User-centred design & agile

By Lauren Coleman

Two weeks ago I attended a UXPA event about all things agile. Attendees grabbed a seat (if they were lucky) and listened intently to the three speakers who openly shared their own experiences of agile – this was followed by a panel discussion.

The first speaker of the evening was Eewei Chen who spoke about metrics driven design and how agile can fit into a well-rounded UX strategy. Eewei concluded with the question provoking topic of ‘Output, Outcome and Impact’, in which he stressed that these UX principles should be incorporated in any design project.

Sophie Friermuth presented ‘Agile and UX: A 360 vision’ which took us back to basics. She described some of the challenges of just implementing an agile approach. Key learnings for me included; don’t bombard a client/project team with a whole new methodology, start with incremental changes. Look at the appetite for agile within the team, and adjust accordingly. There’s no real blueprint for a successful agile project, this is very much team dependent but ultimately aiming to speed up process and reduce documentation. Crucially ‘define your definition of done’ – understand and agree as a team with the client the minimum requirements needed to get your product out and in the hands of users and start incorporating feedback as soon as possible.

Finally, James O’Brien, squashed some of the myths around agile. Firstly, just reading the agile books won’t make your company agile. Practice makes perfect. Secondly, agile iterative cycles are not smooth but messy – a company needs to prepare for the chaos of experimentation.

The speakers highlighted the fact that agile is a new and extremely flexible approach and if it’s successful, can be extremely rewarding, even more so if the client is also 100% invested. From my own experience I know that every project is different so no agile process is ever going to be the same and it often takes months of commitment for measurable results to appear.

View my sketchnotes from the event (opens in a new window)

What do you think?