7247Re: Integrated Usability in Agile teams from the trenches :)
- Feb 10, 2011I have a number of strong reservations regarding this article, especially about the apparent lack of understanding for the UI and UX aspects of any design work within a project, when it is involved in the Agile process.
To just pull out a few lines from the article:
"Primarily it was a case of not wanting reality to hinder the pretty designs they were making in photoshop or Illustrator"
I think this is a facetious statement by Robin Dymond who misses the point of the design and UI role. His stand point seems to be one that values code and speed of work over design without, it seems, understanding or appreciating the value that design has both for the customer and the business.
A customer/user goes to a website and within 3 seconds makes up their mind that the site is trustworthy, of quality, aspirational or best in class because of the visual impression the site gives them. A website / 'Shop front' is reliant on design (UI and UX) to draw those feelings and emotions from a person, lead them to purchase and ultimately reassure them that what they are purchasing and who they are purchasing from is of the best quality.
'Product personality' influences and affects our perceptions. You get drawn into a shop on the high street or mall as what it's showing you is appealing and is stimulating your senses, the shop front / window is working hard selling you the product before you even enter the store, at the same time it has to convince and reassure you that it is better than the other shop selling near enough the same product just next door. It really isn't because you think it has amazing cash registers or the best 'chip and pin' machines..
Is it possible to imagine a car manufacturer designing an amazing engine and chassis, best in class even, only then to put a second rate body on it or the controls in an awkward place for the driver.. And then still expect people to buy it or aspire to own it just because it has an amazing engine and chassis? No probably not. So attention to detail and good design is by no means a hinderance to the process, its an important and integral part of the business, user experience and emotion / reassurance felt by the customer.
Lets take the term 'pretty' and replace it with Aesthetics. Now it has nothing to do with 'pretty' - It has everything to do with aesthetics. Stephen P. Anderson wrote in the article "In Defense of Eye Candy" that "Aesthetics is not just about artistic merit of web buttons or other visual effects, but about how people respond to these elements. The question becomes: how do aesthetic design choices influence understanding and emotions, and how do understanding and emotions influence behaviour?" For the answer I would suggest you read his article: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofeyecandy
What we need to understand is that its not about something being 'pretty', but as user experience professionals, we must consider every stimulus that influences interactions, so it has everything to do with appeal, trust, quality, reassurance, aspiration and more. Without which, products wouldn't sell, people would choose an alternative 'shop front' and ultimately become loyal customers elsewhere.
- I would like to add, that design isn't something that just 'happens', it takes time. It is something that has to be thought about, researched, understood, created and designed. None of these parts are done in an instant, they all take time to get right. - This is something that this article ignores.
"UX people are the slowest and most resistant to adopting Agile principles and practices"
- 'UX people' are probably the slowest and most resistant because they are constantly seeing and thinking about things from the customer / user perspective, and anything that is unproven in their eyes or introduced that is radically different, potentially lessening the quality of the UX, at the expense of getting something out quicker, will not be greeted with open arms, unless it is clear that it is at least as good as the process currently in place.
"Don't embellish with new features UX thinks would be cool"
- Robin Dymond's negative attitude towards UX improvements is really un-constructive. 'New features' are always going to be introduced, not because they are considered 'cool' but because they improve the experience for the user / customer! If new features weren't introduced, then websites would be stuck in the 1990's with left aligned, vertical sidebar navigation and no real thought about what is best for the customer / user.
"An unstable UI design is usually driven by a lack of knowledge about the customer requirements and technical limitations."
- Could the 'lack of knowledge about the customer requirements' be due to rushing through the process, without being able to thoroughly research or think about the UI (or even UX) from a customer perspective? Anyone (hopefully) who designs for the user would have the knowledge and understanding of what 'ingredients' are needed to create an easy to use UI, whilst giving it the look and feel that reassures the customer that the site is one of quality.
My final thought about this article is this "Designing a product is designing a relationship"
"Designing a product is designing a relationship" - The product in this situation is our website our "Shop front". That is what our customers and potential customers base their initial feelings / emotions on, feelings of trust, quality, reassurance. If they don't get those emotions then our 'audience' is harder to convince that we are the right business insurance place for them.
I'm open and accepting to the Agile process, though my concern as both a web and UX designer is that if we're not careful we will end up with a 'patchwork quilt' of a website, which lacks consistency and has a poor customer / user experience.
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