Agile

A few years back, I read Indi Young’s Mental Models – Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior. I was inspired by the detailed and methodical process she outlined to better understand a customer “problem space”.

Unfortunately, it’s not always practical for scrum teams to allocate several sprints to research and map a mental model of the customer. And Indi will tell you “Research Doesn’t Fit into Fast-Spinning Cycles”. 

So how do you get some of the directional goodness of mental model into your sprint? Continue reading Include Customer Statements in Your User Stories

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I just finished watching Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview and I wanted to share an excerpt that is particularly relevant to product designers. The interview was filmed in 1995, 18 months before Steve Jobs returned to Apple and well, you know the rest. In this excerpt, Steve Jobs shares his views on product design team culture and dynamics.
If you like the excerpt, I suggest buying the DVD.


This excerpt had additional meaning for me. A few years ago I had created some polished stone icons for OSX under the GNU public license. Apple contacted me about using the icons and I donated the set to their product development team.

I never understood their interest but interesting coincidence nonetheless.

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In an agile organization, the User Story replaces traditional requirement documentation. While traditional requirements like functional or user interface specifications try to be as detailed as possible, User Stories break down the business requirements into the smallest piece of business value that a development team can deliver within an iteration.

That said, there is an art to writing effective user stories and UX designers cannot simply rename their User Interface Specifications to User Stories. Use the following guidelines to consistently deliver requirements that can be easily understood by your development teams. Continue reading A guide to Writing Effective User Stories

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A few years back, I was leading an integrated UX practice in a well known Digital Ad Agency. We had dedicated UX designers aligned to development teams. Each UX designer took on the responsibilities of Product Owner working with Product Managers and Customers, kicking off sprints, running grooming sessions and facilitating collaborative requirements discovery with their dedicated development teams.

Here is a short video demonstrating the work and outcome of “Sprint 0” for a new product.

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“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” That was the advice of Arthur BrisbaneEditor The Syracuse Post Standard March 28, 1911. Despite originally referring to newsprint, the adage still holds true in the digital age.

Sketching for understanding” is an efficient and effective way to gather tons of ideas in a short period of time while cultivating shared understanding across agile teams.With the right structure and active participation, sketching with Scrum teams can really pay dividends throughout the release life cycle.

Use the following guide to help plan and facilitate your next agile sketching session. Continue reading Agile UX – Sketching and Scrum

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Finding the right terminology for a product’s features and content can be challenging. This can be especially challenging if the original taxonomy evolved within a highly specialized group or culture. Terminology born under these circumstances can easily be considered jargon and completely foreign to others outside the group.So how do we avoid terms that can be considered jargon? Continue reading Name That Thing Exercise

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Spitwads is a general-purpose brainstorming workshop designed to elicit ideas, achieve group consensus and identify follow-up action items.

– from sourcemaking.com – The guys from the 56 Geeks Project

Start with a question

Pose a question to the group, like “How can we improve performance of X?” or “What is the most important thing we are missing in our process?” The question should be thought provoking and open ended.

Continue reading Spitwad Brainstorm – Facilitator Guide

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Many Agile organizations often start requirements with the “User Story” assuming the user is whomever they imagine the user to be. The problem with this assumption is that each member of the scrum team is imagining the same person. Here is a great presentation from Alice Toth, Senior User Experience Designer, Pathfinder Development, that walks us through an approach that will ground the scrum with a shared understanding of whom they’re building the software for.

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