How To Leverage User-Centered Design With Agile Methodology

Knowledge / Inspiration

How To Leverage User-Centered Design With Agile Methodology

Continuous Discovery
UXDX USA 2021

When working in companies that use waterfall or the SAFe methodology how do you convince management on the value of UX? And how do you align it with the way that teams work? In their talk, Marc Majers, author of the new book Make Your Customers Dance, will discuss:
1. The value of UX
2. How to get stakeholders engaged
3. Shift from MVP's to MRP's (Market Ready Products)
4. Using a calculator to convince stakeholders of relative priorities

When you're comparing products to make a purchase, do you want the one with the minimum amount of features or the maximum? Of course, you want the maximum. So why don't we focus on giving customers the minimum when we're creating products? It's because business goals and user needs are coupled together and they need to be viewed separately along with technical constraints. I propose no more Minimum Viable Product, MVP. We must embrace Market Ready Products, MRP because it infuses user research into the design process creating a competitive, productive, and pleasant product experience. Today, we're going to talk about the value of user research, how to make time for it in Agile and how focusing on a Market Ready Product can unify a team. So how did to leverage user centered design with Agile methodology? Hi, I'm Marc Majers. I'm an author, a user experience, professional and professional disc jockey. For over 20 years, I've been a mild-mannered user experience designer by day and a party DJ at night. I recently discovered that the same techniques that I've used to pack a dance floor, apply to user experience design and vice versa. Think about it when you go to a wedding reception and the DJ opens up the dance floor with this, and it remains empty. How well are they doing? If the dance floor is packed, how well are they doing? Well to get a dance for pact takes work and understanding what techniques to use. The same goes for building a product. Let's talk about the value of UX. All organizations have a product, a system, a process they want to promote. Can you believe that multiple products get created each year without customer feedback? The only way to build a successful product is to step into the customer's shoes, but it's down to understanding how they put their shoes on. The only way to do this is to constantly plan time for user research to figure out their needs. This will take effort, but it will lead to countless improvements that are constantly being made around the user's needs to make it more productive and pleasant. Think of your app like a dance floor. You don't want people to leave. You need people to stay out there. You need to stay as competitive as possible. That's why we're now in an economy of experience. Coined by Joseph Pine, in the beginning, economies were based on extracting commodities out of the ground. Then it moved to making goods, taking the items to make a product like a car that everyone had similar cars, service then became the top differentiator. Our service is better than your service, but now when you go into a dealership, it's all about the experience. A joyous spin at our prize wheel. Enjoy our cafe, check out our kids' play
zone. And of course our top notch business area. User experience is a constant balance between business goals, the technical constraints and user needs. Most organizations have a good idea of the product goals, and they also know how much time and effort is required. In the technical, but finding out what users need is challenging. I'm here to tell you that gathering this information early is a competitive advantage because it creates a pleasant, productive experience for the customer and it minimizes rework. So let's talk about how to make time in Agile. Investment in UX is often the difference between businesses that grow and businesses that sputter. Roman Newark, Google. Minimizing rework can translate into saving millions of dollars of development time. The earlier you plan for user research, the less rework they'll have to do later. Have you heard of the 1, 10, 100 Rule? The longer a project continues, the more people get involved and the more expensive it is to make a change. The challenge is that most people think of user experience as just the look and feel. However, below the hood, there is so much more. We need to remember the elements of experience. All of them comprise an experience and need to be factored into user research. The surface plane is the top visual layer. The surface sits on the skeleton plane. Each piece of the skeleton is designed to fit together in a simplistic way that guide the user to the next step. The structure plane binds everything together. The structure helps you get from one step to the next. Scope, defines what the expenses will collectively be. It encompasses everything from the content requirements to functional specifications and tells of what will and won't be. Strategy is the foundation of the elements of experience. It defines the user's needs and matches their expectations to the product objectives. Which are the business goals of a design. The common reason why UX research is skipped is that it can seem overwhelming. Think of all these elements, think of all these things you need to do. And that's why no time is planned for it not allocating budget or seeing the value are generally some of the close follow-up reasons. The reality is the more time you plan for UX research, the more options you have, the less time you plan for research, the fewer options you have. The key is to remember, there's always options depending on how reliable you need the information to be. You need to always be building time to understand what they need. In the standard user centered design process. There are four steps. First, you need to identify the audience. Second, then you conceptualize a few ideas. Then you're going to evaluate the ideas with an audience. Then finally, you're going to develop the evaluated ideas into a product. If you want to remember each step of the UCD framework, keep Vanilla Ice's song, Ice, Ice Baby in mind because it spells Iced. You need to stop, collaborate and listen with Iced. However, the first two steps are their most important to put time aside for if you can remember one thing and one thing only take more time on planning than anything else. When I'm DJing at a wedding reception gathering information starts by meeting with the couple and asking them about the audience. I always tell couples to add to the RSVP. If you play this song. Space. I will dance at your wedding. The more research you can get, the better you will be. If you're exploring something that you haven't made yet, you are generating an idea. And there are many options to explore. This is called generative research. If you're reviewing something that's already built, you were then evaluating an idea. And there are many options here to explore too. This is evaluative research. A few years ago, Agile introduced lean UX and safe 4.5. However, there is still not a standard method for how to implement it into the process. Agile discovered that user research activities create another lens that differ from the Agile ceremonies. So, how do you merge user research into Agile? Well, when implementing UX and Agile ensure the organization sees value in user research and creates a swim lane for it. When it comes to when to do the research plan, either a sprint or PI ahead, the standard method will allow the development team to be involved in user research activities. With a specific focus to capture users needs. We can now build a specific lens to factor in user's needs into the equation. It's time to say goodbye to Minimum Viable Product, MVP and hello to Market Ready Product, MRP. So focusing on an MRP can actually unify a team after establishing the time to conduct a user research, everything starts coming together because the team is getting a taste of empathy, stakeholders start seeing a user's pain points and their struggles, and it can shift focus in features that can make an impact. Then visualizing the research is even more important, so it can be easily digested and serve as a reminder to help make decisions that benefit the end user. So let's take a look at a few ways. You can visualize the research when DJing a wedding reception, creating personas helps understand the goals and needs of an audience. The same thing when building a product, when DJing a wedding reception, it helps to build journey maps to understand the stages an audience we'll go through the event. The same thing happens when mapping out what the audience may do at certain events within your product. When DJing a wedding, it helps to build floor layouts to visualize the setup When building a product and helps to do the same thing and visualize the design with a wireframe to visualize the setup. At a wedding reception, it's important to determine how the couple and family will enter the room with a user flow. I'll create the same thing with designing a product to map out what path
to take to make certain decision points at a wedding reception. It's important to document specifics about the venue in a review notating. Now where you load in where the plugs are specific things. So you reviewed the venue. The same thing is important after usability tests to create a usability report, the document discoveries to provide information, to help make improvements but at a wedding reception, the request list is the most important visualization of research because it identifies specific events that will shape the experience. It's a balance of the couples goals, audience needs, technical constraints of the event when creating a product, the MRP calculator has the same importance because it identifies specific features that will shape the experience. The MRP calculator is a spreadsheet that lists features and ranks them based on the user's needs, business value and technical simplicity. It's a tool to help you rank them looking through the user's eyes. Rank each column from the lowest value one to the highest value five. If the total is greater than eight, it highlights to consider it. The idea is to use this method, to determine which ones should be weighed on the feature list aka Backlog from the user's perspective It services user research in a format which stakeholders can participate. It creates another lens into the research that can be digested by the team. It focuses on the user outcome rather than the output. Let's take a look at an example. MRP calculator. Our company is building an idea portal, which will gather improvements from the users of the app. The portal will accept ideas from customers, but it will send them to administrators for approval. Here's a feature we discovered after running a series of usability sessions. The need to have a Spanish version of the app. From user research, the app actually has a high population of Spanish users, so stakeholders on a scale of one being low and five being high determined that the users need was actually a four out of five from a scale of one being hard and five being easy the app scored a two on the technical simplicity scale. Due to the fact that English translation needs to occur for majority of the administrators, since they're based in the United States, in regards to the business value, one being low and five being high, the stakeholders gave this a four because they're seeing that there's an increasing Spanish audience. As you can see, the total is 10. Which highlights and the row now is identifying it's something to consider for the MRP. Next let's look at another example. Your organization just acquired another company and would like to welcome them to the idea portal. However, there isn't currently a way to easily do that with the interface. After a series of usability tests, it was discovered that adding a modal window that would pop up as the user enters the site for the first time worked best, it would serve also as a way to onboard new users and highlight new features as they are released. On a scale of one being low and five being the highest of user's needs. It scored a four out of five since the users searched for an overview of the site, when they first logged on. On a scale of one being hard and five being easy, the app scores a four on the technical simplicity since the component is already in the design system. In regards to business value, one being low and five being high. The stakeholders give it a five since it's an acquisition. And it's really important to welcome new customers into the family. As you can see, the total is 13 which highlights the row, identifying it's something to consider for the MRP. Lets look at one more example, to make it clear how the calculator works. The organization has noticed consistently when new ideas are posted by customers, that there are typos and misspells. Administrators have continually adjusted the typos when they're submitted. An idea was posted to add the ability for a spellcheck into the text box prior to a customer's idea submission. On a scale of one to five, one being low. Five being the highest user need. It scores a two out of five because it's just a nice to have for users. On a scale of one being hard and five being easy, spell check scores a three out of five on technical simplicity. In regards to business value, one being low and five being high spellcheck scored a one out of five since it's not a big deal to fix the spelling errors during approval. As you can see the total is six, which does not highlight the row identifying it's something not to consider for the MRP in all of these examples. On a scale of one to five, you are continually asking yourself, what is the most desirable? For users need, how much do users need this? One, not at all. Five, very much. For tactical simplicity. How hard is it to build this? One is hard. Five is easy and business goal. How much return on investment is here? One, not at all. Five very much. Keep this in mind when you're working through the calculator. The MRP is just one way of many ways to highlight user research in a meaningful way. The key is you need to plan ahead to infuse customer feedback into your process. Then the value of UX research will show up in many ways, it will drive your teams to build a Market Ready Product that your customers will love. No more MVP, long live MRP. If you're interested in learning more, check out the new book, Make Your Customers Dance. Thank you.

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