Agile 2009: Agile UX Design Emergent Practices
To my regret, I only got to see a single session from Jeff Patton - Agile UX Design Emergent Practices, a documentation of patterns he's observed multiple design teams end up using to fit into an agile environment.
I hope Jeff gets slides online soon - it was a fantastic presentation but I was in a post-workshop slump and my notes are less than complete or useful:
- UX practitioners find it hard to adapt to an agile environment. They typically go through the five stages of grief as they adjust;
- Jeff was one of the first people he could find to go through this, "the tallest of the pygmies" as he modestly puts it - until he found Craig Villamor of Salesforce;
- Why is it so hard? Jeff theorises it's about homonyms - words which designers and developers use, with each applying different meanings;
- For instance, to a developer, design is "how"; to a designer, it's "what"; for a developer an iteration is a timebox, to a designer it's a representation of the product; and so forth;
- Patterns have emerged! For instance...
- Design work getting chunked effectively: good designers working in agile teams learn to do this well;
- UX as part of the Product Owner or customer team;
- Product Owner as a team blending many skills, not an individual;
- Internal product releases to break up the sometimes long periods between public releases;
- Learning how to do "just enough" work up front, in a "sprint zero" which can take place "whilst the developers are getting CruiseControl working" - much knowing laughter from the room at that one;
- UX owning, or co-owning, the product backlog;
- Use of story maps;
- Owning a time machine, in order to travel forwards and backwards during the project; in each sprint evaluating work from the previous sprint, supporting the developers on the current one, and doing research for the next;
- Cultivating a pool of users who can be available for user testing at short notice, and using these users to do post-testing of existing software and pre-testing of prototypes;
- RITE testing (James Box wrote a nice intro to this a while back);
- Letting a prototype and conversation be the specification, instead of relying on documentation;
- Having "designer/developers" who get their hands dirty with code;
Jeff ended with a lovely assertion: that whilst adapting to agile was difficult, he thinks that using agile leads to better-designed products than traditional methodologies. /me claps until my hands fall off.