Our agile approach to software development relies heavily on user centered design (UCD) principles and best practices to ensure that the web applications we deliver offer intuitive user experiences and interfaces. Agile directly supports user centered design because user stories are written from the user perspective, definition of done and acceptance criteria are built into the user stories, and testing happens much earlier in the process.
Because agile is really about serving the user, getting product into their hands as quickly as possible, soliciting their feedback, and iterating based on this feedback, we take stock in user research and feedback. In fact, pure Lean Startup would suggest that we solicit feedback before we write the first line of code. For this reason, we would also employ user research methods including:
- Stakeholder interviews – build consensus about the problems and issues
- Affinity diagramming – reach a consensus on priorities
- Heuristic analysis – quickly identify common design problems
- Contextual inquiry – learn how and why users do what they do
- Cognitive walkthrough –quick and early feedback on design usability
- Comparative analysis – meaningful comparison of similar existing products
- Content audit – Inventory and analysis of web content on a site
- Journey mapping – visualization of interactions shaping a user’s experience
- Personas – User profile that seeks to generalize behavior, goals, and challenges
- Site mapping – comprehensive rendering of web pages and their relationships
- Storyboarding – visual sequence of a specific use case coupled with a narrative
- Task flow analysis – process model of a user striving to accomplish a task
- User scenarios – conceptual story about a user’s interaction (what, how, why)
- Design pattern library – collection of design elements, patterns and usage
- Prototyping – rudimentary version of app that exhibits realistic form and function
- Wire framing – simple visualization of a user interface or user experience
- Card sorting – categorization exercise to divide concepts into different groups
- Multivariate testing – test of feature variations to see best combination
- Usability testing – observation of people attempting to use application
- Visual preference testing – allows users to provide feedback on concepts
Along those lines, we also ensure mobile-friendly responsive designs, cross-browser compatibility, and accessible Section 508 compliant websites and content.
To ensure that our websites are used effectively and that we solicit valuable feedback to ensure continuous improvement and usability of our web applications; we have worked hard to create clear and concise documentation, tools tips, help, user guides, and support for our clients, stakeholders, and target web visitor segments.
We often integrate mouse tracking software, issue (bug) collector software, and feedback plugins to understand how people use our applications and seek their feedback.