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Advocacy and agile ux

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In preparation for the talk I’m giving at September’s Northern User Experience meetup, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how user experience practices are accommodated within an agile process. One of the main things that keeps cropping up is the idea of the user experience practitioner as an advocate; for users naturally, but also just for user experience work itself.

Initially, the question of how to fit together ux, much of which developed as part of a waterfall process, into an agile an process seems like a complex one. But I’m increasingly of the opinion that the problem is simple; if the team understands the requirement for user experience design, then the problems with incorporating it into an agile process aught to be tackled by the team when they review process.

That doesn’t make the other issues trivial, but that underlying commitment to user experience is vital. Teams who have that will do what is necessary to make the ux work happen.

4 Responses to Advocacy and agile ux

Chris says: August 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm


In all honesty I would say that everyone from stakeholders to developers, and also marketing need to have UCD awareness.

the Agile approach isn’t a do or don’t you can take different approaches that suit your needs.

I prefer a gap between each sprint that allows for developers and designers to markup and comment properly, also allow a proper guage of realistic sprint goals going forward. Use this gap to take what you have outside of the team and show some candidate users if you can, the feedback is proper user feedback, not just team members with a generic idea of who users are.

Dmitry Nekrasovski says: August 6, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Sam, I agree that the team needs to have a commitment to UX in order to be able to incorporate it within the process they follow – regardless of whether it’s agile or waterfall.

But, I disagree that UX is somehow tied to a waterfall process, or that incorporating it into an agile team’s work is as simple as having the team recognize the importance of UX. Some advocacy and thinking about what works and what doesn’t is definitely required.

Some agile practices work well with UX methods, while others need to be tweaked. Conversely, some UX methods work well within an agile process, while others need to be tweaked.

You may want to take a look at a talk I recently presented on this topic:

and this list of resources on how to make the UX-Agile integration work:

admin says: August 6, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Hi Dimitry;

You make a couple of good points there. I don’t personally believe ux is tied to waterfall either, but the traditional approach, as espoused by Jesse James Garrett most certainly is.

I guess what I was really driving at was that improving processes in general is a central part of agile and working out how user experience fits in should be part of that discussion.

Thanks for the links by the way, they look really useful.

David Fox says: August 7, 2010 at 3:49 am

Hello all
If you are interested I am publishing my Master’s thesis on agile user-centered design methodology integration. It should be available by late August at the University of Calgary. It addresses the upfront resource allocation that differs greatly between the agile and UCD methodologies and how these differences are overcome in industry today.

Hope this is of some value to you.

David Fox

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