Design practitioners have developed a variety of design processes and methods to make the design process more effective and efficient, and Agile UX is one of the most popular.
Design is an iterative process, and thinking of it as a standalone endeavor with no connections to or across teams, users, and technologies is wrong.
Planning and creating a product or service takes careful consideration of the objectives, available resources, and potential constraints. The UX design process also necessitates thorough discussions and insightful feedback.
This article will take you through
- What agile UX is,
- Why it’s important for design teams,
- The principles of agile UX, and
- The agile UX process.
We’ll also take a look at how lean UX differs from agile UX for good measure! For now, let’s start at the top.
What is Agile UX Design?
Agile UX design is essentially where conventional UX design approaches and the agile software development methodology meet.
The world of software development is where the iterative, cyclical agile development process is most frequently applied.
Agile UX design is an iterative method for improving UX that combines the principles of agile software development with user-centric UI/UX design methods
This process was one of the few successful tactics that UX designers adopted where designers cooperate with other teams and generate meaningful products in a short amount of time.
It also aids in adhering to the best design thinking practices, which allow for user participation at all stages of the design process.
The agile UX design approach combines the best aspects of both worlds, making life easier and more pleasurable for both customers and designers.
The difference between Lean UX and Agile UX
Laura Klein said “Lean helps you build the right thing. Agile helps you build thing right.
Alongside agile UX, we have another design approach called Lean UX that is also used for the same purpose – to encourage collaboration to design and develop useful products in a short period of time.
Depending on workplace culture, business goals and target audience, the choice of using lean or agile UX design approaches doesn’t matter as they both substantially improve the final outcome.
And for the most part, they’re very similar in nature too. They both are highly user-centric and objective-oriented, weighing heavily towards constant collaboration and communication with other teams, with planning being the priority over project completion.
With that said, there are minor differences between the two processes, considering they are categorized as two separate processes. While the end product may be the same, it’s the journey each one takes that differentiates them.
Both lean and agile UX strategies include gathering input from end users. However, what is crucial in defining the strategy is when you gather user feedback.
In the case of lean UX, designers develop prototypes before settling on a final design before consulting users. This indicates that users are only included in the design process after the final design has been developed, following internal discussions and iterations.
On the other hand, agile takes a different tack. The objective of agile UX is to produce a functional design, present it to the users, and collect feedback. The design is then enhanced in light of customer feedback.
What this means is that internal discussions are followed by the actual progress of the product in the users’ hands at all stages of the cycle.
Designing the right thing is the core objective of lean UX. This indicates that several options are put forward at the beginning. After carefully examining these options in light of the resources at hand, a final design is produced.
The outcome is a completed good or service that is prepared for release on the market.
However, agile UX places more of an emphasis on an iterative method of UX design. The design process is broken down into distinct stages, each of which should result in a functioning prototype. After each stage, the design is released and revised, resulting in an iterative process.
The new designs add real-world insights in addition to improving the product or service.
Discovery and delivery
Lean UX is described as an approach where teams gradually learn about both their own traits and those of the design. This is a process of personal development and ongoing learning. The end result is a stunning product with barely any flaws if not any.
Agile UX is more concerned with producing a functional design. To produce some variations of the design that can suit the needs of the users, the designers, engineers, and product developers set small goals.
These versions might need a lot of work to be perfected and might not satisfy all user needs. However, the design process is made more effective by receiving frequent input and keeping the end users informed.
Lean UX minimizes resource waste, using as little time and effort as possible during the design phase. Organizations using this strategy develop the concept of the minimal viable product (MVP), which acts as the best option under the conditions.
In the more iterative method that is agile UX, the engineering and design teams concentrate on producing finished products, even if they contain minor flaws. The idea is that as time goes on, the functionality will get better and users won’t have to wait as long to interact with a particular design.
In addition to all the points above, here’s an interesting benefit to agile UX over lean UX. Agile UX starts generating revenue before the final version of the design is launched, which can be of great help, particularly to small businesses and startups.
With that out of the way, onto the next part.
Why is agile UX important for teams?
There are five main reasons why agile UX has proven to be a very effective design strategy for design teams.
Adaptability and flexibility
Agile projects don’t proceed sequentially and are divided into smaller actions or projects, making it simple to adjust to changes that occur along the route.
Any new information, technological advancements, or user or client input can be included in your current design sprint planning on the spot or added to the following one.
Agile software development necessitates collaboration among numerous departments and disciplines, so accountability is ingrained throughout the procedure. The same is true for agile design.
You must have faith that your team members are contributing to the best of their ability in a collaborative setting.
Encourages a user-centric approach to design
The agile mindset’s guiding philosophy is to prioritize a functional prototype over extensive documentation. A working prototype is something that works well for the end user, not just something that is functional.
You can maintain user focus by working on smaller, more concentrated aspects throughout each design sprint with team members from various disciplines.
Provides a holistic understanding of the task or problem
If you leave everything up to your UX designer or UX team, you risk losing important insights just when you might need them most.
When you involve stakeholders and cross-functional teammates until the very end, you can draw on their individual knowledge bases to help you solve an issue or complete a task.
This one’s a no-brainer. With a process that’s so adaptable to change, you’re definitely going to deliver faster.
The quicker you can adapt to changes in the industry, the quicker you can introduce your new and enhanced product to the market.
The Principles of Agile UX
The ideas from the fields of software development and UI/UX design come together when the designer or design team at a company chooses agile to produce a standard methodology for UX research in agile.
With that said, here are the basic guiding principles of agile UX design.
Let’s look at each individually.
Keeping track of the project timescales is one of the first things to consider when adopting agile for UX design.
Agile design is an output-oriented methodology, thus it’s critical to keep track of everything and deliver the products on time.
Designers break the work into sprints that have rigorous deadlines because of this. Daily scrums, which are regular meetings, are also highly valued. Scrum in UX design keeps everyone informed and guarantees that there are no delays in the project.
Responding to change
Flexible product and service design are required due to the iterative nature of agile UX and because the project advances as people engage with it.
Additionally, this means that the designers and engineers must be adaptable to any changes that occur both inside the organization (such as shifting business goals and vision) and in the outside world (e.g., social and political changes).
This is a significant advantage of agile UX since it guarantees that designers stay current with consumers’ evolving needs and make an effort to address them with each sprint.
Adaptable and flexible designs
The adaptability and flexibility of design in agile ecosystems is another idea that is closely tied to responsiveness.
Because of how quickly websites and mobile applications are changed in the modern world, this is especially true for goods and services.
This is where a design’s adaptability can really help. The designers must have the foresight necessary to make sure that the design is adaptable enough to take into account future modifications while using the agile UX methodology.
This reduces the amount of time and resources needed to launch an update.
Working designs at every stage
Agile UX is a method that prioritizes the prompt delivery of functional designs. In other words, the design sprints or phases are developed in a way that an interactive prototype arrives at the conclusion of each phase.
As a result, the design is continuous and cyclical, and a product is never truly finished before it is released. Before the end-users receive the finished product, it goes through a number of stages.
However, the main goal of agile design is to make sure that the products produced at the completion 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.
User feedback at every stage
The users are given the opportunity to experience the design in a real-world setting at the completion of each sprint or phase of the project. This offers the designers a chance to receive regular input and comprehend the audience’s pain issues.
Agile UX places a lot of importance on user feedback.
Feedback after every functioning prototype and all revisions is what makes this strategy unique and productive at the same time.
The design process must follow a consistent methodology and be open to user feedback in order to function well.
Effective communication across teams
For every project to be successful, there must be effective communication inside and across teams. This also applies to agile UX.
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.
This is only achievable if the scrum UX process is handled so that team channels of communication are always available.
Agile UX is an iterative strategy, and it is impossible to function without ongoing testing and assessment. The flaws of a prototype are brought to light, allowing the designers to take action to fix them.
Constant testing should have the overall objectives of the project and, by extension, the business in mind, in addition to highlighting the key problems.
UX designers can gain a lot from a method where the design is reviewed frequently. Agile design largely relies on testing and user feedback because it emphasizes developing working designs whenever a stage is complete.
Now, sure a lot of these intersect with each other, but it’s important to note them down separately because each of these principles is crucial in making agile UX a successful design process.
The agile UX process
Let’s now take a look at what makes the agile UX process, step by step.
Step 1 - Intensive user research
Without user research and thoroughly developed user personas, nothing in the product development process should even begin. That is essentially a given.
Your research should provide a user journey map that depicts all of the touchpoints and interactions a user or customer will have with your product, app, or website. Having this broad perspective helps you decide what to focus on throughout your sprints.
You produce a user story based on the findings.
A user story is a brief, one- or two-sentence description of a feature or objective from the viewpoint of the end user. They serve to demonstrate how a user or customer will ultimately receive value from your product.
User stories are often written by the product owner and can relate to any area of your product. After that, they are placed in a backlog and dealt with in order of priority.
Step 2 - Sprint planning
You must first arrange your path before you can go anywhere. It all begins with sprint planning.
To plan the course of a sprint, you’ll draw on the user stories you’ve created, user input, stakeholder or team insights, and more. Because this is where prioritization takes place, it is essential to have a clear understanding of what is important to the end user.
Sprints usually last between two to four weeks.
Step 3 - Design, build and test
It’s now time for the design team and other parties to start working on the agreed-upon deliverables with a plan in place. You would transition from wireframes to workable prototypes at this point.
User testing comes after a product or piece of software has a functioning prototype. Since you’ve already conducted user research, you are aware of exactly who your target market is and who you should recruit for testing.
Step 4 - Launch and evaluate
You can make the functionality available to the general public after testing it with a select group of internal and external users.
Since you should always be evaluating, you should choose precise KPIs that define unmistakable success criteria. It could be anything that is important to you, such as conversion, bounce rate, views, visit duration, etc.
What’s important is that they’re measurable.
Step 5 - Retrospect and repeat
The product manager should gather the team once the sprint is finished to discuss what went well and poorly, as well as to discuss any successes and setbacks that were experienced.
The most important step in the process is this one because it reveals exactly which direction your team must take from here.
Design is a continuous process and aspects of UX design are always being improved thoroughly. When a cycle is complete, don’t think it’s over.
Be prepared for a new sprint planning meeting for the following round of agile UX design, and remember that this cycle will continue until there is a perfectly functional product at the end of the process to release into the market.
How Cubyts helps implement Agile UX into your organization
If you’re wondering if this process is for you, simply ask yourself whether a better product and better overall user experience are what you’re looking for. If your answer is yes, there’s arguably no better approach.
It causes a domino effect, enabling stronger teams to build stronger software, websites, apps, and products by closely collaborating around a shared objective.
Like with Lean UX, Agile UX is an ideology and mindset. And if you’re planning to implement it into your organization, whether you’re a fresher or a design expert, we have something that can help you kickstart this journey.
Cubyts has created a module for your Agile UX design teams that gives you a template with ideal design procedures that is easily accessible to anyone using our platform.
You can now design, create, and implement your Agile UX workflows with the utmost ease thanks to our module, which was made specifically to make the process easier for you to use and understand.
We hope this article helped you recognize the value of Agile UX. If you’re looking to step into this design process, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we’d be happy to be of service!