Until today UX often remains nothing more than buzz, a noble goal. And still, UX Designers are complaining about not being understood by others or over customers who are not getting their point. Even in agile organizations and those that generally recognize the value of UX, UXers fail, e.g. when being part of a SCRUM team.

The fields to be tackled can be summarized under two main areas, focus on process and acceptance.

Lack of holistic planning and prioritization of user experience

For SCRUM teams, often running sprints of two weeks, it’s nearly not possible to define UX user stories/tasks that fit into their backlogs. In particular, defining/seeing an MVP (minimum viable product) delivered by an UXer. That’s not always because they don’t understand User Experience, but UX often needs time for research, analysis etc. (discovery) before being able to start ideating and creating solutions. Nothing built, nothing delivered? Sure we know better, but we’re having trouble showing it.

Perception of UX as less valuable than development and acceptance criteria are neglected

The second and most challenging aspect that we’re facing as UX Designers has to do with a lack of appreciation. UX work often is considered as the finishing decoration. For me, this is the key point. UX Designers often don’t succeed in explaining the valuable contribution UX makes to products. Although companies have now understood that (UX) design is an important success factor and are currently hiring hordes of UX Designers, we the UX Designers are failing to make our crucial contribution visible and to leverage it. BTW For some organizations, the need to have a ux designer is as similar as it was in 2009 when everyone had to have a blog. But this is another story to discuss 😉

Crack the Nuts

So how to crack these two nuts from a UX Designer’s perspective. No big nutcracker is needed. It’s more a question of the right technique. You just have to change your perspective and at some small extent change the way you collaborate with your teammates.

Planning and Prioritization of UX

  • (To some extent) be one Step ahead of the Sprint; e.g. collect data, conduct (rapid) user tests, build hypotheses, sketch, … -> Discover & Ideate
  • (To some extent) be one Step behind of the Sprint 😉 e.g. collect data, conduct (rapid) user tests, define optimization tasks, sketch, … -> Validate & Adapt
  • Build a strong, evidenced-based platform from which to advocate your users’ needs and design approaches -> Document & Record and later reach back to your treasure of experience

Uncover the Value of UX

  • Invite every team member to give feedback on your ideas and design and listen to ideas from everyone
  • Share user feedback with the whole team. E.g. show video sequences from Usability Tests
  • Share summarized key findings from user tests or data analysis
  • Post persona posters in the Scrum room as reminders to remind everybody who you’re doing this for
  • Make all team members to users -> that’s gonna happen more or less automatically 😉 through sharing (videos, data etc.) and caring (listen to ideas)

Conclusion

Our claim must be:

UX shouldn’t be a bolt-on or just a box that needs to be ticked!

Agile and UX

Sure that won’t be easy to make the change. But it’s worth trying and sooner or later, you will reap the fruits. You’ll help your organization to really focus on the users, customers and their needs. As UX Designers you’re a key player helping to really make UX a cornerstone of the entire organization. Otherwise, UX remains buzz, maybe people already started talking about AI and other fancy stuff 😉

Recommended reading: Tips for bringing UX to the Agile party