27 Sep 2008

Design chunking in Scrum

When I started with agile (Scrum) software development five years ago one of the main challenges I faced was combining an agile development approach with user-experience driven website design. 

Especially, as we were working on a global, consumer-oriented web site with a strong focus on product branding we needed to make sure that we could benefit from the agile development approach without losing focus on a consistent user experience (UX) and information architecture (IA) across the site.

Agile frameworks such as SCRUM and XP say absolutely nothing about the IA and user interaction design processes, which meant that we had to learn mainly by trial and error. 

Most of the problems we faced originated from a clash of two fundamentally different world views:

  • UX people are driven by a holistic approach (big picture)
  • Dev teams focus on iterative and incremental development

To deliver a successful site none of the groups could be allowed to dominate and to find a balance we tried several approaches. 

Our experiments: 

  • Attempt 1: Concurrent IA, design and development
  • Attempt 2: Upfront IA and graphic design
  • Attempt 3: Post skinning
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