Agile methods, Scrum in particular, are now widely used in the development community. UX professionals who work with Agile teams find that Agile approaches create roadblocks to their participation. Minimal up-front planning means there’s no time for user research or UX design; short sprints leave little time for considered interface design; and sprint reviews leave no place for usability testing or other validation of the sprint’s work. UX designers find that their old role relationships and procedures no longer work, their skills and techniques devalued, and there’s no clear guidance on how to contribute.
But, looking at their base principles, Agile methods should be friendly to UX participation. Continuous user feedback is core to Agile—and who better to supply it than UX designers? But many Agile values and attitudes work against the needs of UX design. Agile methods were created by developers, for developers, without much consideration for user interaction.
In this tutorial, we arm UX designers with concepts and techniques enabling them to participate effectively in Agile projects. We show why Agile methods make sense from the developers’ point of view—and how principles driving Agile methods can be used to support UX involvement. We also show where Agile methods work against the UX goal of a coherent, consistent interface and provide strategies to accomplish a coherent design anyway. We describe proven Agile/UX best practices for integrating the two perspectives.
Finally, we step back and look at project scope. Agile methods address small-scale projects—how to scale them up is debated in the Agile community. We show how to plan a user-centered Agile project of any scale, from iterative fixes to whole systems.