Agile UX
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Everything you need to know about working in agile UX

12 Sep 2017

UX has been a hot topic for the last few years now. But now, designers need to know about agile UX.

It’s an exciting time to work in user experience (UX) design. Businesses are becoming more aware of the importance of UX in their products. This means they are realising the importance of having UX designers.

“UX is a field that’s emerging big-time in Ireland,” said Séamus Byrne, director of UX and co-founder of Graphic Mint. “Everyone seems to be really drinking the Kool-Aid with user experience, and underpinning that is user-centred design.”

Design thinking is using a designer’s mindset to solve problems for customers or users at a business level. But how do designers know that the decisions they’re making are the right ones?

That’s where agile UX comes into play. “The whole idea of agile is to get stuff out quickly and ship quickly,” said Byrne.

He spoke about the research that is usually involved with UX, which takes time. “Quite often, agile is in sprints, two weeks for example,” he said.

“So, it’s kind of challenging to see what we can actually make useful and user-centred within this short amount of time without really having done our research.”

Agile UX ensures that designers can be a conduit between the consumers and the development team. This ensures that what’s being shipped is actually meaningful to the end user.

“Quite often, there’s lots of focus on checklists and features,” said Byrne. “There’s not a lot of thought put into if this will actually be a positive outcome for a customer.”

Lean UX and agile UX

Lean UX is all about building something, validating it, measuring it, learning from all that and then rapid prototyping.

Agile UX is all about focusing on getting something out there that you think users want and getting quick feedback from real users.

When lean UX and agile UX come together, that’s when consumers are receiving what they really want at the end point.

While designers are and have always been thinking about the end user, Byrne said that when it comes to actually sending it out into the world, they have to make sure they understand the users.

“You don’t know, no matter how great a designer you are, if your assumptions that you’re making about what people want are actually true,” he said.

“Designers are optimists, we feel like we can change the world. We have lots of great ideas, but how do we know which ideas are the good ones?”

What future agile UX designers need to know

Byrne said that remembering how agile can benefit the user is a good place for budding designers to start. “Traditionally, software was built by planning a spec for months and then you built it, and then agile came along,” he said.

“By the time a product goes out after months of planning, design, building and testing, the market has changed.”

Byrne also said that collaboration is the most important thing when it comes to UX. “The tools change, the techniques change based on the tools. There are some universal, global skills that new designers are looking at but it’s moving away from screens.

“Don’t get me wrong, get great at Sketch, love your InVision – but you also have to be good at whiteboarding, and I don’t even just mean sketching, but just being the facilitator in the room, being able to extract all the ideas out of all the stakeholders and being able to communicate that onto a wall.”

Graphic Mint is running a one-day workshop on agile UX on Friday 22 September.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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