How do you use a UX designer on an agile project?
Scrum doesn’t dictate how you’re going to use a user experience (UX) designer. What scrum dictates is at the end of the sprint we want to have fully built product that is potentially shippable. We work with some of the largest sites in the world where aesthetic design means everything. We often run our UX teams as their own scrum team, and the reason that I like to do that is many times people will take one person, they’ll put them on a development team as a UX designer and this person is now responsible for doing information architecture, aesthetic design, content strategy and these are very different skills. In fact, many times they’re conflicting skills.
I personally like to do competitive design. I like for the UX team to be larger and generate a lot of ideas within the sprint time box. Because we’re running those iterations, it doesn’t mean that the engineering team is waiting. What I’m going tell them is, “I want you to start building out the high-risk engineering from day one just using gray screens.” Whenever the aesthetic design is approved, now we’re starting at the 80% mark and we’re just applying aesthetic design to what is already working engineering (i.e. functionality). Many times what will happen is the organization will wait until they’ve signed off on aesthetic design before the engineering team even begins. So, you’re starting at 0%. So, with these projects we can accelerate them simply by running these as parallel processes–and we do want these to be parallel processes to accelerate the project.