooks” to hang our UX work on, but Agile doesn’t do that. The team breaks up work into small chunks and just starts chipping away at it. There’s no clear point when requirements are done (they are gathered in parallel with trying out the designs). There’s no clear point when design is done (it evolves over the duration versus being declared up front). It doesn’t seem that there are any clear hooks in an Agile process.

Interestingly, if you dig deeper, the hooks are there. In this issue of UIEtips, we’re revisiting the conclusion to Jeff Patton’s two-part article on his best practices for integrating user experience work into an Agile development environment. He talks about how teams he’s worked with have found the hooks and made it work.

Read the article 12 Best Practices for UX in an Agile Environment – Part 2.

Jeff is also presenting our next virtual seminar Story Mapping for UX Practitioners: Tying Agile & UX Together. If you work in an Agile environment and you’re struggling to weave UX thinking and principles into the iterative process, you’ll definitely want to attend this seminar. This seminar is on pace to sell out, so save your spot today.

2 Responses to “UIEtips: 12 Best Practices for UX in an Agile Environment – Part 2”

  1. Christian Manzella Says:

    This is a fantastic set of guidelines; one of the best I’ve seen yet speaking to UX in Agile.

    Two other items I think are worth mentioning:

    1. Use the concepts applied as LeanUX by Jeff Gothelf. I’ve seen the most successful design come out of identifying what’s needed to communicate the requirements and using only that. I don’t believe in prototypes (only) as requirements, but I do believe in keeping artifacts & documentation to a level that’s minimal and manageable, provided they clearly communicate what needs to be done.

    2. Exemplary communication is a huge factor in the success of Agile, as a whole. While not necessarily a UX thing specifically, UX will often be the one to champion communication getting done effectively. The UX designer should welcome this responsibility (akin to the number 1 bullet) and remain engaged with the team. When a developer defaults to UX with a question, UX should turn around and pull the visual designer, business analyst, and others into the conversation.

  2. Ruth Says:

    I asked my manager for permission to attend this webinar. I wanted to back it up by pointing to Jeff’s website – however, the content is three years (or more) old. In times of tight budgets, when everything must be justfified, it may be a hard sell to get funds to listen to an instructor who does not keep his website up to date. Even the blogs appear to be that old.

    And, BTW, UIE’s contact page doesn’t contain an e-mail for sending feedback of this type. I would have much rather broached the subject in a less public forum.

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