Delivering a great user experience in an agile environment

Agile development teams have been seen to be on the rise in the past few years. Almost 60% of software development uses agile methodologies, especially Scrum. Scrum, per say, is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development. But, being a UX developer, it is essential to be involved and in contact with all the members of the sprint so as to obtain feedback on designs and evolve the product. But, not being involved in the core development process has its drawback and can seem to impede the benefits of agile in relation to design and UX development.

Many UX engineers also claim to prefer the waterfall mode of operation, and they seem to believe that is a better approach for UX centric projects. But, Scrum being the common agile practice, and also the primary agile methodology implemented at Nalashaa, we will be looking at solving the UX engineer issues with regard to a Scrum team.

Working as a team

UX is an important component in the overall product, hence it’s important to be a constant effect in the complete development process. Being an active part of scrum meetings help to connect with the development team, obtain feedback on designs and helps to promote trust and respect within the team. As a UX team working on multiple projects, it can prove to be a difficult task, but attending one scrum a week for every project will help you to be in sync with the development progress. Being involved in many projects would also entail a higher degree of time and expectation management.

Apart from the scrum meetings, regular design review meetings help to keep the scrum development team and the UX team in loop with the developmental changes and priorities.

The UX team might be separated from the development team in terms of location or allocation, but it is essential to be in constant touch with the product development team overcoming time differences, remote meetings etc.

Holistic approach

One of the common concerns from UX engineers is the challenge in delivering great user experience in the incremental release framework of scrum. The UX team is integrated with the development team and into the scrum framework much later than what designers usually prefer. This causes the UX team to deliver as per development requirement and push the usability and overall experience for the final release. Many a times the design is broken down into pieces and incrementally integrated without thinking of a holistic approach which will be more suited for the product.

The agile UX methodology

Some of the steps taken at Nalashaa to ensure successful UX team integration into the scrum team

  • UX engineers and design team to participate in early stage and product strategy sessions
  • Training about UX practices to organizational training practices for developers, scrum masters and product owners
  • Product owners and development team in continuous client contact to ensure user needs are understand and design expectations are met
  • UX team in synchronous and asynchronous communication channels to ensure the team understands all roles and responsibilities
  • UX goals and needs a significant part of each sprint plan
  • A channeled effort from product owners to improve UX practices and estimation processes across the product lifecycle
  • Limited number of project a  designer and UX engineer is involved in simultaneously
  • A master backlog for all UX activities for a planned approach to UX related issues during development sprints

The agile manifesto might have been written for software development cycles, but in today’s time, where well groomed and usable software is the priority, a better integration of UX professionals will help in bringing better outcomes for the business and give better outputs from the scrum team.

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Aathira Nair

An engineer by education, foraying into a medley of activities - content, social media and marketing.
Aathira Nair

An engineer by education, foraying into a medley of activities - content, social media and marketing.

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