Aviva Rosenstein – Working with UX in an Agile Environment

[ Transcript Available ] Integrating UX into an Agile workflow has historically been a bit of a challenge. This could be due to a general lack of communication with the development team, or not feeling like the proper time or value is given to UX within the organization. Through her research, Aviva Rosenstein discovered that many problems people were having are commonplace. Additionally, she found that others had actually already worked out solutions to some of these. In her virtual seminar, Making UX Work with Agile Scrum Teams, Aviva discusses the position of UX on Agile teams and some of the problems they face. There were a bunch of great questions from the audience during the live seminar and Aviva joins Adam Churchill to answer some of those in this podcast. How do you manage the change from Waterfall to Agile? Are requirements fairly well defined before the Agile process? If the designers are working sprints ahead, then how much time are they also spending on the current sprint? Where do research and testing fit into the Agile process? Can you give some examples of UX tasks that are estimated? What are some best practices for documenting design in this process? What’s the development team’s role in UX design? How do you handle technology limits in UX design? Are there UX success measures for new products? Can a dedicated UX design team work successfully with product development teams in this scrum environment? Recorded: September, 2014 [ Subscribe to our podcast via ?This link will launch the iTunes application.] [ Subscribe with other podcast applications.] Full Transcript. Adam Churchill: Welcome,...

Guerrilla Research Tactics and Tools

I was recently in a project meeting in which several stakeholders were drawn into an argument over a homepage design. As the UX professional in the room, I pointed out that we aren’t our users, and suggested we invest a few weeks into research to learn what users are really doing. The project lead rejected the idea, deeming that we didn’t have time for research. Instead we’d just have to rely on assumptions, debate and ‘best practice’. Many UX practitioners can relate to this scenario. The need to stay competitive forces agencies, freelancers and internal teams to reduce budgets however they can. Much to the chagrin of designers, research time is often the first cut. The problem is that cutting research often results in usability disasters. With no data or insight, people fall back on assumptions—the enemy of good design. Stakeholders will preface statements with ‘As a user…’, forgetting that we aren’t our users. Without research we inadvertently make decisions for ourselves instead of our target audience. In times like these we need guerrilla research. To be ‘guerrilla’ is to practice faster, cheaper and often less formal research alternatives; alternatives that don’t necessarily need to be sponsored, budgeted or signed-off on. Much like the warfare from which it takes its name, guerrilla research is unconventional yet effective, in that it allows the designer to gather meaningful data at low cost. The concept of guerrilla research isn’t new. Experience designer David Peter Simon discussed the basics of guerrilla usability testing here at UX Booth last July. Now I’m going to expand on his premise by reviewing other tools to add...

The Ethics of UX Research

As a UX researcher for a social media operation, Ute considers different interface designs that might allow users to make more social contacts. Ute gets a radical idea to test her hunches: What if we manipulated some of our current users’ profile pictures and measured the impact of those changes on their friends list? If successful, her research would provide valuable insight into the social media design elements most likely to result in sociability online. Of course, a successful study would also diminish the experiences of thousands already using her company’s service. In Ute’s mind, this is a simple A/B test, yet in the wake of recent controversy surrounding social media research, she’s starting to wonder if she should be concerned about the ethics of her work. As a research scientist and professor at two different universities, I work to better understand the social and psychological impact of technology on human communication. Our experiments have tested the limits of accepted research design practice, with designs ranging from the manipulation of romantic jealousy using social networks to studying the impact of induced stress and boredom on video game experiences, and a host of other experiments and observations. Yet, these studies all share a common element: they were all subject to intensive internal and external ethical review practices to ensure that participants in these studies were both informed (either before or after the study concluded) and unharmed. On these two points, recent debates surrounding the recent Facebook “emotional contagion” study have centered on notions of informed consent (Did Facebook users know they were in a study?) and minimizing harm (Were any...

Leah Buley – UX as a Team Sport

[ Transcript Available ] User experience is rarely something you do completely alone. Even if people on the team don’t necessarily focus on UX, they could be indirectly acting in favor of it. Sometimes it comes from a lack of understanding exactly what user experience is or means. People with different approaches and skillsets can be valuable assets when incorporated into the larger human centered design focus. Though Leah Buley is the author of UX Team of One, she believes it’s uncommon that there is a superhero UX professional who flies into the room and saves a project. More often it’s a collaborative endeavor. You have to get the entire team involved in the process. Once the value of UX is apparent, you can exercise the collective skills and intelligence of the group and all work toward a better experience for a customer or user. Part of the responsibility of the UX professional on the team is to constantly frame decisions made in the context of what will be best for the users. Facilitation is an important skill in general for the user experience field. Introducing the theories and practices into the larger team will get everyone moving in the same direction and working collaboratively. Attend a daylong workshop with Leah at UI19 Leah’s UI19 workshop, UX as a Team Sport, in Boston October 29 will orient your team to customer needs so you can build the “right thing at the right time.” Register with promotion code LEAHCAST and get $300 off the current conference price. Explore Leah’s workshop   Recorded: June, 2014 [ Subscribe to our podcast via...

The Science of Happy Design

So much of the news about technology tells us that websites, mobile apps, and social media are bad for us. Supposedly, technology makes us anxious, our smartphones take us out of the present moment, and social media ensnares us in a dopamine loop. A Google search of “happiness and technology” pulls up hundreds of articles about how technology is making us miserable. Can that be true? What if instead, the design of a favorite website or a trusted mobile app might make us happy—and influence our long-term actions? Happy, But Not an Accident As someone who attempts to make experiences with technology better, it makes me sad to think that my work might be making people unhappy. There has been some research to show that rising tech correlates to happiness, but most studies are designed to reinforce the idea that technology seems to erode happiness. If you look at what makes people happy rarely is an app or a website in the mix. Happiness, it seems, is not a screen. Yet, I’ve seen first-hand that a website can provide moments of joy. I’ve observed people smiling at their smartphones. I’ve listened to stories about how an app changed someone’s life in a positive way. While there has been wise discussion about how design makes us happy or how good design demonstrates some of the principles of positive psychology, there is not a lot of data about it available. With this in mind, two years ago I began tracking happiness and design in an online study, hoping to understand what makes people happy online. My company created a purpose-built app...