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How to Do User Research in Agile Teams

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Improve your software product

You will learn to build better products by researching user behavior, needs, and motivations. We’ll show you a practical guide to integrate these techniques to your Agile development process.

You will learn

  • Types of user research
  • Traditional Agile processes
  • How to integrate user research and Agile
  • How to create you own lab
  • The impact on your product development process

WEBINAR ASSETS

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Participants

Misael León

Product Designer

Georgie Bottomley

UX Researcher

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How to Do User Research in Agile Teams

Improve your software product

You will learn to build better products by researching user behavior, needs, and motivations. We’ll show you a practical guide to integrate these techniques to your Agile development process.

You will learn

  • Types of user research
  • Traditional Agile processes
  • How to integrate user research and Agile
  • How to create you own lab
  • The impact on your product development process

Participants

Misael León

Product Designer

Georgie Bottomley

UX Researcher

WEBINAR SUMMARY

Webinar Slides

Agile and User Research

This text is extracted from minute 3:00

It seems that User Research and Agile practices exist separately. The challenge comes when you try to do User Research with agile teams. However, this is only a myth. As a first step let’s understand what Agile and User Research are.

User Research is a series of techniques that focus on understanding user behavior, needs and motivations through observation and measurement.

Types of Research Activities You Can Do to Validate Your Product

This text is extracted from minute 4:56

Qualitative

  • Interviews
  • Usability test
  • Contextual
  • Generative Exercises

Quantitative

  • Surveys
  • Analytics
  • A/B Testing
  • Agile development process  

In a development team, the way to do Agile is to do incremental development on the project. This allows you to adapt as the project evolves over time. It consists of running short sprints that allow you to quickly adapt to user’s preferences or the pulse of the market. The way to sense this pulse of the user preferences is user research. It is why you need to implement these activities in the sprint.

How to Integrate User Research into an Agile Team

This text is extracted from minute 7:20

There is a lot of misconception regarding why and how to implement both methodologies. Many teams believe it is too expensive, time-consuming or that it is somebody else’s job.

At the end, the main idea is to shorten the feedback loop to make sure you are building the right product. These changes are seen in software development too. Going from waterfall to agile development and now with a big push into lean development. As researchers, we have to define how to do enough research, without spending six months on it.

The work of a UX designer, a product designer or researcher, is to educate their teams or clients about the importance of research.

To integrate User Research into Agile you can,

  • Validate the idea
  • Test small hypothesis
  • Make validation work visible
  • Involve the whole team

How Does User Research Fit into Agile

This text is extracted from minute 25:34

When you are creating a new idea or adding a new feature to your existing product, you need to add a validation phase to the agile development process. This phase is to understand and creating the idea for the first time. The main goal is to understand who are the users, what is their pain point, how they are solving the problems right now and the motivation and context of how they solve the problem.

To answer these question you can use several research activities, like interviewing potential users, sending a survey or observing them. At the end, the main goal is to get out of the building and watch how people solve the problem you are trying to solve.

It is very common in product team that someone will come into a meeting and say, “a competitor has this feature, we should have this feature too.” What a team usually does after that is to raise hands and decide if they will add the feature or not.

You may end up with a product that has a lot of features and you don’t even know why they are there in the first place. Adding an understanding phase to your development process will help you validate if the new feature is worth adding to your product. Once you understand the problem it is time to gain early feedback to see if you are on the right track. You can do it very easily with techniques like rapid paper prototyping.

After validation, you can move to build a more defined prototype. The idea is to simulate how the final product will look like without having to write a single line of code. Once your idea is validated, you can start the development process.

At this point, you will already know how your idea looks like and defining the requirements will be easier. It will also be easier to pass the baton to development.

How to Build Your Own Research Lab

This text is extracted from minute 34:33
  1. Find a space, It can be as simple as a meeting room and a laptop.
  2. Invite participants, you can use twitter, email or meet up groups. The main idea is to find users that are excited about your product and willing to give feedback. This part could be the most challenging. It is important to be clear on the message and explain what they will be doing and the purpose of the study. Also, you can give a reward to encourage people to participate.   
  3. Create your discussion guide
  • Introduction  (1om min)
  • Warm – up questions (10 – 15 min)
  • Body of the session (20 -30 min)
  • Reflection question (5 – 10 min)
  • Incentive + goodbye (5 – min)
  • Test your work
  1. Analyze and communicate findings

How to Do User Research with Distributed Teams

This text is extracted from minute 42:45

If your team is distributed, you can still build virtual research labs.

  • Remote Usability Testing through video calls
  • Affinity diagrams using virtual sticky-notes
  • Recruit users through screeners
  • Use online research tools for card sorting, tree test, surveys, etc

How an Agile Team Benefits from User Research

This text is extracted from minute 44:46

Project Managers

  • Save time and money by knowing they are building the right thing.
  • Avoid rework by preventing usability issues once a product has been built.

Developer

  • Learn from watching their work in a real scenario
  • Ideate other solutions based on what they see
  • Develop empathy for users

Designers

  • Confidence about design decisions
  • A better understanding of the problem
  • Validate assumptions
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