When your product is used to create things (e.g., to compose music, to paint art), how do you investigate your users’ tasks? If you are designing interfaces that can be used in unpredictable ways (e.g., interactive tools rather than screens accessed in a linear way), how do you usability test to minimize biasing your results? When users can “do anything”, what are effective, non-leading ways to limit the scope of tasks during an investigation? This presentation describes some proven tactics for conducting effective usability investigations in order to design products where either the task domain or the interface is open-ended.
Author(s): Desirée Sy
Published in: Proceedings of the Usability Professionals’ Association Conference 2006
Published date: 6/13/2006
When our company chose to adopt an Agile development process for new products, our User Experience Team took the opportunity to adjust, and consequently improve, our user-centered design (UCD) practices. Our interface design work required data from contextual investigations to guide rapid iterations of prototypes, validated by formative usability testing. This meant that we needed to find a way to conduct usability tests, interviews, and contextual inquiry—both in the lab and the field—within an Agile framework. To achieve this, we adjusted the timing and granularity of these investigations, and the way that we reported our usability findings.
This paper describes our main adaptations. We have found that the new Agile UCD methods produce better-designed products than the “waterfall” versions of the same techniques. Agile communication modes have allowed us to narrow the gap between uncovering usability issues and acting on those issues by incorporating changes into the product.
Author(s): Desirée Sy
Published in: Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 2, Issue 3, May 2007, pp. 112-132
Published date: 5/1/2007
As more organizations adopt agile development practices, UX practitioners want to ensure that the resulting products are still designed with users in mind. This tutorial teaches basic, proven methods to integrate user-centered design practices into agile teams.
This tutorial is for experienced UX practitioners and managers who work on agile teams, or who will be transitioning to agile. Prior experience with agile methods is unnecessary, and the course does not focus on a particular agile methodology.
The morning session teaches new skills for planning design on agile teams, and the afternoon session focuses on agile adaptations to usability testing and research methods. Research methods covered in this tutorial focus on eliciting observed user behavior (such as contextual inquiry, and formative usability testing).
GOALS FOR THE SESSION:
Participants in this tutorial will learn:
• advantages of a healthy agile UX practice over waterfall UX
• skills and attitudes to hone to do user-centred design on an agile team
• common errors when transitioning from waterfall to agile
• skill and activities that UX brings to the ‘Product Owner’ role on an agile team
• activities and best practices during Sprint Zero to increase a team’s success
• parallel-track/staggered sprint timing of agile UX activities
• how to hold a “big picture” of design without committing the agile deadly sin of Big Design Up Front
• how to break both UX work and design implementation into sprint-sized chunks
• tactics for incorporating user research into agile projects
• some suggestions for improving non-co-located agile teamwork
One of the toughest problems facing Agile UX designers is how to design solutions that consider the big picture for a product or workflow while working in consecutive 2- to 4-week sprints. Building on previous talks describing successful adaptations of formative usability testing, contextual inquiry, and iterative prototyping for Agile, this talk delves further, describing a framework for creating multi-sprint designs and getting them implemented without violating the Agile taboo against "big design."
Author(s): Desiree Sy
Published in: UPA 2009
Published date: 6/10/2009