Every day 100s of online job adverts appear for UX experts. Alongside the usual job description, there is a new trend starting to creep in recently, that “demands” UX to work within an Agile development environment.
I am in the UX field for almost 15 years working with enough organizations to prove this ‘demand’ unthoughtful. I am not sure who is actually responsible for this requirement, Product Owner, HR, Project Manager, or perhaps Development team. But one thing is confirmed that whoever wants a UX expert to follow the Agile sprints and deliver according to the agile framework from day one, haven't got a clue what is UX and how it works.
I am not implying that UX experts should stop working with Agile development completely, but knowing where UX connects with Agile development will make UX, Devs and stakeholders life a lot easier and lead to a great product.
This is the most common scenario I have come across.
The business hired a UX expert to improve their current product UX. The existing development team is already working agile. The project plan has factored all the deliverables within 2 weeks sprints.
There are 4 fundamental issues with this scenario:
1- Business does not know the difference between UX and UI.
The business actually wanted a UI designer, but since they (like many others) did not know the difference, they hired a wrong expert for the job.
2- Business is too late to hire a UX expert.
Let’s assume business understand the difference between UX and UI. But they were too late to hire one. You cannot hire UX expert and push them into deliverables.
3- UX isn’t about deliverables.
This is totally wrong assumption that UX is all about deliverables. You cannot ask UX expert “We need wireframe for ABC, or information architecture for XYZ within a current sprint or next sprint. UX is about understanding the problem, finding the solution, validating it with the users and only then converting into deliverables.
4- User Stories have been written already.
The business has got the user stories written already, without UX experts involvement. The biggest mistake businesses do is to write user stories from a business perspective and not from the users perspective.
By doing this, you are asking a UX experts to work with one hand tied behind their back!
The solution is very simple, don’t force UX experts into following the existing project plan for deliverables. Create your plan only when UX have reached a valid outcome. Based on that outcome prepare your agile development plan.