User Experience – the prime subject in our website report card. Yes, a field that can make or break your website. With growing competition, the importance of UX has gained momentum and it is playing a major role in the software development process. Earlier it was more about the end product and less about the response, just like a food truck set up, where it is all about providing the food and not its feedback. But now the businesses want to take in the individual perspective and follow a more customer-oriented approach. This has mainly happened because of the User Centric Design (known as UCD). It is in fact UX only that makes a website score brownie points in terms of generating leads as well as create a pull for the potential audience.
What is the Agile Software Development Methodology?
Software Development cycle has witnessed tremendous growth. With the latest changes, the most sought-after software development model is Agile that focuses on integrating users rather than the method. Agile Software Development technique creates transparency in the working style and that in turn leads to synergized efforts between the business specialists and the programming professionals. It incorporates a flexible approach and promotes team interactions and cross-functional environment that ultimately leads to effective solutions.
The Agile Manifesto i.e. Manifesto for Agile Software Development which was laid in the year 2001 specifies certain values that form the essence of Agile. It states-
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Although the developers modify the directives of the manifesto as per their suitability, nevertheless the core values remain unchanged. As UX professionals are looking forward to support agile projects, synchronizing UX department with software development department is a must. That means integration of user experience design with agile software development methodology is required. And this is when Agile UX steps forward.
It is when the user experiences fall in line with the agile structure. Agile UX takes over the waterfall UX framework which is quite rigid in its approach and segregates UX research and prototyping and software development into two completely different areas rather than one compact field of action. The Agile methodology outshines Waterfall as the latter complicates the procedure by firstly developing high fidelity prototypes courtesy the UX team and then further involving the software development team to process the end software product. Thus, this method involves a high risk factor from the point of view of completion as well as the final delivery.
Agile UX, on the contrary, follows a more synergetic approach. Instead of predetermining the product’s outcome, UX professionals will come up with a range of user journeys and even take care of all the developmental iterations i.e. the code sprints whilst making the newer parts of the product, testing the rough-and-ready product as well as giving the feedback. This will surely decline the risk rate as the roadblocks or the flaws are caught in the initial stages itself. Agile UX is very good with identifying issues and hence plays it safe.
The Agile UX Workflow
The first step in a typical Agile UX process is the setting up of meetings with stakeholders and carrying out the user research activities. It sets the impetus for a specific user journey through a low fidelity prototype plan for the first code sprint. As the developers proceed with the first code sprint, UX professionals team up by giving the feedback and helping in the design iterations. Also, side-by-side it makes prototypes and wireframes for the next code sprint with the team of developers. This makes the UX team match as well as lead the development team. The collaboration is a demanding process and involves lot of challenges for the UX team.
The Agile methodology UX team is posed with various challenges such as-
Matching and Leading the Developers
This is a major roadblock faced by the UX teams. The herculean task of taking care of the current spirits as well as deciding for the future spirits puts a lot of burden on the UX designers.
Another problem faced by the team is to integrate UX and development into the sprint cycle. Efforts are made to derive solutions to difficult problems along with the coding and testing of the previous codes. Working with lengthy and confusing iterations, the team gets stuck up with various iterations which lead to a lot of nuisance.
The iterative workflow proceeds at a quick pace and thus makes it difficult for the UX designers to perform detailed user research and testing. In other words, it is generally race against time.
The Pros / Positives of Agile UX
What makes Agile UX the most favorable workflow technique? Have a look-
- It enables transparency. It follows a clear cycle which brings in light all the issues of the procedure and hence facilitates solutions.
- Everything is certain and quite as per the plan. The smooth flow can help in following the deadlines easily.
- Communication flows effectively from the sender to the receiver. This makes the workflow more systematic and does not create any false impression in the framework. Teams collaborate together effectively.
- There is an increased sense of accountability and responsibility.
- Better understanding between the UX and development teams.
Positives do bring along certain negatives. Despite having a vast popularity in the product development market, the Agile UX still has certain disadvantages.
The Cons / Negatives of Agile UX
Following are the cons-
- A major drawback of this methodology is ignorance of the UX perspective. While dividing the procedure into smaller sprints, it makes user testing difficult as there is no minimal viable product (MVP) to justify the criteria. The final product may be too far from the vision.
All in all, Agile UX is for keeps. It is a dynamic workflow technique that enhances communication, co-operation and coalition and thereby increase the software product altogether to a new level.