The Value of Just-Enough User-Centered Design in an Agile Development Process
Continued from “What About the Big Picture – Part 1”…
Formative Testing vs. Summative Testing
Both methods I mention in my previous post include formative testing, or the testing that is done on low-fidelity prototypes before coding begins. Validating any new additions to the system, this type of testing is very beneficial to maintaining a good user experience.
If you have an existing project that has not been focusing on your end user’s experience, and you are looking to incorporate user-centered design, then Hurrah! Welcome Aboard! Unfortunately you will have to set aside time to conduct some summative usability testing on the existing system and be willing to take action on those results. The most effective type of testing to do would be moderated testing conducted on-site so that the users can be observed directly and probed for as much insight as possible. Creating the test wouldn’t take long after there was a good understanding of the system, but if user experience hasn’t been the main focus in the development process, then you may be in for a rude awakening. The actionable items coming out of those results could fill an iteration or more, or even a release. The best thing to do is to conduct usability tests on individual processes or tasks in the system and then act immediately on the findings. Try to keep the scope of the test as narrow as possible so scripting the test is quick and too many development tasks don’t result from the testing.