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New to Agile Usability

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  • Elmohanned Ahmed
    Hi All, We are an organization that started the move to agile about a year ago. Our usability team is quiet perplexed. We basically work in intranet web
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 10, 2009
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      Hi All,

      We are an organization that started the move to agile about a year ago. Our usability team is quiet perplexed. We basically work in intranet web applications. Can anybody update on the typical role of a usability guy in a project? What does he do? When? Any details are welcome.

       

      Thanks,

      ElMohanned

       

      Inspection to prevent defects is absolutely required for any process. Inspection to find defects is waste.

      Shigeo Shingo, Study of Toyota Production system

       

       
      Disclaimer: NOTICE The information contained in this message is confidential and is intended for the addressee(s) only. If you have received this message in error or there are any problems please notify the originator immediately. The unauthorized use, disclosure, copying or alteration of this message is strictly forbidden. Raya will not be liable for direct, special, indirect or consequential damages arising from alteration of the contents of this message by a third party or as a result of any malicious code or virus being passed on. Views expressed in this communication are not necessarily those of Raya.If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by email, facsimile or telephone and return and/or destroy the original message.
    • Adam Sroka
      On Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 12:49 PM, Elmohanned Ahmed ... Usability experts are indispensable on Agile teams. However, like most everyone else they have to accept
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 15, 2009
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        On Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 12:49 PM, Elmohanned Ahmed
        <elmohanned_ahmed@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        >
        > Hi All,
        >
        > We are an organization that started the move to agile about a year ago. Our usability team is quiet perplexed. We basically work in intranet web applications. Can anybody update on the typical role of a usability guy in a project? What does he do? When? Any details are welcome.
        >

        Usability experts are indispensable on Agile teams. However, like most
        everyone else they have to accept a new way of working that is more
        collaborative and incremental. On Agile teams that I coach I ask the
        usability folks to work together with developers to make sure that
        features are created in a way that follows good usability/UX
        principles. I also ask usability folks to work with customers to
        ensure that the UI is acceptable, and to work with testers to make
        sure that the UI degenerates gracefully when exceptional things
        happen.

        The biggest challenge for a usability person new to Agile is that they
        don't get to design the whole UI upfront. They have to build a design
        incrementally, feature-by-feature, and go back and improve the design
        frequently to accommodate new uses.
      • Tara L. Schnaible
        This is how my non-profit has inserted Usability/UX (over the past year or so) into our Agile projects. I suspect there isn t a best way. (so take this with
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 16, 2009
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          This is how my non-profit has inserted Usability/UX (over the past year or so) into our Agile projects.  I suspect there isn’t a best way.  (so take this with a grain of salt)

           

          Our UX work in a waterfall process largely involved usability testing, not UI work.  We quickly learned that it’s essential for UX to be consulted during the design phase (if not to help work on the designs).  While you can, in a waterfall process, build in additional time post-development to address UI changes found during usability testing – for us, this is a nightmare in Agile unless you begin to dedicate full (subsequent) iterations to changes stemming from usability testing. 

          I strongly believe at this point that UX has the most impact in the design and development phase – and usability testing should only confirm that your prior activities hit their mark.  Formal usability tests only have a place at the end of an iteration (as the aforementioned confirmation).  During design and development we rely heavily on quick-hit tests using paper prototypes or sketches and people we corner in the hallway to be our guinea pigs for those tests.  Design work happens in an iteration prior to the dev work (not quite Agile, I think, but we need time to work together and collaborate via email/phone/etc.)

          We work remotely (nearly all of us are distributed across the US) – which poses some interesting challenges.  We work on designs and mockups in Balsamiq and PDF (because these programs are fast to learn, easily visible by anyone, and (remotely) a visual design is easier to discuss than a written one).  We have daily Scrum calls that often exceed their 15 minute marks (we don’t have the luxury of shouting over a wall during the rest of our days).  We use IM, email and other electronic communication tools – and in a way we begin to document our processes through these electronic methods.

           

          Not quite perfect, and it doesn’t always work out the way we intend it to – however so far we haven’t seen another method that works better for our distributed, low-budget (non-profit) environment.

           

          Maybe that helps?? Hope so!

           

          Tara Schnaible

          Usability Analyst

          The Nature Conservancy

           

          tschnaible@...

          (312) 580-2359

           

          "You can't 'demand' that people be more logical. Emotion is part of the human animal." -Rick Perlstein

           

        • Mouneer
          The start could be with roles listings: Usability expert UX designer UI developer Interactive designer In Agile teams general specialists are becoming the
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 18, 2009
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            The start could be with roles listings:

            “Usability expert”

            UX designer

            UI developer

            Interactive designer

             

            In Agile teams general specialists are becoming the norm and they are the champions; in our talk here they are the UX/UI/Interactive designer/developer; someone who has the skill to work understand the tell the story with the product owner/customer using low-fidelity medium and gradually work their way thru in a “UX design studio”.

            For an agile team, specialization in the UX/UI/Usability domain did not really help. What I see working is a UX person with knowledge and experience on usability heuristics and standards, usability low-fi tools, information structure, and user-centric experience; this person is capable of telling the story based o persona/user role needs, verifying the quick low-cost design models (example www.balsamiq.com) , designing the general theme and look & feel, iteratively adding higher fidelity designs by feature (or story, or MMF) , implementing UI elements in different technologies (JS, JQuery, Flash, Sliverlight etc..), working closely with developers, processing feedback and usability test results, and analyzing the post-release usability stats.

             

            A specialist usability person sounds like a software architect who no longer code; nevertheless, this specialization may be useful in places that provides usability assessment as a service on its own. But in an agile software development, a UX Knight is a key role for success.

             

            I completely support cross functional teams yet I see “meta teams” of developers, another of UX persons, and another of product owners as a great venue for knowledge sharing and continuous improvement on the organizational level.

             

            Hope this answers part of the questions.

             

            Thanks,

            Mouneer

            From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Elmohanned Ahmed
            Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 10:49 PM
            To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [agile-usability] New to Agile Usability

             

             

            Hi All,

            We are an organization that started the move to agile about a year ago. Our usability team is quiet perplexed. We basically work in intranet web applications. Can anybody update on the typical role of a usability guy in a project? What does he do? When? Any details are welcome.

             

            Thanks,

            ElMohanned

             

            Inspection to prevent defects is absolutely required for any process. Inspection to find defects is waste.

            Shigeo Shingo, Study of Toyota Production system

             

             

            Disclaimer: NOTICE The information contained in this message is confidential and is intended for the addressee(s) only. If you have received this message in error or there are any problems please notify the originator immediately. The unauthorized use, disclosure, copying or alteration of this message is strictly forbidden. Raya will not be liable for direct, special, indirect or consequential damages arising from alteration of the contents of this message by a third party or as a result of any malicious code or virus being passed on. Views expressed in this communication are not necessarily those of Raya.If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by email, facsimile or telephone and return and/or destroy the original message.

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