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RE: incremental design -vs- overall user experience

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  • Kent Wakely
    By way of background, I m a Certified Scrum Master (for about 6 months now) with about 10 years experience doing user experience work for the Web. My company
    Message 1 of 38 , Jul 14, 2004
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      By way of background, I'm a Certified Scrum Master (for about 6 months now)
      with about 10 years experience doing user experience work for the Web. My
      company adopted Scrum as an Agile practice early this year.

      <wave>Hi all</wave>.

      It sounds like most people on the list are addressing this quandry -- and it
      is a real consideration -- in pretty much the same way we are -- we try to
      model the basic navigational structure as far out in front as we can and
      then we plug in more-specific process design and testing incrementally as we
      actually develop functionalities.

      Beyond that, we typically have someone with user experience expertise
      involved in every development team, which means that person is involved in
      planning every 30-day development sprint. So that person is able to bring an
      informed perspective about when we need to budget time for rethinking
      overall UI design as development proceeds and the product requirements
      change.

      That heuristic approach is bolstered (when clients are willing to cover the
      budget) by user experience testing that complements our basic Sprint review
      , UAT and internal QA practices. We use a methodology that combines
      open-ended and defined-task listening lab approaches and the open-ended
      testing especially allows users to alert us to UE problems that we haven't
      caught on our own. And just basic the Sprint review process, to -- come to
      think of it -- will sometimes trigger a re-think of the UI. Sometimes
      product owners will add UI enhancements to the product requirements as
      development proceeds.

      So, yeah, our two main inputs that can trigger an overall UI re-think are:

      - Heuristic analysis, through incorporating UE design with everything we do
      - Regular interaction with clients and end users via UAT, Sprint reviews and
      UE testing using listening labs

      We do still grapple with exactly how far out front to model overall
      navigation, balancing those design resources against the other resource
      requirements of the project and fitting those allocations into Scrum's
      30-day dev sprint framework -- especially for big projects with very
      ambitious product requirements right off the hop. And I'm still trying to
      figure out how much of that is related to deficiencies in our processes and
      how much is just part of the normal intellectual input that has to go into
      any project.

      Any thoughts?

      Thanks.

      - kent


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      _________________________________
      kent wakely
      xaccute interactive :: solutions that connect
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      > -----Original Message-----
      > Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 00:48:03 -0000
      > From: "Jeff Grigg" <jeffgrigg@...>
      > Subject: incremental design -vs- overall user experience
      >
      > I can't claim to be an expert on user interface design or agile
      > methods, but here's a thought that's been bothering me for a while:
      >
      > It's been my experience that systems that "grow organically" over
      > time often have bad user interfaces. New features are often buried
      > deep within the existing user interface structure, making it hard to
      > find. New reports, for example, are added as buttons or menu
      > options deep in the work flow, where they're first needed, but *not*
      > made available from higher level menus.
      >
      > I've found that drawing screen flow diagrams of the overall system
      > illustrates these problems and guides redesign of the GUI to make
      > the system more usable.
      >
      > But...
      > How can one avoid this problem in "organically growing" systems?
      >
      > Does the "overall user experience" need to be planned up-front, even
      > when functionality is implemented incrementally?
      >
      > As project direction changes during implementation, what triggers
      > you to recognize that the user interface flow needs to be redesigned
      > to most effectively support the new business requirements you've
      > discovered?
    • katharina9267
      Larry, This is without a doubt an issue that I came across in my experience as a usability manager. Do you suggest that this work should be done in iteration 0
      Message 38 of 38 , May 30, 2007
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        Larry,

        This is without a doubt an issue that I came across in my experience
        as a usability manager.

        Do you suggest that this work should be done in iteration 0 using the
        agile methodology? This seems to be increasingly a recommendation in
        a number of white papers and publications such as Scott Ambler.
        However, when you say 'minimal effort' how does this translate into
        time scales - is there an average that you work with in your
        experience let's say 1-2 weeks?

        I also appreciate, if you could forward the pdfs on the collaborative
        UI review method that you mentioned in a previous message.
        Many thanks,
        Katharina

        --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Constantine"
        <lconstantine@...> wrote:
        >
        > Jeff,
        >
        > An effective way around this problem is to draft a navigation
        architecture
        > (screen flow) in advance based on provisional understanding of user
        roles
        > and tasks in the application. This architecture gives a reasonably
        well
        > thought out framework on which to hang the features and functions
        as they
        > arise "organically." The navigation architecture is itself reviewed
        and
        > refactored as needed as the details of the application emerge. This
        approach
        > is what I describe as "architecture-first development" in the new
        Cutter
        > Report on agility and usability. It's proven to be a good
        compromise that
        > yields maximal payoff in maintaining a sound UI organization with
        bare
        > minimal upfront investment.
        >
        > --Larry Constantine
        > Chief Scientist | Constantine & Lockwood, Ltd.
        >
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Jeff Grigg [mailto:jeffgrigg@...]
        > Sent: Tuesday, 13 July 2004 7:48 PM
        > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [agile-usability] incremental design -vs- overall user
        experience
        >
        > I can't claim to be an expert on user interface design or agile
        > methods, but here's a thought that's been bothering me for a while:
        >
        > It's been my experience that systems that "grow organically" over
        > time often have bad user interfaces. New features are often buried
        > deep within the existing user interface structure, making it hard
        to
        > find. New reports, for example, are added as buttons or menu
        > options deep in the work flow, where they're first needed, but
        *not*
        > made available from higher level menus.
        >
        > I've found that drawing screen flow diagrams of the overall system
        > illustrates these problems and guides redesign of the GUI to make
        > the system more usable.
        >
        > But...
        > How can one avoid this problem in "organically growing" systems?
        >
        > Does the "overall user experience" need to be planned up-front,
        even
        > when functionality is implemented incrementally?
        >
        > As project direction changes during implementation, what triggers
        > you to recognize that the user interface flow needs to be
        redesigned
        > to most effectively support the new business requirements you've
        > discovered?
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
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