Humility and humor.

As a user experience practitioner, I’ve been part of different chains in the process.

The most common has been working along-side a Product Manager.  The Product Manager and his or her Product Owners talk along the different channels of the business.  The UX team talks and observes our users.  We come together, discuss our findings and come up with a common interest between users (customers) and the business goals.

At some point, workflows, mockups, and final designs come together and they get talked through and estimates are created from the development side.  We then review interactions, behaviors, and make updates to take into consideration technical challenges found along the way.

At some point, we talk through and negotiate ways to have some level of pixel-perfection (cough) and a release takes place.

Those are the days!  Right?

Oooh, and then Agile and Lean UX.

Holy f*ck is THAT a different experience!

It’s great, actually.  This is where collaboration TRULY gets to take place.  Rather than being an Experience professional who provides specifications for every little detail, I instead get to work alongside the development team members, the product owners and really get to talk through and explore different possibilities.

It’s about taking the “Best practices” hat off and put on the “real f*ing world” hat.  (While remembering the best practices so they can be used when possible)

I was recently sitting down with one of my favorite UX groups (Ladies that UX in Durham) and we were talking about Agile and UX – and I mentioned having to bring in humility.  One of the gals next to me jumped on that, laughing and saying that the developers needed to stop being so married to their ‘baby’ that they just created, and need to understand that if it’s implemented wrong, that it’s wrong.

That’s… not really what I was meaning.  I was meaning for the UX practitioner!  (We are NOT always right, even if we’ve done thorough user research!)

Gone are the days of “The Golden Design (TM)” with its workflows and redlines.
Rather – I am bringing in use cases and expertise, questions, and assumptions – that need to be re-validated.

We gather everyone in a room together and talk about the purpose of the work, the different things that ‘touch’ what we are working on, and actively design the thing together.  Somebody from the back-end brings up an idea, we try it on the screen, and then talk about the strengths and challenges of that design and what they would need to do technically to ‘make that happen’.

I’m not grand-visioning in those moments.  I’m just voicing user considerations, concerns, and introducing results from user research as part of the conversation.  Are there tense moments?  Sometimes.  But that’s where humor comes in.  Call a spade a spade, find out if there are other ways to solve a problem, and try those things on.


After that point – the development team is basically doing the designing.  It doesn’t look like frankenstein.  It also doesn’t take a super-long time.  It ends up being amazing because everybody REALLY wants a great product for our customers and our business and everybody gets to be involved in the decision making process.


From my experience – this method of designing is refreshing… but it takes a very different way of working than I traditionally have worked and a strong collaborative interest from all people, especially the Product Owner of the team.



Are you a UX, Graphic designer or PO on any agile teams?  Tell me your story!  I’d love to hear it!

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