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Interaction designers and Scrum

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  • Keith Lancaster
    All, Customer / product owner interaction with developers is central to most agile methods. When it comes to user interfaces, however, I have not seen this
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 1, 2005
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      All,
      Customer / product owner interaction with developers
      is central to most agile methods. When it comes to
      user interfaces, however, I have not seen this method
      work well...in fact, the instances I can think of have
      been a disaster from a usability standpoint. I am
      working on a large scale project, using RUP as the
      process, but incorporating some agile practices. In
      particular, the UI is designed in work sessions with
      the (effectively) product owner, the business analyst,
      and the a UI developer. After reviewing their work, it
      was obvious that they had automated a process that had
      steps that were only there because the process had
      been paper based. The result was a UI / interaction
      model that was non-sensical and needlessly complex. I
      have seen blurbs here and there about people
      attempting to combine agile techniques with Cooper's
      goal driven design principles. Has anyone on this
      group attempted this in the context of Scrum? In
      particular, it seems that it might be possible to put
      Cooper's interaction designer in the role of product
      owner, essentially acting as an intermediary.
      Thoughts?

      Keith Lancaster

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    • Jeff Sutherland
      In my paper on the Future of Scrum or Scrum II at the Agile 2005 conference last week, I mentioned the importance of the Product Owner and the need to prepare
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 1, 2005
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        In my paper on the Future of Scrum or Scrum II at the Agile 2005 conference last week, I mentioned the importance of the Product Owner and the need to prepare Product Backlog items properly before they are turned into Sprint Backlog. That preparation requires defining the user experience and UI design is a key component.

        UI design is a Product Owner responsibility and the Product Owner is best assisted by a professional UI designer to create the design. This design flows as a product specification into a Sprint where the Product Owner and UI designer work with the team during the Sprint to make sure it is implemented properly.

        This works and many other approaches fail as has been noted. It is a bad idea to let technical people create the user experience if they are not professionally trained as graphic designers. In my last three companies, I have seen to it that world class designers specified the user interface along with the interaction model and developers need to code to it. They can collaborate with the designer to improve it but the designer has the last word.

        As a caveat to this approach, the ivory tower UI design approach is a bad idea. They must work with the Scrum teams. At my current company, the UI design function reports to the Director of Engineering who makes sure this happens. At the same time, we have a strongly product marketing driven shop which makes sure that the Product Owner is joined at the hip to the UI designer. These checks and balances are critical to avoid isolated power centers that force suboptimization of product delivery and undercut sales, marketing, and uptake of product (a problem that is often generated by traditional UI design teams and documentation professionals).

        I view this as a key best business practice in an Agile environment. In my last iteration of this at PatientKeeper it has led to a new webtop design that is getting rave reviews and establishing industry leadership, yet another proof point.

        Jeff Sutherland
        Certified ScrumMaster Training

        On 8/1/05, Keith Lancaster <klancaster1957@...> wrote:
        All,
        Customer / product owner interaction with developers
        is central to most agile methods. When it comes to
        user interfaces, however, I have not seen this method
        work well...in fact, the instances I can think of have
        been a disaster from a usability standpoint. I am
        working on a large scale project, using RUP as the
        process, but incorporating some agile practices. In
        particular, the UI is designed in work sessions with
        the (effectively) product owner, the business analyst,
        and the a UI developer. After reviewing their work, it
        was obvious that they had automated a process that had
        steps that were only there because the process had
        been paper based.  The result was a UI / interaction
        model that was non-sensical and needlessly complex. I
        have seen blurbs here and there about people
        attempting to combine agile techniques with Cooper's
        goal driven design principles. Has anyone on this
        group attempted this in the context of Scrum? In
        particular, it seems that it might be possible to put
        Cooper's interaction designer in the role of product
        owner, essentially acting as an intermediary.
        Thoughts?

        Keith Lancaster

      • A Dillon
        Keith, As a former UI Designer and a current ScrumMaster, thank you so much for asking this question (you think QA folk feel left out sometimes )...I
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 1, 2005
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          Keith,
          As a former UI Designer and a current ScrumMaster, thank you so much
          for asking this question (you think QA folk feel left out sometimes
          <grin>)...I would recommend that you hang out for a bit on the
          Agile-Usability Yahoo newsgroup which wrestles with this issue daily.
          The moderator, Jeff Patton, is an excellent resource in this area.
          Good luck!
          Ann



          --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Keith Lancaster
          <klancaster1957@y...> wrote:
          > All,
          > Customer / product owner interaction with developers
          > is central to most agile methods. When it comes to
          > user interfaces, however, I have not seen this method
          > work well...in fact, the instances I can think of have
          > been a disaster from a usability standpoint. I am
          > working on a large scale project, using RUP as the
          > process, but incorporating some agile practices. In
          > particular, the UI is designed in work sessions with
          > the (effectively) product owner, the business analyst,
          > and the a UI developer. After reviewing their work, it
          > was obvious that they had automated a process that had
          > steps that were only there because the process had
          > been paper based. The result was a UI / interaction
          > model that was non-sensical and needlessly complex. I
          > have seen blurbs here and there about people
          > attempting to combine agile techniques with Cooper's
          > goal driven design principles. Has anyone on this
          > group attempted this in the context of Scrum? In
          > particular, it seems that it might be possible to put
          > Cooper's interaction designer in the role of product
          > owner, essentially acting as an intermediary.
          > Thoughts?
          >
          > Keith Lancaster
          >
          > __________________________________________________
          > Do You Yahoo!?
          > Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
          > http://mail.yahoo.com
        • Keith Lancaster
          Thanks for the advice - was not aware that this group existed! Keith ... __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Tired of spam?
          Message 4 of 5 , Aug 1, 2005
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            Thanks for the advice - was not aware that this group
            existed!

            Keith

            --- A Dillon <ann.dillon@...> wrote:

            > Keith,
            > As a former UI Designer and a current ScrumMaster,
            > thank you so much
            > for asking this question (you think QA folk feel
            > left out sometimes
            > <grin>)...I would recommend that you hang out for a
            > bit on the
            > Agile-Usability Yahoo newsgroup which wrestles with
            > this issue daily.
            > The moderator, Jeff Patton, is an excellent resource
            > in this area.
            > Good luck!
            > Ann
            >
            >
            >
            > --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Keith
            > Lancaster
            > <klancaster1957@y...> wrote:
            > > All,
            > > Customer / product owner interaction with
            > developers
            > > is central to most agile methods. When it comes to
            > > user interfaces, however, I have not seen this
            > method
            > > work well...in fact, the instances I can think of
            > have
            > > been a disaster from a usability standpoint. I am
            > > working on a large scale project, using RUP as the
            > > process, but incorporating some agile practices.
            > In
            > > particular, the UI is designed in work sessions
            > with
            > > the (effectively) product owner, the business
            > analyst,
            > > and the a UI developer. After reviewing their
            > work, it
            > > was obvious that they had automated a process that
            > had
            > > steps that were only there because the process had
            > > been paper based. The result was a UI /
            > interaction
            > > model that was non-sensical and needlessly
            > complex. I
            > > have seen blurbs here and there about people
            > > attempting to combine agile techniques with
            > Cooper's
            > > goal driven design principles. Has anyone on this
            > > group attempted this in the context of Scrum? In
            > > particular, it seems that it might be possible to
            > put
            > > Cooper's interaction designer in the role of
            > product
            > > owner, essentially acting as an intermediary.
            > > Thoughts?
            > >
            > > Keith Lancaster
            > >
            > > __________________________________________________
            > > Do You Yahoo!?
            > > Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam
            > protection around
            > > http://mail.yahoo.com
            >
            >
            >
            >


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          • Keith Lancaster
            Comments in line... ... Jeff, I m glad to see that you place a high emphasis on good UI design - I see little of that regardless of the process being used. ...
            Message 5 of 5 , Aug 1, 2005
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              Comments in line...

              --- Jeff Sutherland <jeff.sutherland@...>
              wrote:

              > In my paper on the Future of Scrum or Scrum II at
              > the Agile 2005 conference
              > last week, I mentioned the importance of the Product
              > Owner and the need to
              > prepare Product Backlog items properly before they
              > are turned into Sprint
              > Backlog. That preparation requires defining the user
              > experience and UI
              > design is a key component.
              >

              Jeff,
              I'm glad to see that you place a high emphasis on good
              UI design - I see little of that regardless of the
              process being used.

              > UI design is a Product Owner responsibility and the
              > Product Owner is best
              > assisted by a professional UI designer to create the
              > design. This design
              > flows as a product specification into a Sprint where
              > the Product Owner and
              > UI designer work with the team during the Sprint to
              > make sure it is
              > implemented properly.
              >

              Tightly coupling the product owner and interaction
              designer makes sense and sounds like it works for you.
              I must say that in my current environment, at least,
              the *right* thing to do would probably be to have the
              designer have the final say, because the product
              owners are so rooted in their old ways that they
              would overrule the designer when the designer pushed
              for greater usability. I know this sounds
              contradicatory, but this group of users is so
              accustomed to poorly structured UIs that they think
              its the norm. I quote from one of the developers who
              helped promote this thinking: "By the time they lose
              their data a couple of times, they won't hit that
              button any more".


              > As a caveat to this approach, the ivory tower UI
              > design approach is a bad
              > idea. They must work with the Scrum teams. At my
              > current company, the UI
              > design function reports to the Director of
              > Engineering who makes sure this
              > happens. At the same time, we have a strongly
              > product marketing driven shop
              > which makes sure that the Product Owner is joined at
              > the hip to the UI
              > designer. These checks and balances are critical to
              > avoid isolated power
              > centers that force suboptimization of product
              > delivery and undercut sales,
              > marketing, and uptake of product (a problem that is
              > often generated by
              > traditional UI design teams and documentation
              > professionals).
              >

              I agree. I was completely with Cooper until I got to
              the portion of the book where he insists that the
              design is completed up front and then handed over
              (although he seemed to soften this a bit in his
              conversation with Beck).

              > I view this as a key best business practice in an
              > Agile environment.

              Interesting, because many agile processes (XP as a
              primary example) seem to promote the idea that
              developers should work from absolute minimal
              specifications, and that anyone should be able to work
              on the UI that feels like it (I'm certain someone will
              correct me if I am wrong on this :-)). That would seem
              to preclude the up-front interaction design work that
              would be required. As I've mentioned in other posts, I
              have never found it to be the case that any team
              member is qualified to design a user interface (I'm
              not talking about the mechanics of design, of course,
              but the interaction model).



              In my
              > last iteration of this at PatientKeeper it has led
              > to a new webtop design
              > that is getting rave reviews and establishing
              > industry leadership, yet
              > another proof point.
              >
              > Jeff Sutherland
              > Certified ScrumMaster Training
              >
              > On 8/1/05, Keith Lancaster
              > <klancaster1957@...> wrote:
              > >
              > > All,
              > > Customer / product owner interaction with
              > developers
              > > is central to most agile methods. When it comes to
              > > user interfaces, however, I have not seen this
              > method
              > > work well...in fact, the instances I can think of
              > have
              > > been a disaster from a usability standpoint. I am
              > > working on a large scale project, using RUP as the
              > > process, but incorporating some agile practices.
              > In
              > > particular, the UI is designed in work sessions
              > with
              > > the (effectively) product owner, the business
              > analyst,
              > > and the a UI developer. After reviewing their
              > work, it
              > > was obvious that they had automated a process that
              > had
              > > steps that were only there because the process had
              > > been paper based. The result was a UI /
              > interaction
              > > model that was non-sensical and needlessly
              > complex. I
              > > have seen blurbs here and there about people
              > > attempting to combine agile techniques with
              > Cooper's
              > > goal driven design principles. Has anyone on this
              > > group attempted this in the context of Scrum? In
              > > particular, it seems that it might be possible to
              > put
              > > Cooper's interaction designer in the role of
              > product
              > > owner, essentially acting as an intermediary.
              > > Thoughts?
              > >
              > > Keith Lancaster
              > >
              > >
              >


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