Agile 2009: 5 Users Every Friday
5 Users Every Friday was a charming and heart-warming case study of a design team within the e-commerce division of a retailer, finding their feet as the company moved to Scrum and adapting their expectations and process.
An overriding concern seemed to be keeping up with the pace of development; once Scrummed up, the dev team were rocketing away whilst the designers, who'd previously have planned 3 week chunks of user research activity, struggled to follow. This led to UX work being separated out from development and an "us and them" feeling between the teams.
Initially, they played with adding 2 designers to the Scrum team: one to sit within the team and do day-to-day design work and another to sit outside the team carrying on research. Even so, the research was taking too long. There was no question over the value it could bring, but it needed to be available in time - so the team resolved to run 5 usability sessions a week, every week. This had shades of Mary's talk in it, for me - the team were getting better at doing research by forcing themselves to do it more frequently than they were previously comfortable doing.
The weekly schedule was:
- Planning (Tuesday): identifying what to test;
- Preparation (Wednesday/Thursday): getting prototypes, comps, users and facilities ready;
- Testing (Friday): 1 hour per user of testing and interviews, held in a conference room, with designers and sometimes developers present. No flashy one-way mirrors, crude models: all happily lo-fi;
- Analysis (Friday/Monday);
- Recommendations (Monday/Tuesday);
All the above was roughly 1 full-time designers work. Changes arising from testing were discussed with the whole team. Recruitment of users could take *ages*, so they used a market research firm to find very specific people approximating to their market segments.
Analysis had to be lightweight, too - no more thick reports, the aim was to identify serious problems quickly by scanning through data rather than mathematical analysis. At the same time they had to be careful not to dismiss findings. Annotated screen-shots were used to create "WANTED" posters, with the aim of provoking discussion.
Everyone pitched in, everyone crossed the lines and helped out elsewhere. But... long hours were worked, morale suffered and fatigue became an issue (perhaps because of the process, perhaps because the company was in the process of going out of business).
I'll finish with one lovely quote from Tom: "your lab is anywhere you're collecting data".