User Centred Design in Agile Application
Marc McNeill PhD.
9th Floor Berkshire House
168-173 High Holborn
London, WC1V 7AA
Agile methods are becoming increasingly common in application design,
with their collaborative customer focus and iterative, test driven
approach. They share many common principles, yet it is rare for Agile
methods to incorporate user centred design. This paper argues that by
incorporating user-centred design (and in particular using low fidelity
prototyping as an iterative model for the application rather than time
consuming code) better applications can be developed, delivering business
benefit with a focus upon the end user and their experience.
Keywords: Agile, Methodology, Usability, User-Centred Design, Storyboards,
Lo-fi Prototyping, Business Value.
A common theme of many IT projects is the friction between the different
stakeholders involved in the project. They talk different languages; the developers
think in terms of code, the business thinks in terms of business value and interface
designers think in terms of customer experience. Reconciling these different
languages can be a challenge (Figure 1). A criticism often levelled at user interface
designers from the technical community is that they do not sufficiently consider the
technical implications when creating interfaces. A usable and creatively well
designed solution to a user centred problem may be a costly nightmare to code.
Conversely, the interface design community often argue that leaving the user
interface to the developers may result in a technically elegant solution that is
difficult and unappealing to use. Both these positions however ignore the most
critical stakeholder in any product design; the end user.
User Centred Design in Agile Application Development
Figure 1 In traditional IT projects there is breakdown in communication, with
stakeholders talking different languages. Using visual mo