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Scrum and the User Experience

written by: Misty Faucheux • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 7/6/2011

User experience teams could vastly benefit from Scrum. So why do so few teams use the methodology? Learn how Scrum can great benefit your team and help you react quicker to the ever-changing online environment.

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    Agile and the Internet

    The internet is an ever-changing environment. It’s an environment where you need to adapt quickly to what’s going on with the user and with the web itself. User experience teams are at the forefront for making the user happy with their experience on a particular website.

    Agile development is also about adapting to ever-changing needs of clients and software users. So it seems natural that Agile software development would work perfectly in conjunction with the user experience teams, right? Well, convincing these teams that Agile development, especially Scrum, is a good choice for them has been something of a daunting task. But here is a list of reasons why these two should go hand-in-hand.

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    Get Your Voice Heard Through Scrum Meeings

    First of all, scrum increases communication between you and the developers. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending months writing functional requirements and wireframes or doing research, only to find out that further down the process, it’s not what the developer wanted. With Scrum, you’ll be in constant contact with the developer during the daily Scrum meetings. Source: www.methodsandtools.com 

    Scrum meetings are usually 15 to 20 minute long, where team members go over what’s been done, what needs to be done before the next Scrum meeting and what prohibited them from making progress on a particular item. The developer will be a part of the process and can clarify what they meant before too much work has been done.

    Plus, you’re voice is heard consistently. Teams decide how the process moves forward or what should be removed from the process. It’s a joint effort and not just someone telling you to do one thing or another. White boards allow for discussion, ideas and goals to be seen by everyone, and everyone gets to put in their two cents.

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    Scrum Iterations

    Scrum iterations also help you see your work in action. Since iterations are between two to four weeks long, you’ll be able to see your work in action. And unlike the waterfall methodology, you won’t have to wait six months to find out what’s wrong with the project. You can see whether or not it works at the end of the iteration; giving you time to fix or adapt what didn’t work.

    The ability to fail during the process as opposed to the end of the process means that you’ll be better able to deliver a project on time. Often problems that show up in the end are included in the final project that goes to the client or delays the project further. If that particular piece failed, you can just fix it in the next iteration. This will lead to a significant drop in defects at the end.

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    Benefits of Scrum

    One of the best benefits of Scrum and Agile development is that you work less. Developers and user experience designers say what they can handle during each iteration. They only do the work necessary to achieve whatever tasks that you took during that iteration. That means you don’t have to worry about the 60- to 80-hour work week anymore. And you’re allowed to finish a task early.

    But you definitely need to change your mind-set when taking on Scrum or Agile development. You don’t have time to make prototypes of each step, to do extensive research or to test everything per iteration. Plus, you can’t look at the project as a whole anymore. You have to break it down into manageable pieces. And, every team needs to be working simultaneously. No more working on a section at the beginning and never seeing anymore of the project until the end.

    Agile development and scrum may not work for every environment. But, user experience teams are perfect for these methodologies. The need to react quickly and produce quality product in a consistent manner is at the forefront of anyone who works in the web environment. If not, users may just move onto the next website if they can’t get a particular section of your site to work.