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Re: [agile-usability] Improving the user experience incrementally?

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  • Anders Ramsay
    Mike - I think you raise an important issue here, regarding the distinction between iterative and incremental. I constantly encounter people using these very
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 16 8:47 AM
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      Mike -

      I think you raise an important issue here, regarding the distinction
      between iterative and incremental. I constantly encounter people
      using these very different concepts interchangeably. Cockburn is
      probably the most prominent crusader when it comes to preaching the
      difference between these two. I like his most recent way of
      clarifying how they are different: "Incremental means adding,
      iterative means reworking" http://is.gd/jHCU

      He also phrases it nicely in his "Agile Software Development" book,
      describing iterating as "learning by completing." I think what's most
      important in that statement is what is implied: taking what you learn
      and possibly **revising your design based on what you learned from
      your previous iteration.** Iterating, then, is about evolving through
      creating, while incrementing simply is, as Cockburn describes it,
      "developing pieces of the system at different rates or times and
      integrating as they are developed."

      On Mon, Feb 16, 2009 at 11:23 AM, Mike Dwyer <mdwyer@...> wrote:
      > Questions like this need to be carefully examined. I read the word
      > 'incremental' but the conversation sounds more like iterative questions. I
      > know picky, picky, picky. But these two words follow significantly
      > different paths in Agile workframes. Incremental is working on chinks of a
      > large well defined and measurably verifiable delivery. If you do not have
      > all of these items then it might be advisable to first decide what the gap
      > is from what you have to work with and this ideal. At the other end of the
      > spectrum is iterative. Iterative work contains more exploration,
      > experimentation, and research and therefore values the lessons learned
      > through failure as much if not more than success. In fact success may be
      > viewed as a lucky accident by those who are valuing the learning more than
      > the creation of something.
      >
      >
      >
      > So to answer the measure question you need to make sure what you have to
      > work with and how you are going to do it aligns with your measures. Poorly
      > defined, vague and inexact goals are best served by iterative work while
      > highly defined, quantitatively measurable work is best measured through
      > incremental. The secret to the sauce is the mixing of the two and the
      > secret to success is making it clear what you are doing and how you are
      > doing it. You might find a blog on this interesting.
      >
      > http://www.bigvisible.com/mdwyer/incremental-or-iterative-an-agile-fork-in-the-road/
      >
      > \
      >
      >
      >
      > Mike Dwyer
      > Principal, Agile Coach
      >
      > BigVisible Solutions
      > url: http://www.bigvisible.com
      >
      > cell: (978) 376-4422
      >
      > email: mdwyer@...
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > From: leina elgohari [mailto:leina_elgohari@...]
      > Sent: Monday, February 16, 2009 9:04 AM
      > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Improving the user experience incrementally?
      >
      >
      >
      > Hello William
      >
      >
      >
      > Thanks. A very nice topic to start off with.
      >
      >
      >
      > I have another burning question:
      >
      > How do you measure each incremental improvement? Is it possible to do that?
      >
      >
      >
      > Many Thanks
      >
      > Lee
      >
      > --- On Sat, 2/14/09, William Pietri <william@...> wrote:
      >
      > From: William Pietri <william@...>
      > Subject: [agile-usability] Improving the user experience incrementally?
      > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      > Date: Saturday, February 14, 2009, 11:06 PM
      >
      > Hi, folks. Every day, people sign up for this group, often mentioning
      > things that they are hoping to learn more about. But few of them ask
      > directly. That's only natural, but it leaves me suspecting that a lot of
      > people aren't getting all they want out of this group.
      >
      > To see if we can change that, I'm going to start going back through
      > subscription requests, starting discussions around common themes.
      > Novices, consider this an invitation to speak up with specific
      > questions. Everybody else, please chime in, especially if you feel
      > you've got experience or advice that would help those new to the topic.
      >
      > First up: In theory, agile processes, with their frequent releases and
      > even-more-frequent iterations, provide a lot of opportunity to
      > continuously improve the user experience. When is that promise
      > fulfilled? How can designers best take advantage of that? And when
      > things fall short, what steps have people taken to remedy that?
      >
      > Curiously,
      >
      > William
      >
      >
    • William Pietri
      Hi, Mike! Great point. I agree. ... Just to be clear, I meant frequent iteration with incremental improvement, rather than incremental delivery. In other
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 16 9:48 AM
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        Hi, Mike! Great point. I agree.

        Mike Dwyer wrote:

        [...] I read the word ‘incremental’ but the conversation sounds more like iterative questions.  I know picky, picky, picky.  But these two words follow significantly different paths in Agile workframes.   Incremental is working on chinks of a large well defined and measurably verifiable delivery. [...]



        Just to be clear, I meant frequent iteration with incremental improvement, rather than incremental delivery. In other words, the user experience would get a bit better every iteration, but the particular changes made would be chosen over the course of time, rather than all up front.

        A number of people joining the list are clearly concerned about how one achieves that in practice. Designers, any tips?

        William
      • Dan Harrelson
        Hi William, At Adaptive Path we often speak to improving the UX over time as The Long Wow . It s a phrase coined by my colleague, Brandon. The idea is to look
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 18 4:34 PM
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          Hi William,

          At Adaptive Path we often speak to improving the UX over time as "The Long Wow". It's a phrase coined by my colleague, Brandon. The idea is to look at your product over time and plan to impress customers again and again. This fosters loyalty and sets expectations in customers' minds that if they keep using your product, it'll just keep getting better.

          In practice, I find that clients often want to chunk work into phases based on operational constraints. They push off feature X because the new database will be online for phase 2.

          Instead, I try to get them to think about the phases of the customer experience. At launch, what features will give customers a taste of your product's potential? How can you hint at what's to come? What features do you add three months later to wow current users and to show appreciation to early adopters? What feature do you turn on just before Christmas as a special gift? Here's a hint.... it's rarely performance improvement that makes customers say wow.

          Here's Brandon's essay and slides on the topic:

          ...Dan


          On Feb 16, 2009, at 9:48 AM, William Pietri wrote:

          Hi, Mike! Great point. I agree.

          Mike Dwyer wrote:
          [...] I read the word ‘incremental’ but the conversation sounds more like iterative questions.  I know picky, picky, picky.  But these two words follow significantly different paths in Agile workframes.   Incremental is working on chinks of a large well defined and measurably verifiable delivery. [...]


          Just to be clear, I meant frequent iteration with incremental improvement, rather than incremental delivery. In other words, the user experience would get a bit better every iteration, but the particular changes made would be chosen over the course of time, rather than all up front.

          A number of people joining the list are clearly concerned about how one achieves that in practice. Designers, any tips?

          William



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