agile diagram

The Agile Process

The agile process can be accomplished with methods as unique as the teams who use them, and integrating user experience methods into the mix helps keep it lean and effective.

Here is one combination of methods that facilitates the first two phases highlighted in the diagram to the right. This choice of methods works well for teams who meet the following profile.

  • Familiarity: Unfamiliar domain or inconsistent understanding of domain across the team.
  • Expertise: Good familiarity with technical capabilities and constraints.
  • Location: Co-located or able to be co-located to kick off a project.

Method #1: Reality Map

What do users need?

Reality maps can be initiated with little or no up-front research. They get the whole team started on equal footing and avoid unnecessary digression or misunderstanding during the design phase. Maps at this stage are most effective when built in person; however, remote team members can share the experience using web cam or photos.

Tip: To reduce waste, build the first iteration of a reality map with just two or three key team members, then include the rest of the team.

Method #2: Visual Backlog

What do we build?

Visual backlogs follow naturally from a good reality map because team members can simply translate comments and ideas into user stories. This process moves quickly when team members are co-located and can visualize others’ contributions.

Tip: To increase transparency, invite product stakeholders to review and suggest updates to the backlog.

Method #3: Design Map

How do we build it?

Design maps start with the user stories identified in the first layer of the backlog and end with sketches. They work best when the team has enough expertise to know technical details up front and identify reusable design patterns. Co-location is essential for this step; however, with more experienced teams a remote session can sometimes be effective.

Tip: To encourage participation, have each team member contribute to sketching.