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What is Agile UX – A Complete Guide For Beginners

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There has been a lot of buzz about Agile and Lean UX. Knowing about each one is equally important as starting with either one of these approaches. Both the terms “Lean” and “Agile” are described to show the approach a company follows toward solving a problem. Depending upon individual, team, or organization level preference both of these approaches are being used.

Agile UX

What is Agile UX?

Agile UX is an approach that combines both Agile software development and UX practice. In a traditional agile approach, there is no UX practice present initially. But now as the UX design industry is growing and has been in demand for a very long time now, the agile approach is being used by big MNCs which were traditionally following just the Agile software development approach towards solving a problem.
With teamwork and the management of user feedback, agile UX seeks to bring an iterative approach to the design and enhancement of products that are being produced. There are some principles of agile called the “Agile Manifesto”, which are being used for SDLC – which stands for Software Development Life Cycle which only has all the technical steps involved to create digital products missing out UX practice as a crucial part.

To incorporate UX practice into agile, there are a few core agile ux principles being used. We’ll look at everything in-depth to understand “Agile UX”.

What is an Agile Process?

Agile development is an integral part of software development which believes in chunking down the steps and then building a product rather than completely building and then refining it. Agile divide the whole process into more manageable units of user functionality and distributes them over two-week periods that we refer to as Sprints. In every 2 weeks sprint there are certain tasks that are taken up to build and at the end of 2 weeks testing and production happen along with that new sprint planning is done. 

After including design as a part of the Agile Development Cycle, it includes the following steps:

1. Plan

To start with a two-week-long sprint, planning is done prior to the actual sprint. Proper documentation and PRDs are created to get started with the work. A list of prioritized tasks is taken up to be built and reviewed.

2. Design

Before starting coding, designs should be kept ready, so sprint starts with designing the solution to be able to code. It is a good practice to keep the design sprint always prior to the actual development sprint. This allows them to openly think and produce the best solution. Once designs are ready they are handed over to developers to get started with coding.

3. Code

After getting the designs and all the assets, it is now time to get the coding done. Prototypes are created which are tested and reviewed before making things live in the production call.

4. Test

QA comes into the picture after the development is done. To report any bugs or changes from the design during the design sign-off. All the functionality is tested and if any changes are reported again coding is done and set for review.

5. Review

Once QA gets good to go from all teams like design, product, and clearance from engineers. Things are set up to go live.

Fundamental Terminologies Used in the Agile Approach

For the Agile approach, there are some terminologies that everyone who’s using this approach should be aware of.

1. Sprint

This is called the iterations which are carried out in a span of two to four weeks, depending on the severity of the task being worked on.

2. Owner/Product Owner

The Product Owner (PO), a member of the Agile Team, is primarily responsible for maximizing the value provided by the team and making sure that the needs of customers and stakeholders are reflected in the Team Backlog. He takes care of the overall work and communicates the same to business/client members.

3. Scrum Call

A call or meeting is set up on a daily basis to get updates from everyone on the team, getting to know about the progress on each task. For any doubts or requirements, these are sorted during the call. A Scrum call is also known as a stand-up meet or update meeting.

4. Scrum Master

The facilitator is called the scrum master, who is responsible for maintaining all the tasks, logs, and everything – team updates and task updation during the scrum call(standup/update call with the team members)

5. Back-logs

The list of tasks your team intends to finish during a project sprint is called a sprint backlog. During the sprint planning meeting, these items are often taken from the product backlog. By outlining exactly what your team will be doing—and not doing—during each sprint, a clear sprint backlog reduces scope creep.

6. Production Call

When the build is given Good to Go from QA and all teams have given a sign-off for launch. A production call is set up including members from each of these teams to be there for the call. This is done in order to make sure everything during the product is smoothly made life and if in case any urgent need for change it can be taken care of without issues.

Now after getting familiar with all the information, let’s look into the core principles of Agile UX.

Core Principle of Agile UX

For the Agile approach, there are some terminologies that everyone who’s using this approach should be aware of.

1. Real-Executable timelines

When starting with any project, one of the most important things to consider is timelines and feasibility of execution. Setting up realistic timelines and planning how to execute things under time is necessary to get success at the end of the sprint. Agile UX puts major emphasis on this through regular daily scrums making sure to meet regularly, discuss and collaborate, which are also highly valued. The responsibility of the scrum master is to make sure everything is in sync and keeps everyone informed to make sure that there are no obstacles in the way of the project’s progress.

2. Integrating design at every step

Agile UX believes in equal participation in design and development. Proper time is given to the design and at each step of the agile cycle design is iterated to be the best version of it. The main goal of agile UX is to make sure that the products produced at the conclusion of each phase are not only accessible to the design and engineering teams but can also be used by users in a real-world setting, which is achieved by validating and reviewing designs at each step.

3. Adaptive & Robust Designs

Being responsive and adaptive for digital products is of utmost importance. When everything is online, people use it on the web and mobile. On this basis, the designs should be made responsive in nature so that at every update the design and development efforts are not required to update code or designs every time a new feature is being launched. The focus should only be on that new feature, the rest of the design and code should be robust and adaptable to the new changes. QA work is important for this to make sure all the regression tests are done properly to support the adaptive nature of the design.

4. Effective communication and collaboration

Just like any other approach, communication, and collaboration hold true for “Agile UX” as well. All team members must be on the same page in order for the teams to stay on task and meet project deadlines. Complications must also be managed quickly. Everyone should keep all the team members aligned on updates and requirements, also incorporating demos and feedback sessions should also be regularly arranged to encourage collaboration.

5. Continuous Testing

There is a high chance that any changes might be required or any bug might be found during testing, in agile ux testing everything at every step is necessary. Agile UX largely relies on testing and user feedback because it emphasizes equally on creating effective designs whenever a stage is complete. The flaws of a design, or prototype are brought to light in this situation, and the designers can then take action to fix them. Constant testing should have the overall objectives of the project and the business in mind, in addition to highlighting the key problems. 

Pros and Cons of Agile UX

After understanding what Agile is and its core principles, to make a decision whether to go ahead with the Agile UX approach towards solving a problem, let’s also look into what Agile is best and worst at:

Pros of Agile UX

1. Flexible and Adaptable

As already mentioned above, the Agile process works by chunking down the major task into smaller bits and then taking it up for work. This allows a lot more flexibility and adaptability in the process. To bring anything new or to change anything, it is quick and easy to accommodate. From code changes to user feedback, everything can be easily adjusted without fearing re-work or time and budget constraints as such.

2. Holistic Understanding

Agile brings in everybody on the call, from stakeholders to design team members. Everyone sits and collaboratively discusses what is to be done and how to be done. Chunking down tasks for several upcoming sprints is done mindfully, to bring the MVP and best features along while trying to enhance the functionality. Allowing everyone to pitch in knowledge and ideas to the table.

3. Efficiency

Chunking of tasks, divided across sprints in such a way that the most proper time is given to each team and each member to work efficiently. As chunking makes task completion fast and feedback incorporation easy the overall process becomes very speedy. 

Cons of Agile UX

1. Over-iterating

There is always an extent to which you can iterate and expect enhancement, but after that certain extent, there is nothing to be gained from any more interactions. As Agile follows the cycle of iterations, it becomes difficult to tell when to stop and when to pause on iterations. 

2. Losing track of Ownership

Team members collaborate on the solution, and thus it is not easy to spot individual owners of the task. This causes a loss of track of the ownership. A scrum master might also get spectacle on the same. The importance of a skilled scrum master and a responsible team is necessary. Agile UX strongly relies on teams collaborating during each sprint; if that is lost, the project’s progress will be stymied.

3. Fear of being Micromanaged

On the basis of the structure of the whole agile team, having a scrum master and product owner taking up the leadership charge sometimes it might feel like the team is being micromanaged on the basis of what individual members are contributing. 

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Agile brings people from different disciplines together as a team, which strongly stands on the principle of collaboration, and execution. Agile as an approach can bring a lot of goals to your account. It causes a domino effect, enabling stronger teams to build stronger software, websites, apps, and products by closely collaborating around a shared objective. Chunking tasks and implementing them based on prioritization work wonders in scenarios when there is a lot to do in a very short time. Sprint planning and execution work effectively as everyone is well aware of what is to be done and what is the effort(based on effort estimation done during the sprint planning). So that’s a wrap for this article. I hope this is useful and we’ll see the difference between the “Agile” and “Lean” approach in the next article!

Agile UX FAQs

1. How does UX design fit into Agile?

Agile UX is an approach that combines both Agile software development and UX practice which means they both work on the same principle values such as collaboration, iterations, continuous testing, rapid-fire feedback, quick decisions, etc.

2. What is an Agile release train?

The Agile Release Train or ART is responsible for pushing updates on the latest Features that help in growing the business. The members of this team typically consist of 50-120 and are responsible for implementing, testing, deploying, and releasing to deliver software, hardware, firmware, etc. 

3. What is an Agile Methodology for UX Design?

Agile development is an integral part of software development which believes in chunking down the steps and then building a product rather than completely building and then refining it. Agile divide the whole process into more manageable units of user functionality and distributes them over two-week periods that we refer to as Sprints

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Last Updated : 01 Nov, 2023
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