Design thinking with Agile methods – How a user-centric thinking is making all the difference

Design thinking with Agile methods – How a user-centric thinking is making all the difference

With the advent of the so-called “sophisticated digital technologies”, traditional way people communicate, collaborate and do business has changed a lot. While some organizations have already embarked on transformation, others are struggling to get off the ground and take their changes on the digital economy and this new way of dealing with their clients.

Even though 87% of companies believe digital will disrupt their industry, only 44% are ready for projected disruption due to digital trends, according to a major report from Deloitte.

>>> How to create a culture of digital business transformation

In this scenario, there is a vital area to be considered which is UI / UX design thinking. In fact, in the last few years, there has been a huge number of traditional UI designers (user interface designers) that are pursuing UX designer roles (user experience). And, with the spot being turned into digital transformation, the fact is that UX is the right answer to provide the one and only digital experience everybody is looking for.

UI versus UX…

What are we talking about when we point UI?

User Interface is the design work made on interfaces, referring to the visual design with which we interact in applications, sites and systems such as ATMs and CRM software; it comes as a part of the study of user behavior we call UX.

What is UX?

We mean User Experience or the same is to say understanding users’ behaviors, aiming to improve the experience with any kind of products, digital or not. UX also means business terms, because it helps analyze if the goals are being accomplished and what must be done in that case.

In more practical terms, it is only fair to say that the work made on UI refers to the design, using the wireframes proposed by the Information Architect and the interaction flows created by the Interaction Designer. From there, we project the visual design and assemble navigable prototypes that will serve as material for user testing. Finally, it is also important to design some “Style Guides” to orient software engineers for them to program the final product clients will be using.

Adding a UX/UI designer to the team structure ensures the needs of the customer are being considered and that the result exceeds their expectations.

On the other hand, UX’s work may take several approaches, and so we can be more focused on metrics or more context-oriented; but amongst the most common deliverables are interviews with stakeholders, to understand the company’s objectives; talks with users to understand their needs or heuristic analysis.

The UX designers may also create some personas, helping them to understand who are they building the product for and formulate the consumer’s journey showing where and at what points of contact they may be good at implementing marketing strategies. But this work can’t be done by anybody.

Being specialized is key

According to the Digital Transformation Foundation Playbook, it is said that, in the area of UX/UI Designer, “understanding the customer journey and developing an optimized experience requires specialized skills”. That is why adding a UX/UI designer to the team structure ensures the needs of the customer are being considered and that the result exceeds their expectations.

As a matter of fact, the UX/UI designer provides a clickable prototype that visually demonstrates the look and feel of the user experience, thereby increasing the understanding of the application’s value. Most importantly, this role maps the customer journey, so it is why good UX/UI designers have analytical minds and are pragmatic thinkers.

If a company is looking for this kind of professional, they must have in mind designers with a UI and UX background. Apart from that, it might be a good idea also look for candidates with psychology or journalism degrees. Why? Because they tend to be investigators who ask questions. And “asking questions” is a critical step to improve the customer journey.

In fact, a good UX designer will start by asking a bunch of questions, to drill down on different angles of the problem before the product development and that is key to the success of all project.

Custom software development

UX Skills all must embrace

Core skills every good UX designer should embrace to be a successful professional:

1. Understand Usability

This knowledge is indispensable for any good UX designer, so go for it and read a lot about usability. There are a large group of components, guidelines, and laws designed to help create good usability and it is a matter of looking for it.

2. Empathy for Users

Remember that yours is not the only perspective to have under consideration; look around and assure the ability to instantiate someone else’s perspective. To help you do that, create personas and plan behavior hypotheses so you can test them out.

3. Train User Research and Testing

Do it one, two, three, four times… or as many as you need to become efficient; learn how to conduct user research and practice a lot. From there, you can and must use the research to support your design decisions and test your solutions.

4. Analytical and Critical Thinking is Mandatory

There is always an explanation for the things users do; they don’t act “because”. So, it is important for a UX designer to adopt an analytical and critical perspective of things and to think about the variables in the client`s environments that could affect an outcome.

Analyze information to figure underlying context and constraints and, above all, feel comfortable with complexity so you can find ways to simplify it.

5. Domain the Knowledge of Your Business

You should immerse in the business, study its goals, its target customers, its tools, and media. Besides that, learn about web patterns if you’re building a website or about lingo if we are talking about the insurance industry.

Design Thinking and Agile: A great combination for Effective Innovation

Being Agile is more than a trend

Although nobody doubts that design thinking and Agile methodology are two different concepts, the fact is that they complement each other and work to strengthen the innovation process inside organizations. Agile methodology focusses on project execution so that is why planning is usually done in nuggets. On the other hand, design thinking focuses on creativity and innovation, being a people-centric approach that studies which are the user needs and works on the most creative solutions to meet them.

IDC says that 30 to 35% of IT projects fail! To prevent these numbers, organizations most turn to Agile methodologies as it improves success rates by almost double because it assures better collaboration and communication. Yet, Agile only provides a way to solve problems but finding out which is the right problem to solve is a job for design thinking.

Combining both requires a culture shift and a new way of thinking and doing things. In this area OutSystems solutions may help a lot; from simple wireframes to interactive, engaging, full-colour, full-fledged prototypes, a variety of UX tools can be integrated in the OutSystems ecosystem to test concepts during the design of sophisticated user experiences.

At the end of the day, you are only improving work, software development and having better mockups.

Adjusting for Digital Experiences with OutSystems

Mobile Application Initiation – After initial functional and non-functional requirements, high-level features, and target devices are captured, it is time to define the user stories and build a backlog.
Responsible: Product Owner
Consulted: Business User or Users

Mockups – Low and High Fidelity – During the MVP definition phase, ideas should be presented first with low-fidelity mockups. Some of the mockups should be taken to high-fidelity so that project stakeholders can be aligned with the vision for the application.
Responsible: UX/UI Designer Acting as Customer Journey Designer
Consulted: Business User or Users

Customer Journey – During the MVP definition phase, it is necessary to define the journey, the multi-touchpoint mapping, the experience map value, and the business value metrics.
Responsible: UX/UI Designer Acting as Customer Journey Designer
Accountable: Product Owner
Consulted: Business User or Users

Put in Place Look and Feel – During the MVP definition phase, it is necessary to implement the look and feel based on the high-fidelity mockups. This will give a vision for how the application will look in the future and allow a faster development process.
Responsible: Front-end Developer
Accountable: Tech Lead
Consulted: UX/UI Designer Acting as Customer Journey Manager

The right partner to embrace

If this is what you are looking for your business, don’t hesitate to contact Blue Screen and its expert teams. According to the Digital Transformation Foundation Playbook by OutSystems, we fulfill the requirements of a Centre of Excellence in the area, due to our credentials and capabilities and we are at your disposal to answer all the doubts and start a project together. Get in touch with us.