A Design For Life

Pursuing User Experience Agility

To be, or not to be, that is the question. Hamlet was contemplating death here. In Agile circles we don’t cover quite as morbid a topic. However, through continuous integration we do broach the subject of whether tools and techniques should live, evolve or die within our Agile process.

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Reluctance by our software engineers to generate wireframes and mock ups is driven by their perceptions of agility

No Education

Firstly, an education on what wireframes and mock-ups are is required. Clients and developers alike often confuse the terms. Even I myself use the terms interchangeably. On reflection, the confusion in our team is probably driven by my conflicting usage. Now is the time to make up for past sins.

Mind Eraser

I am by no means a designer. I have developed an appreciation for sketching screens through years of UI development. Far from having the top tools to create wireframes, I normally start by sketching option on a whiteboard and emailing the pictures. It takes a level of empathy for me to understand the motivations for considering these artifacts anti-agile.

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Rather than immediately criticise, lets consider what experiences have driven thoughts that wireframes are “not agile”

Little Changes

Another fallacy driving these opinions is that wireframes are difficult to change. Linked to the all or nothing conjecture, it is perceived that swapping parts of the screen cannot be easily done. In this instance, evaluating numerous chart options with clients seemed challenging as it was believed they could not be swapped out. Therefore a decision was made without engaging users.

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You’ll often find me with headphones on dancing in front of a whiteboard sketching my ideas out, much to the annoyance of my colleagues

Draw the Line

There is still work to do to get buy in from our developers that sketches are a critical element in their client engagement. Looking forward, I envisage creation of mock up and prototypes without debate. They can help address some of our ongoing challenges in enforcing consistent design and common styling. Mock-up software such as Sketch has powerful capabilities to generate style sheets from designs. Automating our centralised style sheet changes would greatly reduce our current review overhead. With developers rushing to write code, it is important to highlight the output mock-ups can have in making time to develop more streamlined.

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One day, once wireframes are established, mock ups could help us further engage with our clients

Lead software engineer with a strong interest in Agile, UX and Usability. Lover of cooking, tea, photography and gin!

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