In today’s world nearly every IT team works in Scrum. This framework seems to be so well known and discussed that there should be no doubt who is doing what during every sprint. However, I get the impression that not enough is said about the role of the UX designer in this process, who of course is part of the development team, but he works… a little different. This article is dedicated to Product managers, Product owners and also to UX designers who want to improve some processes in their company.
UX doesn’t just work on things related to the current sprint
Firstly, during the current sprint UX designers need to support the whole development team but they also iterate and deliver designs for the next sprint. Moreover, they ideate, prototype and test things for upcoming sprints. UX designers should understand business opportunities and research user problems. Working closely with the Product owner, they think about the future of the product.
UX activities should be included in the backlog
Activities presented above often don’t cover the current sprint goal. It is also hard to estimate some tasks, especially those connected with research. You can guess how long the investigation would last but the team should be prepared that it could be extended because of some unexpected results. That’s why some people wonder if UX tasks should be included in the backlog. The answer is – yes. Even if UX designers will be working mainly on different tasks than the rest of the team – they are a part of the team. Showing their work allows developers to understand their duties and encourages dialogue between different roles. Moreover, UX tasks can be estimated using t-shirt sizes, rather than the story points.
UX designers should attend sprints ceremonies
Each of sprint contains: sprint planning, daily standups, refinement, review and retrospective.
During sprint planning, the UX designer supports the product owner by walking everyone through UI mockups and answering detailed questions about designs. If there is no time during the sprint planning to discuss UX related work items, Product owner and UX designer can do this in a dedicated meeting.
Daily standup should work in the same way as in case of other roles. In these meetings, the UX designer can answer the questions: What did I complete yesterday? What will I work on today? Am I blocked by anything?
As for the refinement part, UX designers should make sure the team understands what is to be developed (for the next sprint). Together with the PO, they need to check that the acceptance criteria consist of UX requirements (for the next sprint). They can also discuss issues with the team, present UI mockups and concepts (for future sprints) and offer whiteboard sketching or other ideation techniques, which can help the team solve issues together.
During the sprint review, the UX designer supports the Product owner in presenting the completed work. He can also review test results and present user-centered insights. If time allows UX designer can get feedback from stakeholders and the team by presenting UI mockups and concepts for the next sprint.
Retrospective should also be a regular part of meetings for UX designers, as well as for other members of the development team. The Designers can provide the feedback about situations when they didn’t get the background information or research time needed to design something properly, as well as about implementation mistakes or miscommunications with developers, etc.
- UX designers are part of the development team so they should be treated like a team members. They should participate in regular meetings.
- UX tasks should be included in the backlog and visible for each team member.
- It is worth trying to estimate UX tasks.
- UX designers should have a clear vision of what is planned for the future. Their work in the current sprint goes beyond what is known.