TsoDa place written by Daniela Panfili I'm also
March 4, 2013

My “Agile” experience

Agile methodology, is on the mouth of half world, but applying it, especially to a large projects, is a real challenge.
Especially to think the interface design and the overall experience, split into small branches.
I started doing UX protyping of everything first, so the experience can be spread all along the different parts of the application. Thinking Agile is cool, but it requires a big flexibility from the designers.
Which are the most difficult problems that I faced? Here the list:
  • Finding the faster way to prototype and to communicate with the team and the client
  • Maintaining the consistency
  • Refactoring, is always for the code, but for the UI, is there a place?
  • Accepting imperfection
As every designer my sense of aesthetic takes me to search the perfection. Also if I know that we are imperfect and that the perfect design doesn’t exist, the first approach to change in agile project is this. And it is so basic and deep in us that is the most difficult to accept.
It helped me a lot finding some common part of the UI and pointing on them to maintain the consistency. And I start to think the single sprint as something “special” inside this generic grid.
This attitude allowed me to move faster and to concentrate only in the core functionality of the sprint.
I also learnt to write short scenarios, to interview the user reading among the lines, looking for more details about their needs. I didn’t have so much time for testing and interviewing, so I tried to enhance my senses and my capacity to record human behaviors and to spread this knowledge (collecting notes about everything) when I don’t have time to face the user before to go in development.
After some months this short scenarios becoming an excel grid. Personas (3 lines), tasks, scenarios, dependencies, functionalities  pain points and UI pattern already developed and in use to reuse.
I also maintained a kind of Style guide of all the UI pattern and visual elements used linked to the functionalities  In this way is more simple for me to reuse an element rather then create a new one. And when it was not possible, because choices during the development took me to change ideas on some UI pattern and element used, i just pointed out and put them in a list for “refactoring”.
I can say, there is always space for refactoring the code and less for refactoring the UI, but at least  I pointed out what, for my point of view, was useful to take care.
Here is a quick overview on my agile experience and what i can say is that was a good one, because i leart to be more flexible and to think in “small” focusing much less on visual details and much more on task’s specificity. Part of the consistency of an agile project also made by this, maintaing the focus on the core functionalists  the tasks and the needs to allow the users to make it better, then to maintain a standard and general behaviour. It’s always experience, just a different approach :)
A useful reference:
Using Balsamiq in Agile projects
Agile Problems, UX solutions, Part 2: Thoughts on Patterns and Prototyping

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