Lots of questions come to light regarding how to integrate UX design with Agile. Learn here how to really take advantage of these methodologies, not only in development but also in the UX/UI field.
Scrum is a validated methodology framework, and today, Agile methodologies are close to the de facto industry standard for a development process that implements best practices and quality.
Lots of questions arise about how to integrate UX design with Scrum. The challenge here is how to really take advantage of Agile methodologies, not only in development but also in the UX/UI field.
A post-scrum concept is the software craftsmanship manifesto. It defines values and principles that a software development team should have in order to deliver quality software that fulfills functional and non-functional requirements without dealing with high amounts of technical debt. With this approach, people’s knowledge and advanced technical skill level is prioritized so we can build solutions that are likewise really solid on the technical quality side, thereby delivering great products.
A solid UX/UI has a very close relationship with this concept. A great piece of software needs an outstanding UX. Most pain points in UX/UI design are not attacked by the usual methodology framework that focuses more on the development challenges than the UX/UI ones. The typical Agile processes don’t allocate the time, resources, and scope needed for a user-centric product.
If we don’t work seamlessly with a UX/UI in the Scrum team, we will have UI- related deliverables that are more similar to the conventional/waterfall methodologies. They will not be iterative, incremental, or validated. The Agile approach will be more in touch with the client, adapting to feedback in early stages and avoiding surprises at the end of the process, prioritizing and adapting easily to change. And that’s exactly what we are looking for when we are building great products and putting focus on collaboration, product knowledge, and understanding between the team and the client/product owner.
KEY ASPECTS FOR STARTING WITH A UX/UI AGILE TEAM
- Understanding that an outstanding UX/UI is key
Reports (like the Nielsen Norman UX Metrics and ROI) state that spending about 10% of a project’s budget on UX/UI – usability activities doubles product usability. Unfortunately, these estimates do not produce an ROI number in the classic sense, because the two parameters are measured in different units. Project cost is measured in money, and usability is measured in increased use, more efficient use, or higher user satisfaction.
When the company leadership team understands the value of UX/UI and how it is essential for positioning the product is when the ground is set for seamlessly integrating UX/UI into the Agile process.
- Integrating UI into the Scrum process requires tweaking
Unfortunately, if we work on Scrum with a strict, by- the- rule process, it won’t work well for UX/UI as it wasn’t originally considered in the Scrum definition. It’s a technology-centric process, focusing on small, independent user stories that make sense from a technical perspective but are tricky from a user-centric standpoint.
UX/UI integration works well when the Agile process is more relaxed and willing to adapt to some particular out-of-the-box situations. Situations like working on designing a Sprint ahead of the developers should be considered.
The focus should be put on responding to change more than in the process by following the rules. Teams who incorporate UX well will figure out how to manage tasks and user stories so that UX has some time to get ahead of production and create validated, researched, and thoughtful designs.
THE AGILE UX DESIGN PROCESS
The Agile UX design process is an excellent, proven approach for integrating UI/UX design into the Agile process. It was created by Jeff Gothelf in 2013 and explained in his book Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams.
He developed an idea that integrates “as seamlessly as possible” with Scrum, but he differentiates the tasks and roles of the UX/UI resources. Agile UX helps create well-designed products through frequent collaboration between teams, constant iteration, and frequent contact with users. The main ingredient of the Agile UX process is the user’s feedback. Without user feedback, it cannot work. Try to find out as much as you can upfront and continue to learn about the user. It is a team effort.
Some essential perks you obtain by using Lean UX are:
- Waste reduction: It avoids typical, time-consuming tasks that do not add real value to the product and instead focuses on the design itself. Also, in a conventional design, the ideas and designs are assumptions. In this case, we will try to get far from that. The best way is to start interacting with the final users, open a conversation about feedback with them and learn.
- Fast approach: This creates products that speed up learning. It doesn’t focus on heavy documentation. This means no more lengthy documents or endless back and forths with developers. A good set or series of validation techniques can tell more about our product and user-base than many traditional methods and within a much shorter time frame.
- Constant collaboration: It brings together teams from designers, developers, product managers, quality assurance engineers, marketers, and others through frequent contact and communication.
- More experimentation: Designers leverage rapid experimentation with their designs to uncover more grounded information and lessons on their products.
- Continuous exploration: This takes the hypothesis and facilitates a continuous and collaborative process that gets input from the team, stakeholders, and also includes some clients. This further refines the solution and creates a UI that clearly expresses the emerging understanding including personas, empathy maps, and customer experience maps.
In an Agile UX process, the product owner comes to the UX/UI experts with their initial ideas and customer pain points. The designers cycle through the tasks in its user-centered design process and test these concepts before the development team starts working. Working this way helps ensure that the UI that is being built is the right execution of the idea presented by the product owners.
The test process with real users has the goal of producing innovative products with innovation and usability in mind — a long-lasting solution with great aesthetics. This process will not come straight away. There will be several Sprints where we will need to improve the product and repeat it over and over again.
In the Agile world, everything is expected to be quickly prototyped and shipped to market. This refinement process will not be exactly like that, but each iteration will refine the concepts and the UX/UI design. When this process is finished, the development team is ready to get their newly made UI.
As with any Agile methodology, one of the main requirements is to be ready for changes. Whenever the need for change arises, the product owner will handle it with the UX/UI team directly and not with the development team. Nothing is sent to the developers without UX/UI being involved in designs, decisions, and testing on real or archetypal customers.
The development team is ready to embrace any iteration, and since they haven’t started working, there is no rework. UX/UI checks that the idea is good in each iteration, close to the customers. Also, there is minimal budget impact at this stage.
Here are some new activities that will be added in the Sprint using Agile UX:
- The product backlog contains items that are not polished to be in the current Sprint.These high-level items will have to be enriched with design Sprints, research, and hypothesis writing to help inject both reality and a customer-centric focus into them.
- On the Sprint planning, there will be design tools like collaborative sketching and other group brainstorming activities that will show how the product will look like and the screen flow from screen to screen.
- The tactical design work has to go into the Sprint backlog and is then executed by designers, primarily, in collaboration with the rest of the team. The key is to prioritize this work so it allows all team members to work in parallel.
- Sprint review is an opportunity to review the outcomes — what we’ve learned during the Sprint. Activities like design reviews, discussion, and debate on research synthesis and quantitative analysis inform us about the work we’re thinking of pushing live and help us focus on prioritizing our next round of both product and Sprint backlog.
TO SUM UP
Integrating the UX/UI process seamlessly into Scrum is key when you want to deliver outstanding products. There are a few techniques like Lean UX and Agile UX.
We have reviewed the Agile UX process in particular, as it is probably the most suitable and was ideated from scratch to integrate with Agile methodologies.
This new integration into our Sprint will require adding expert resources to take over the ownership of the decisions on UX/UI and do the whole process of validating it before moving on. It requires more effort than a conventional approach, but we believe that the results and value that it brings are exponential. Now let’s start integrating UX/UI development into your team!
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