Integrating Design into your Agile Process

Thow yourself back to 2001, a bunch of developers pooled together and published the ‘agile manifesto’, following a whole lot of frustration with various software projects. Whether they were too slow, or just a bit too complicated, the bottom line was they weren’t good enough. So, they took matters into their own hands and created the Agile process.

Where projects were previously organised in a linear fashion. Now, the first step was to analyse the problem and write a specification. Next, was the design and development planning process. The previous softwares were programmed according to these plans, tested (most of the time only functional testing, too), but this whole process was incredibly lengthy and only overseen by experts, not by users or the business side. This meant that any other issues were only identified right at the end, a lot of the time meaning everything had to be created again from scratch.

So, what is the agile process?

The agile process allows phases to run parallel to each other. Meaning that the design, development and testing is all done at once. Divide and conquer!

By dividing the product into smaller, independent parts these can be tested a lot quicker and any amendments can be made without having to start everything from scratch.

Quicker results! Saving a lot of people time and money.

Where does UX come in?

UX design and research methods have led to the ability to be able to build more agile processes. Here are the three ways in which UX really comes into play:

 

Identifying problems

Problems can be identified in an existing software or in the user’s life, thanks to the UX research process. Meaning the functions are developed based off real user demands.

 

Testing

Building prototypes is one of the best ways to be able to try out multiple ideas at any one time. Rather than doing things one by one, you can draw up multiple prototypes, which as they’re only in their basic form are a lot easier to make changes to.

You can then gain feedback, fast, from users and move on quickly and efficiently without any real loss of time/energy.

 

Communication

By involving the whole team in the process, UX designers connect everyone and everything together, by involving everyone in the decision-making process you’re able to come at your project with fresh eyes and mind-sets.

How can we integrate the two together?

Where a lot of companies fail to realize is that design goes a lot further than the initial project before the development phase. It’s a much a larger process which follows the product throughout its whole lifetime.

Designers and developers come hand in hand, apart from at the very beginning when only UX Designers are necessary.

A lot of the time it is a lot faster to design a new feature than it is to develop it. So, the first step to maintaining a good design/developer relationship is to take care of the co-ordination between the two departments. They need to co-operate to succeed.

The design process also needs co-operation from the rest of the team. A design can only be agile if it can involve everybody.

Developers can tell if an idea is too difficult to build, business leaders can settle clear business goals and help to outline focus points during the design process and customers are vital for testing. So, whether you get real life customers to test your product, or those that deal with customers on a regular basis, this part is an absolute must.