Design and Technology Guides
A how-to guide for integrating agile workflows into UX design
What is an Agile workflow?
At its most basic, Agile is an approach that facilitates incremental deliverables for testing instead of one big reveal at the end of a project. Agile was developed to use in software development but has come to refer to a way of working that focuses on:
- Cross-functional collaboration
- Short-term work blocks called sprints
- Cumulative progress that builds on past efforts
What is the role of UX in Agile?
While Agile was created for software development, the process is flexible and can work well for UX designers. At Think Company, our designers iterate as part of a natural workflow—and under an Agile methodology, iteration is just more organized. Because our teams know when things will happen, we can plan work more incrementally.
We’ve found Agile particularly effective when building out a pattern library and design components. It allows us to be flexible, move quickly, and iterate, making incremental changes as we build instead of reinventing the wheel every time we need to create something.
How to implement Agile in UX design
To implement an Agile UX workflow, start by setting your decision-makers. We limit decision-making ability to one person from each team—this helps the process move along efficiently while still ensuring each team has visibility into the project’s progress. We also distinguish between decision-makers and approvers, and keep in mind that there may be someone in a regulatory role who needs to give their okay.
Because research is such a central part of the design process, this is also where we set the research cadence and make sure to bake in space for customer feedback loops and iterating over time. At the same time, we’re deciding on the structure for success. What does a win look like? Where do we want to end up?
From there, we:
- Agree on a set of tools everyone will use, and ensure everyone on the team has access
- Create a project plan with sprints in your chosen project management software (we like Jira)
- Establish a single source of truth for the project’s progress
- Identify possible blockers, and create a plan for navigating through them if they arise
- Establish a cadence for regular team check-ins
- Get to work!
Benefits of Agile UX workflows
When you’re working in an Agile design process, you always know what to expect—and when. Since designers are usually a few steps ahead of development, one of the most significant benefits of Agile UX is that everyone knows where the project is and where it’s going. This helps with risk management and keeps everyone on track and progressing toward the same goal.
Agile enhances UX
Agile isn’t just for software developers. While many UX designers can feel like working in Agile is restrictive and short-sighted, we’ve found ways to integrate it into our progress so that designers can thrive.
Thanks to Agile’s structure of setting short-term goals, keeping everyone on the same page, and staying nimble enough to iterate, Agile can complement and enhance UX design work. Agile can help your team work together more effectively and create even better products for your users.
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