IxD and the ‘Agile Method’

December 15 2009

via Future-Sense.

I’ve recently been working a lot using the Agile method – a method used alot in the software development World, but something that has immense value for us to use as Interaction Designers.

I’m sure alot of my colleagues/alumni are now experiencing this method wherever you are in the World. Please feel free to add to this post.

Johnny Holland recently posted an amazing article titled ‘ How UCD and Agile can live together’ where a lot of the definitions are given. I think it would be very interesting for us to read and try to implement this method more into how we approach projects – especially those in teams. Several projects of our’s are done in teams, with different backgrounds – experience levels, skills and roles.

Excerpts from the amazing Johnny Holland blog:

User Centered Design is the methodology by which you design a holistic product while considering the needs of stakeholders and users. Agile Development is a programming methodology and philosophy intended to overcome the challenges of the waterfall development process and to deliver clean and functional code. How can these two methodologies come together?


In order to have this discussion, I would like to define a few terms as they will be referred to in this article. These are by no means absolute definitions, but in writing this article and soliciting feedback from practitioners I thought it prudent to define what I do (and don’t) mean by certain terms for the sake of the article.

  • Agile Philosophy: the tactical, iterative and transparent perspective on a project engaging all stakeholders and members of a project team. The ultimate goal is a clean and functional product built through transparency and accountability;
  • Agile Method: also referred to as scrum, the actual development process including all the hard deliverables including user stories, backlog, burndown charts and all the other tangible by products of an agile team;
  • User Centered Design, The iterative strategy where design and research practitioners involve stakeholders and users to gain a cohesive view of a project and to empathize with users. The ultimate goal is a cohesive vision and product definition backed with qualitative and quantitative findings;
  • User Experience, or IxD, or any other of dozens of titles: the actual process of qualitative and quantitative research, concept validation, and design. The end deliverables include system visualizations, information architecture, and design spec’s.


Scrum at work
Scrum at work

The picture above is from my flickr-stream and was taken during one of the projects to show the all important ‘Scrum-board’ where time and responsibilities were mapped.

You can read more about the Scrum method and order your own FREE copy here. (highly recommended!)

December 15 2009
tao lin permalink

thanks for sharing!

December 15 2009

Frameworks and methodologies and blueprints for the design process. Gosh – one of the joys of school was life without those things. Happy Christmas.

December 15 2009
Mikko permalink

I read it, but don’t get it. I think it’s for people who use Visio. Or Omnigraffle. Me, I trust in brainfarts.

December 30 2009

At our company we use agile methods, including the scrum process, to facilitate the communication between interaction designers and software engineers. We don’t see agile methods as a way to impose a structure upon everything that an interaction designer does, but in our view, using concepts such as backlog and sprints allow many stakeholders to come to the same table and speak in the same language. This includes interaction designers, software engineers, sales people and CEOs. For a solitary designer, agile methods may not be the next big thing, but in a multidisciplinary team, I think they can be useful.

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