10 Best Practices for UX Success in Agile Environment
For the past year, we have been working closely with Agile teams and user experience professionals to discover the best ways to collaborate and achieve great results. For many UX professionals, it’s not always clear how to fit in an Agile project and what to bring in to allow the project run effectively.
In this article, we share the most popular tips and techniques that contribute to the success of Agile projects.
1. Research and model upfront
Companies that are successful in incorporating UX work and Agile do upfront research that result in creating personas, workflow modeling, task analysis, etc.
To minimize the time spent on this research:
- focus on high-priority users and shorten the time spent on users of lower priority.
- model quickly and keep it lightweight. If necessary, involve other team members to help analyze data and create time-consuming models.
The first development timebox that the team sets aside for the initial research is often called “iteration 0” or sprint 0”. They also use this time to create a release plan, develop a product backlog and in general, to make sure the project is ready to go.
2. Collaborate with stakeholders from the very beginning
Collaborating with stakeholders from the beginning allows developing a common project vision. It guides the team throughout the project and helps arrive at agreements sooner.
3. Design at least one sprint ahead but stay supportive
Working ahead of development sprints gives designers time to test assumptions with real users and allows the entire team to identify potential issues before the design is ready for the sprint.
But just because the design is done (or almost done) before the sprint, it doesn’t mean the UX designers wash hands-off. They support and advise the team during the current sprint and make adjustments if necessary.
4. Look for an expansive pool of users for design validation
UX professionals often have a pool of users to validate design before and after it’s built. This pool needs to be large enough so that the designer doesn’t have to call on the same person every week.
5. Involve the team in UX activities
Good communication and close collaboration are the key to success in Agile projects. UX designers can be the catalyst for fostering productive collaboration by involving team members in brainstorming. This is a great way to increase the number and quality of solutions.
Such a collaborative approach gives everyone in the team an understanding of the design and helps keep all design processes transparent. Some companies go even further: they involve team members into usability testing and turn it into team building events (weekly user testing “Testing Tuesdays/Wednesdays, etc.”)
6. Fail fast and iterate with many options
“Fail fast, fail often” is one of the best-known business mantras of Silicon Valley. When it comes to UX design, it means “Don’t try to be perfect: test ideas quickly, catch flaws early on and correct them .”
Many professionals favor the RITE method – rapid iterative testing and evaluation. They start with a prototype that is repeatedly tested and evaluated (based on user feedback) at different stages of design to eliminate usability flaws before the product launch. This is the simplest and most cost-effective process model because you can keep going for as many iterations as your budget allows.
7. Create “consumable” prototypes
As I mentioned earlier, don’t try to be perfect when it comes to prototypes. In Agile development, prototypes are“consumable”: they should be good enough to understand, to share quickly with the team, and then they can be thrown away.
8. Participate in daily standups
Daily standups are typically held at the same time each day. They last for 15 minutes but still eat up work time. No wonder so many people object to them.
But here is the good news: the ritual of daily standups is useful in keeping everyone updated and synchronized so that the team can respond to changes successfully. Plus, you get a chance to discuss burning issues, including UX-related activities. Reason enough to give daily standups a try.
9. Set clear roles and responsibilities
Sometimes, UX roles can be unfamiliar or unclear to other team members. It’s important to clarify responsibilities and decide on who has authority in various situations to minimize misunderstandings.
10. Host training
In the Agile environment, team members often switch from one project to another (especially, when organizations have limited resources). Providing open-to-all training regardless of the projects they work on is a great opportunity to educate people on the accepted UX practices and get your team higher on the UX maturity scale.