Agile & UCD (was Thoughts on Alan Cooper's Keynote)

12 Feb 2008 - 4:10pm
6 years ago
3 replies
1236 reads
ambroselittle
2008

Honestly, I was looking for something else when I came across this just now:
http://www.disambiguity.com/waterfall-bad-washing-machine-good-ia-summit-07-slides/

I thought it was pertinent because it is from a UX pro (IA) perspective and
is very relevant to the discussion here. (Also, interesting approach on the
slides.)

--Ambrose

Comments

13 Feb 2008 - 6:35am
Luis de la Orde...
2007

This is a really cool presentation in both form and content.

Nevertheless, considering that several businesses still have development
approaches based on the waterfall model, or worse none at all, resorting to
firefighting most of the time, have there been any discussions or
publications on how to optimise the reach of UxD/IA/HCI/IxD on a waterfall
framework?

I have my doubts on whether Agile development can be so effective compared
against a well-planned and researched waterfall approach. Whereas the (bad)
waterfall approach seems to elongate development by generating masses of
documentation and getting itself attached to the letter to the point of
utter delusion and detachment from reality, Agile seems to suck the life out
of programmers, developers and designers into long hours of re-planning and
re-working to satisfy the so-called flexibility the approach boasts. At the
same time, I haven't seen evidence that one approach produces an impact in
the quality of the product offered.

Luis

I thought it was pertinent because it is from a UX pro (IA) perspective and
> is very relevant to the discussion here. (Also, interesting approach on
> the
> slides.)
>

13 Feb 2008 - 8:41pm
ambroselittle
2008

Hi Luis,

It's fair to say that Agile is not a salve for all ills in software. That
said, the "proof <http://www.agilemodeling.com/essays/proof.htm>" is in the
pudding, as they say. Last September I attended SD Best Practices East, and
by and large there was consensus there that agile is the way to go. Of
course, that could have been the bias of the organizers, but it has been
confirmed by my own experience and other devs and architects I've discussed
it with over the years.
The integration of UX pros into software dev (particularly agile) is
something I've done some thinking about, especially recently. Here are some
quick thoughts on it. Now you UX pros can tell me how far I'm off. There,
I've admitted it, I'm not a UX pro--I'm a software architect who is
passionate about UX and wants to bridge the gap between "us and them [you
all]." I think we need to figure out how to work together and learn from
each other rather than perpetuating stereotypes about each other. :)

Please note that I work at a software tools company (Infragistics) as our
"User Experience & Guidance" group lead and codemunicator. Part of what I
do is design & build exemplars (full-fledged sample applications), so this
is not all just theory. Some of it is based in experience, some on
research, and some on theorizing based on those. I have a very lightweight
agile process I use for this, and I work very closely with our visual design
group (who also help with interaction design). It seems to work, but I'm
sure there is room for improvement.

--Begin thoughts on integrating UX pros into agile--

You have interaction designers? Plug 'em in up front and as needed during
iterations. They create your basic high-level plan for your interactions
(like the outline of a story). As you build our your iterations, they have
"chapters" of their story to "write," working closely with the devs and
stakeholders. If refactoring is needed, they're right there as needed to do
their part.

Visual designers plug into the process in a similar manner. Up front, they
might want to come up with an overall theme, maybe design the logo (if you
need one), pick the color palette, come up with some initial mockups for the
design even, though probably shouldn't get too detailed with mockups up
front. As you build out your iterations, more firmly nail down particular
wire frames, they can hammer out the particular designs and refactor as
needed.

Usability pros also can plug in throughout the lifecycle. They can do user
research up front (observing users, interviewing, building personas, etc.).
As the particular interactions are designed, they can participate in
lightweight testing (e.g., paper prototype testing), and of course, as the
iterations are built out, they can do more in-depth usability testing with
user observations and provide input for refactoring of the app.

Information architects build out your basic information framework up front,
establish applicable organizing principles, any known taxonomies, and any
known architectural requirements that are needed to facilitate the IA. As
the iterations are built out, they participate to ensure their vision is
followed through and to fill out details as needed. If there's a technical
barrier during implementation that makes the desired IA unworkable, the IAs
can refactor or help the team figure out how to overcome or work around it.
Not only is this workable, it could actually help UX folks and devs and
architects work better together, gain better mutual understanding, and even
maybe build better software all around, which is, after all, the point of
agile as well as the point of UX. They're made for each other.

What do you think? Am I missing any key components of UX?

--Ambrose

J. Ambrose Little
UXG Group Lead & Codemunicator
Infragistics, Inc.
http://infragistics.com
On Feb 13, 2008 6:35 AM, Luis de la Orden Morais <luis at webalorixa.net>
wrote:

> This is a really cool presentation in both form and content.
>
> Nevertheless, considering that several businesses still have development
> approaches based on the waterfall model, or worse none at all, resorting
> to
> firefighting most of the time, have there been any discussions or
> publications on how to optimise the reach of UxD/IA/HCI/IxD on a waterfall
> framework?
>
> I have my doubts on whether Agile development can be so effective compared
> against a well-planned and researched waterfall approach. Whereas the
> (bad)
> waterfall approach seems to elongate development by generating masses of
> documentation and getting itself attached to the letter to the point of
> utter delusion and detachment from reality, Agile seems to suck the life
> out
> of programmers, developers and designers into long hours of re-planning
> and
> re-working to satisfy the so-called flexibility the approach boasts. At
> the
> same time, I haven't seen evidence that one approach produces an impact in
> the quality of the product offered.
>
> Luis
>
> I thought it was pertinent because it is from a UX pro (IA) perspective
> and
> > is very relevant to the discussion here. (Also, interesting approach on
> > the
> > slides.)
> >
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16 Feb 2008 - 7:15pm
Luis de la Orde...
2007

Ambrose,

I am delighted to hear your input and the points you raised made me think a
lot of the aspects of development I was unsure. I will give them a try and
discuss with other colleagues as well.

Many thanks,

Luis

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