UX Design From the Agile Development Methodologies Perspective
The article covers the topic of specifics of creating a product following the Agile methodology for UX design specialists.
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The need for companies providing development services to cope with the requirements of customers from different domains, each with a specific view of how the final product should look, requires achieving due flexibility. Moreover, constantly changing the needs of the target audience and the end-users pursuit of personalized services don’t make things easier. As an answer to all these calls, a plethora of design and development techniques have arisen.
The process of creating a high-quality software product involves way more critical activities than writing the code. Therefore, there’s the need for each specialist engaged in the process to adopt their daily activities accordingly. Nowadays, Agile is one of the most popular approaches to software creation that allows keeping in focus the interests and aspirations of both developers and their clients.
The question is, what are the specifics of creating a product following the Agile methodology for, say, UX design specialists. Are there particular features to keep in mind not to let down other colleagues? Is there a tip or two that can help adjust the UX design process to the specifics of Agile methodology? Well, let’s find out.
A Few Words About Agile
There’s no shortage of information about the use of Agile in the software industry and how it allows increasing the quality of products and services. Shortly speaking, Agile enables better interaction between team members, focus on customer feedback, and constant release of working software. Instead of delivering a software product created in one leap from start to finish, Agile methodology implies incremental delivery and constantly accepting changes if they are needed.
It’s important to note that the use of Agile in the software industry and design is not intended for blind jumps from one idea to another until the design and development team finds the proper solution as it may look like. Contrariwise, by working incrementally following the Agile principles, programmers, as well as UX design specialists, can increase the quality of product and find the most optimal “evolutionary path.”
The Agile approach looks pretty natural for developers since it allows them to test how implemented features work in practice and find and fix bugs quickly. Furthermore, close cooperation with the customer during the whole process allows increasing the quality of services provided significantly. But the question is, where’s the place of a UX design team in this picture, and how do the specifics of the Agile approach affect their work?
Primary Specifics of Agile Development for UX Design Specialists
Now, let’s consider some special features Agile brings in providing UX design services. Since the UX design team is an integral part of the overall process, it inherits all features that Agile implies. For example, each project iteration can bring some new requirements, and UX design must be adjusted accordingly.
In Agile, there’s no once and for all predetermined plan of how the product will evolve over time characteristic of the Waterfall model, for example. Due to this reason, it’s essential to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Therefore, the solution is a regular collaboration between all involved parties, and the UX design team must be an integral part of it to avoid any knowledge gaps.
Time waits for no one, just like iterations in the Agile approach. Developers can’t write and test code in a blink of an eye, so the UX design team must consider it in order to provide clients with the best possible services. Some features related to the specifics of UX design must be kept in mind. For example, it may be a good idea to work ahead of the colleagues who write the code if the company follows the Agile methodology. Being one or two sprints ahead of developers may be a good habit since it requires time to embody the mockups provided by UX designers in the form of a properly functioning application.
The Iterative approach in the Agile methodology implies delivering products and services faster. Still, it doesn’t mean that the UX design specialists have to rush and run ahead of everybody else. It’s essential to keep the whole picture in the head and project UX design expectations into future iterations, but a client-centric approach specific for Agile requires reckoning for upfront user research before proceeding with design and other development activities.
When we talk about digital products and services, it’s pretty hard to determine what comes first, flawless and lag-free functionality or user experience. For example, your online marketplace app can load in a blink of an eye and provide features that no one on the market has. But, unfortunately, they won’t have any value if the end-user has no clue how to access them due to the overloaded and cumbersome interface or broken navigation.
Likewise, it’s hard to say whether a developer’s opinion should be valued more than a UX design team member’s. The best part is that you don’t even have to answer this question if you pursue top-notch software services. The very nature of Agile is permeated with the desire for flexibility, and to achieve it, it’s essential to not focus on one aspect of development to the detriment of others. The UX design team input, in this scenario, must be valuable enough to be able to change the course of product evolution iteration for avoiding potential usability issues.
Understanding the specifics of Agile development is probably, not the first and even not a second skill, that UX design specialists acquire on their first steps in the profession. But the features of providing software services nowadays don’t allow ignoring this approach that has proven itself over the years of application. Moreover, for a project to succeed, the UX design specialists must be involved in every phase and should be valued as an equal part of the team. For Agile, sharing a shared vision is a must. Therefore, deep knowledge of its main advantages and adapting to them is one of the most considerable values for a UX designer.
Published at DZone with permission of Sergey Laptick. See the original article here.
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