Agile User Experience (UX) Resources

Alon Salant ·

For the seven years that we have been evolving our Extreme Programming practice, we have repeatedly readdressed the question of how to best integrate user experience design (visual design, information architecture,…) with an agile process. As a consulting company, it has always been a requirement that we flex our process to accommodate our clients and partners. Over the last year or two we have found our clients and partners increasingly interested in flexing their processes to work more agile and collaboratively with us.

The post is the first of a series on user experience (UX) design practices for agile software development teams. In an upcoming project with our partner Hot Studios we will be exploring new ways to integrate their user experience design process with our software development process. We’ll share some learnings from that, experiences from the past and new ideas for the future.

First we have a growing reading list of existing resources on the topic that I am posting here for you. If you have other resources for us, please share.

User Research as a Commodity
Added 2008-02-14
Alex at Pivotal Labs noted this post from a user experience manager at Kaiser Permanente who describes a strategy for including regular user testing in an agile development process. The strategy is attractive because it fits with a key characteristic of agile where simple practices performed regularly produce high level complex results.

Kent Beck v. Alan Cooper
This is a 2002 article with the following abstract “Kent Beck is known as the father of ‘extreme programming,’ a process created to help developers design and build software that effectively meets user expectations. Alan Cooper is the prime proponent of interaction design, a process with similar goals but different methodology. We brought these two visionaries together to compare philosophies, looking for points of consensus—and points of irreconcilable difference.” The difference in perspective between the two is very expressive of the conflicts we have seen between design and agile development processes. Many of the following resources reference this discussion.

Note: the original source for this great interview appears to have been taken over by another entity that is no longer making the article available. I am linking to it in the Internet Archive.

Waterfall Bad, Washing Machine Good
Leisa Reichelt’s IA Summit 07 presentation on the role of IA in the design process identifies the failures of a waterfall design process and argues that an agile, iterative design process is superior. Slide 14 is right on.

User Experience Activities on Agile Development Projects
Recent article by Scott Ambler addresses the gap between Beck and Cooper by identifying a middle ground that requires UX and agile practitioners to learn a bit more about each others’ practices and to adopt some of each.

Holistic Product Design & Development
A series of blog posts by Jeff Patton on agile software development and user centered design. Jeff moderates the agile-usability Yahoo group.

Agile Usability Yahoo! Group
The description for this group provides a good summary of the issues we are tackling here. You are invited to jump into the fray.

Experiences Integrating UED Practices
In this experience report Paul Hodgetts presents his “teams’ struggles to come to grips with the often programming-centric orientation of agile processes, and their ongoing efforts to integrate their UED (user experience design) best practices into the incremental, collaborative world of agile processes.” He provides an overview to the range of UX practices, identifies challenges and discusses practices that he found were particularly useful in integrating UX and and agile development.

Agile User-Centered Design
A post to ID-discuss that presents one designer’s struggle to reconcile agile and user-centered design.

Process Agility and Software Usability: Toward Lightweight Usage-Centered Design
2001 paper by Larry Constantine presents concrete practices for UX that map to agile practices. His approach is simple and pragmatic.

The Challenge of Agile Design
These are slides from a talk given by our friends at Pivotal Labs and Satisfaction.

User Centered Design Round Table
Podcast of a discussion on user-centered design and agile development with Lynn Miller, Jeff Patton and Rebecca Wirfs-Brock.

Originally posted 2007-09-06
Last updated 2008-02-14