8 success factors for UX in Agile development

by AND Digital on 27 February 2018

Webcredible's strategic partner, AND Digital, helps build some of the best digital offerings in the industry - they've given us their views on how to make a successful development environment.

We're big fans of Agile at AND Digital and work closely with our clients to help them embrace the incremental approach, to realise the benefits of short focused timeframes and the ability to change direction based on learnings. We're also big fans of user-centered design.

The Agile manifesto was written from a development perspective and at the time there was little understanding of the importance of UX, but we've experienced the benefits of inspection, adaptation and transparency for many teams across the business, not just the ones who write code.

We've defined 8 success factors over the years for harmonious collaboration through inspection and adaptation of our teams' ways of working.

We've defined a number of success factors over the years for harmonious collaboration through inspection and adaptation of our teams ways of working

1. Let design lead dev

Allow the Design team time to work ahead of the development team in the beginning of a product life cycle.

The design team may complete research, initial solution design and validation before. The early stages of a product's lifecycle is the most cost effective time to make sure you will be building the right thing. During this time the dev team may prioritise tasks that are not dependant on the final designs  - for example;. backend development, devops, technical spikes etc.

When feature development is in full swing the UX effort for that feature will diminish and the UX effort can be focused on prioritising work for the next feature. Siloed teams or dual track processes should not be fostered, as the product and team matures the design and dev teams will be more closely aligned within the same sprint.

2. Knowledge share

Bring the product team along on the UX process.

We share findings from usability testing and where it doesn't interfere in usability sessions we invite developers to observe the sessions and take observations and notes where appropriate.

More transparency around the process helps gain buy in to the value of investing in UX and also creates empathy between the users and development team so it becomes easier to keep users at the center of the decision making processes.

3. Prototyping

Prototyping increases accuracy of estimates.

Prototyping is not just beneficial for usability testing it can also add another level of definition to your user stories. We link interactive low fidelity prototypes to the stories in addition to high fidelity designs.

These prototypes help to convey the functional requirements in addition to acceptance criteria meaning that the development team have more information to consider in their story point estimates.

4. Let dev teams review your designs

Involve the development team in frequent reviews of your design progress and ideally before stakeholders get too attached to a particular concept.

Developers will give you an idea of the amount of effort required and if this effort is much greater than the value it will deliver then you may take the opportunity to simplify the execution of your concepts. Collaboration at an early stage will reduce misunderstandings and issues will be identified before too much investment.

5. It's all Agile

Agile events are not just for developers.

To avoid micro-Waterfall effects the UX team participate in daily stand ups, refinement sessions, sprint reviews, planning and retrospectives. This keeps the process collaborative and transparent.

6. Use efficient tech

Utilise design systems for more efficient design and development.

Design systems such as Apple's iOS Human Interface Guidelines and Google Material Design benefit designers, developers and users alike.

Aligning your designs to the most appropriate design system for your user base will help you quickly determine solutions to complex interface, content and implementation problems in a way that your users are already familiar with. This is especially beneficial when developing native apps.

7. Make it accessible

Embed accessibility & design principles in the Definition of Ready (DoR) and Definition of Done (DoD).

Accessibility and design principles are not just about how your product looks they help to keep your team on track to build the right thing in the right way.

Whether it's adding WCAG 2.0 compliance validation to the definition of done or using design principles to guide prioritisation of features, keeping these reminders in your everyday checks helps the product team to keep users at the center of the decision making process.

8. Keep going with UX

The UX process doesn't end when it's shipped.

Monitoring is an important part of understanding the impact of the changes or new features we have introduced as part of the UX and development activities. It helps us discover the long-term behaviour and experiences of our users and adapt the backlog priorities and iterations to reflect these learnings.

The UX and dev teams should work closely to implement and monitor analytics and multivariate or A/B testing strategies.

In conclusion...

We don't claim to have perfected these ways of working but with continued effort into trying to improve our processes through inspection, adaptation and transparency we've seen an improvement in the quality of our deliverables and better collaboration.

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