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Agile software development practices continue to dominate organizations and user experience research and strategy are more necessary than ever, but incorporating research doesn’t always jive with the established practices of Agile. Many of us are still at a loss for making research happen in Agile settings.
This session will cover recommendations for setting up the logistics to best facilitate research and specific tips to plan, run, and analyze research effectively within an Agile environment.
Introduction with a brief summary of Agile development practices and the specific challenges the practices present for those us trying to incorporate research well
Lack of dedicated discovery time
Focus on working software as measure of progress
Team structure double-edged sword
For each section I’ll tell a little story about times these things have bitten me in my own work I’ll then transition into discussions of solutions for those challenges, making specific suggestions around the following areas:
Team makeup: I’ll suggest that when at all possible, it’s great to have both a full time designer and researcher on each cross functional team. More realistically, there will be one full time designer and a floating researcher. At a minimum, I suggest having at least one UX person of some kind on each team and having them pair up across projects to help fight bias in their research efforts.
Setup and logistics: I’ll talk through some of the boring, practical, but extremely useful logistical elements of making research run smoothly in an Agile environment, including setting a research cadence and setting aside time every sprint, building a database of participants, and allowing self-scheduling of sessions. I’ll also talk about the option to use unmoderated tools with panels, which will lead into a discussion about how to adapt specific methods.
Research planning: I’ll talk about narrowing the scope of research to answer specific questions, borrowing from Lean Startup to craft assumption-based hypotheses. I’ll then go into discussion about choosing or altering methods to maintain reasonable rigor in the limited time, and put the focus on conducting iterative rounds of similar research.
Data analysis and integration: I’ll then discuss ways to involve the team throughout the process so that everyone learns together, rather than it being the onus of a UXer to do research separately and then spend time teaching and convincing the team. I’ll talk the logistics of having frequent debriefs and discussing UX findings during retrospectives, and focusing on creating solutions together.