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How UX Testing and the Agile Philosophy can work together for top results

In this guestblog, the guys over at Userlytics testing tool explain how user experience testing and Agile combine to create powerful UIs, with a little help from wireframes and prototypes.

UX Design can be a confusing concept. Design is usually associated with creativity, colors and art, and although UX Design does involve some of these aspects, it’s mainly about the functionality of a product, rather than its aesthetic. This can get even more complicated when you talk about adding Agile methodologies to the mix!

So before we dive into how Agile management techniques can improve the development and design process of user-friendly products, let’s go over the basics of User Experience Design and Agile Project Management.

What is User Experience (UX)?

The overall experience a user has interacting with a product. This experience can be good or bad.

What is UX Design?

The process of creating digital or physical products that are delightful, intuitive and easy for users to interact with.

“UX Design (is) the process used to determine what the experience will be like when a user interacts with your product”. Lauren Klein, Author of UX Lean Startups

What is a UX Designer?

UX designers are responsible for designing the user experience. UX designers have to understand who they are designing the product for in order to create a product that works with the user instead of against them.


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Examples of Disciplines of UX Design

  • Interaction Design: Designing interfaces that are based on behaviors so that interactions are compatible with users behaviors.
  • Information Architecture: Arranging software information so that it is understandable for users.
  • Visual Design: A hybrid between graphic and UX design; visual design focuses on defining a brand’s image.
  • Human-Computer Interaction: Focuses on making computer language comprehensible for human users.

What is the Agile Methodology?

Any Webster Dictionary will tell you that the definition of agility is the ability to move quickly and easily. But what does agility mean in a product development context?

For software developers and technical project managers, ‘agile’ involves breaking a project into manageable chunks that can be tackled consecutively and quickly – iterative software development. Agile development projects depend on tactics such as wireframing, interactive prototyping and monthly sprints to ensure they move quickly, stay flexible and maintain efficiency across the design-development team.

Agile UX design combines creating delightful, intuitive and easy to use products and speedy iterative software development without sacrificing the integrity of one process or the other.

How Does Agile UX Design Improve the Product Development Process?

Agile UX design environments allow teams to work with more speed and efficiency. The Agile Methodology Combined With UX Design allows for:

  • Teams to identify and tackle software issues sooner and with more efficiency.
  • More accurate deadlines and time estimates and so that teams are more likely to complete their given tasks on time. Developers are more aware of what they can realistically achieve in a given sprint (until of time).
  • Better communication between team members.
  • More focused efforts. Agile UX design breaks down the development process into smaller parts with smaller teams so that there is room for better communication between team members.

What are The Challenges Associated with Agile UX Design?

Learning Curve

Implementing Agile UX Design involves a learning curve that your whole team has to go through. It’s worth it to work past the learning curve because the product development process will eventually move quicker and with more efficiency than before.

Lack of Understanding from Organizations

Although the product development team may be getting into the groove of things, there tends to be a lack of support and understanding from executive and managers that Agile UX design takes time to implement.

“Our group is embracing Agile, but our organization is not there yet. We’ve had a couple of Agile coaches, but the coaches were not great at swaying senior management. They didn’t have an impact to get senior management onboard.” Mandy, Senior Programmer Analyst

Lack of Resources

Due to the lack of executive understanding, their is also a lack of resources. A lack of resources results in shortcuts in the development process which can lead to more errors and inferior designs.

Lack of Agile UX Testing

Lack of support and lack or resources lead to a lack of user research and usability testing. The UX testing stage is a very important step in the product development process and if overlooked, can be detrimental to the success of the finished product.

What is UX Testing?

UX testing, also known as user or usability testing, is when an organization releases the prototype of the product they are working on so that select customers can use and interact with the prototype. The results of UX testing reveals to product developers what about their design works and what about it doesn’t work. Developers can then make any appropriate changes to the design to improve the user experience. UX testing can be done live in a test lab or remotely with a tool like Userlytics. It’s a quick, cheap and flexible form of UX testing.

Combining UX testing with the Agile methodology is tricky because the testing stage can be a multi-day, multi-dollar process and the Agile methodology is about speedy development. Remote user testing is an ideal way to bring these two approaches together. Check out these 6 pro-tips for UX testing during an Agile design process.

1. Find the Right Customers
Finding the right customers for your product testing is crucial. If you don’t find customers that are actually going to be using your product then your are not optimizing your user experience testing. However, the process of finding your target customer can be time and money- consuming.

Remote user testing helps with the timely process of recruiting customers. You can post the invitation to participate in the test online or via email. You can also look into using a third party service to find your target customers. No matter where your user testers are based, remote user testing technology allows you to watch and listen to participants, anywhere in the world, as they conduct usability tasks, answer questions, react to stimuli and interact with your prototype or production assets.

2. Start Small
According to Jakob Nielsen, the optimal user experience sample group size is no more than 5 participants (although even Nielsen goes back and forth on this one!) A small sample group is enough to validate if the product provides the user experience that the developers were aiming for. This option is also the cheapest.

3. Decide on Your Test Day
Pick a day of the week and label it ‘test day’ so that your team knows that once a week you will be testing the product. Planning a test day helps with your team’s workflow by setting a goal to work towards every week. Your team will know that they need to have a new stage of the product finished by ‘test day’ so that a new user experience test can be performed.

4. Invite Stakeholders
Invite all relevant stakeholders to view testing day. This includes engineers, product developers, executives, and managers. Grant all relevant stakeholders access so that the improvement process can begin right away.

5. Test All Stages of Development
Test every stage of the development process so that your team can make necessary changes to the product as they go. This fits well the agile’s iterative methodology.

6. Return Results Quickly
‘Results day’ should follow shortly after ‘test day.’ It’s important to get feedback to the team quickly. Avoid fancy formats or layouts, just provide the basic finding of the testing to give your team an idea of what they need to work on. Tools such as Userlytics allow for your team and/or any relevant stakeholders to have access to the UX design test results thanks to features such as hyperlinked in-video annotation/transcription capability, project-based login credential feature for selectively sharing of results, and possibility for relevant stakeholders to download individual user testing videos and use and customize as needed.

Conclusion

Agile UX testing poses some challenges to traditional user experience testing methods. However, with the right mindset and our 6 tips, Agile UX testing can really help improve the efficiency or your product development process.

Cassandra is Marketing Lead at Justinmind