A couple weeks ago, Mary Piontkoswski posted a piece about our workshop that we facilitated at UX Week in San Francisco, “Create Great Products through Strong UX + Development Collaboration”. In our workshop we focused on two elements that, from our experience, are critical to successful collaboration: communication and process. Mary’s post focused on the first element, communication, and in this post, I want to talk a little bit more about the second element, process.
In our workshop we looked at the product creation journey that designers and developers undertake, depicted in the image below.
We broke the cycle down into a few different phases: research, requirements and roadmap; the sprint cycle from sprint planning through to the end-of-sprint demo and retrospective; and then to the planning for the next sprint as the sprint cycles repeat until the product is released.
As we stepped through this product creation journey map, we paused to discuss various opportunities and obstacles that teams might encounter at points along the way. For example, at the very onset of the project, as the project team is being created, are there things that you can do to break the ice, taking into account the various personality types and communication styles that Mary outlined in her previous post? Is everyone clear on the project goals? Thinking about these types of questions at the beginning of the project can help get everyone on the team moving quickly and in the same direction on the project.
Then, further into the journey we examined other obstacles, such as the designer designing something that can’t be implemented given the technical and budget constraints on the project. This, and other situations like this, emphasizes the importance of communication between disciplines early and often throughout this product creation journey. It’s so important to have designers and developers sharing their ideas, even just the initial sketches, with each other so that assumptions can be tested and feedback can be given. It’s through this early, iterative communication that the benefits of UX and Dev collaboration can really have an impact on the project. As one co-worker said, “…when done properly, [through UX + Development collaboration] the client gets the best balance between what the technology is capable of, what the user needs, and what the client can afford.”
From speaking with many of the workshop participants, both during the workshop and afterwards at other points in the conference, it seemed like many companies are struggling to figure out how to integrate design into their existing agile development practice, or are looking for ways to improve their existing integration. While it’s challenging, it can be done, through communication and process and it’s important to remember the value in doing this because this collaboration will make the whole better than the sum of the parts.
About the Author
Jennifer Fraser is the Director of Design at Macadamian, a design and development consultancy based in Gatineau, Quebec. After more than fourteen years working as a User Experience Designer, Jennifer has designed products for many different target markets, including: creative professionals; large government agencies; and owners of small offices and home offices. She has also had the opportunity to work closely with various technology partners, such as Microsoft, Wacom and HP, to understand their requirements and to create designs to meet their needs, as well as the needs of their customers.