User Centered Design and Agile Development: The Digest

Ray Davis ray at
Tue Oct 23 18:42:58 UTC 2007

Back from vacation and jet-lagged, I've been catching up on the Fluid 
wiki and found a pointer to this presentation by Lynn Miller:

Her points so directly address some of the issues we've struggled 
with locally -- and that I'm about to start struggling with again :) 
-- that I've copied the highlights from PDF slides into text form for 
easier reference. In case it's of use to anyone else, here's my summary:

The model assumes two groups rather than a single inter-disciplinary 
team, but the coordinated development cycles are kept short (two 
weeks) and cross-talk is frequent.

Cycle 0: Interviews, usability tests, other research. Get 20 issues, 
rank them, decide on top 5 to be tackled in the first two iterations. 
"No detailed requirements. No designs."

Cycle 1 for Programming group: Underlying architecture; critical 
functionality with bare-bones UI.
Cycle 1 for UX group: Design, create prototypes, usability test, 
iterate. Get more target user data for Cycle 3.

Cycle 2 for Programming group: Make verified prototypes live.
Cycle 2 for UX group: Usability test of Cycle 1 functionality. Design 
for Cycle 3. Get more target user data for Cycle 4.

... continue until everyone's put on another project ...

Key points that distinguish this from traditional "waterfall" 
functional specifications, and from a less-than-optimal "water 
balloon" UX + Agile hybrid:

  * Interface designs are completed Just-In-Time rather than weeks 
(or months!) in advance.
  * Slim deliverables from UX to Programming.

Since her outline somewhat resembles processes I've seen project 
teams improvise under pressure, I'm inclined to find it fairly feasible.


Ray Davis, Learning Systems Group
Educational Technology Services
University of California, Berkeley

Phone: 510-642-8581

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