Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Leveraging a small user experience team (1 of 7)

We have a small handful of user experience (UX) specialists, and we're ramping up our agile development teams. How can 4 UX specialists support 20 teams when the 20 teams are dedicated, co-located, moving on their own schedules, constantly changing direction, and not necessarily on board with the importance of user experience?

We had a good all-day session today mapping out how we want to start approaching this. The central theme is that the small team of UX specialists will operate as an agile product team. But unlike a typical agile development team dedicated to producing executable code, our product will be user-centered design. Each sprint will produce "shippable user-centered design." Sometimes this will look like software, sometimes it will look more like a service. The result will be a large number of teams producing software designed to produce a great user experience.

Here are the key ideas so far...

We are an agile team, and user-centered design is our product.

  • We form a small core team that uses standard agile methodologies in order to provide user-centered design services and products to all the development teams.

We empower the development teams to do user-centered design.

  • We put a lot of energy into training and UX evangelism.
  • We make it super-easy for the develpment teams to get face-time with end-users throughout their work.
  • We inject the core UX team into development teams at key leverage points in the product lifecyle.

We do hands-on user-centered design.

  • We create reusable artifacts that have good UX principles built in.
  • We provide ad hoc consulting and design services to the application teams.

I'll flesh out each of these bullets in subsequent posts. How does this look as a starting point?

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