Expert Advice: Getting the Most out of your Agile Sprints
Five Tips for Agile UX From UserZoom’s Experts.
According to a recent survey by HP of over 600 software development professionals, Agile is now the norm for software development in a majority of the organizations surveyed due to its ability to enhance collaboration, increase customer satisfaction and reduce development costs. When it comes to integrating UX testing into Agile development cycles, however, companies frequently ask us what steps to take to ensure success for every sprint under demanding agile timeframes.
Preparation is key, which is why we asked Ann Rochanayon, UserZoom’s Senior Director of UX/CX Research, for advice on how teams can make the absolute most out of each sprint.
Before the Sprint
1. Define and Refine User Stories with Product Managers
Great user experiences are the result of company-wide efforts, and that includes working with Product Managers to understand user needs. This is why it’s important to sit down with the PM team before each sprint to craft and refine user stories that describe your types of users, what they want and why.
User definition allows you to keep users at the heart of your design and development efforts and creates a shared vision between your UX, UI and design teams. The secondary benefit is that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing, which can sometimes be an issue amongst large companies that leads to double research and other inefficiencies. When you only have two weeks to complete a sprint, everyone needs to be following the same UX roadmap.
2. Identify Key Deliverables and the Necessary Tasks/Questions to Achieve Them
Once that’s done, its time to shift the focus to which key performance indicators you’re after and the best way to achieve them. This might be through tasks, such as asking users to complete a process or to find highly sought after information, or via questions before the task, directly after the task, or during a final questionnaire users fill out before they’re done with the study.
Ideally, you should be able to combine tasks and questions, along with logic and conditions to ask specific follow up questions depending on users actions or answers, to gather insightful KPIs that inform the next iteration/sprint cycle.
3. Have Your Participants at the Ready
One of the more time consuming efforts for UX testing is recruiting your participants. This is why time should be spent before each sprint gathering participants to have at the ready, whether they’re your target audience from a panel, customers on your mailing list or that have been recruited from your site/app, or even internal employees. For best results you want to test with your actual customers and users, or at least your target audience, in order to obtain realistic insights.
Advanced software allows you to have multiple recruitment options for a more diverse range of participants, making it even easier to proactively acquire a pool of real testers from multiple sources. It’s also recommended to have more participants on hand than you may be planning on using for scalability.
During the Sprint
Once these preparations are complete you’re well on your way to a successful sprint, but there are still a few more things you can do to help make the most out of each Agile timeline during the sprint itself.
4. Collect as Much Information as Possible
With advanced software you can collect quantitative, qualitative and behavioral data from participants in a single study. This enables you to understand What happened (quantitative), Why it happened (qualitative), and How it happened (behavioral). Collecting more types of data gives you the context that allows you to understand the complete story about your users online experiences.
On top of that, when you collect more types of data you can filter down to specific subsets or personas and make informed decisions without sacrificing statistically significant sample sizes. This is important because even if you’re only focused on one type of data, like user session videos, you have the other data sets at your disposal to do deep dives and triangulate problems without having to take precious time during the sprint to set up another study just to make sense of your previous findings.
5. Test, Edit, Repeat
The RITE (rapid iterative testing and evaluation) method is a great fit for Agile since an initial study can be tested with a sample, updated based on the results from the initial sample, and retested in a very short timeframe. The metrics you gather can be compared from iteration to iteration in order to understand the effect of your changes.
This is particularly effective when doing remote usability testing since data is automatically collected and is immediately available online. Another benefit is that studies can be copied over for fast editing and immediately retested with your pool of participants.
Agile cycles and their breakneck speeds present challenges for UX testing but are by no means insurmountable with a little bit of planning and forethought. In fact, Agile sprints offer a reliable timescale that UX can be built into during the early stages of development. And given that Agile is now frequently used in the web development and software industry, it’s the perfect time to embrace the trend and become proficient Agile practitioners.
Want to learn even more about mastering Agile UX testing? Check out our on-demand webinar 3 Methods to Master Agile UX Testing. This 60-minute webinar will show you the three most important methods that will help you master Agile UX, practical tips for integrating UX testing into your Agile environment, common myths about Agile UX testing, and more!
Over 13 years of experience in management and conducting online studies, including mobile and international studies in a variety of industries.
Phil got his degree in creative writing, where they told him he most likely wouldn’t be able to use his degree for his career. He obviously won that round. When not working with UX researchers he can be found teaching martial arts and working on his fiction novels.