User Experience Magazine: Volume 9, Issue 1, 2010
Feature Articles: UX Maturity Models Agile Development
Several activities at UPA 2009 focused on shared experiences of working in agile environments. Six presentations, one panel, and a pre-conference workshop told how usability professionals face new challenges reconciling their research, design, and evaluation activities with schedules and practices of agile teams.
Agile became a hot topic at UPA’s annual conferences in 2008 and 2009, and UX professionals have embraced the opportunities and challenges the agile process presents. This article highlights the collaboration results from twenty enthusiastic participants of the workshop at the UPA 2009 International Conference in Portland, Oregon. Best practices, success factors, challenges, and solutions are summarized. We conclude that UX professionals can play a key role in making agile successful in organizations.
The goal of the agile process is to deliver high quality products faster to meet customer’s needs. UX professionals have a lot of experience to contribute in this area. In general, the participants said it takes around 6 to 12 months for the teams and the processes they use to gel and be comfortable and productive. The good news here is that once practitioners have had this positive experience, no one wants to go back to their previous methods. And, the other good news is that you don’t have to go agile alone – there are many of us out here working to build an agile UX community who are happy to share both the good and the bad.
By Richard Douglass and Kayre Hylton
The User Experience (UX) team at Nationwide collaborated with an internal business team at Nationwide Financial on an ongoing project. Together, they adopted the Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation (RITE) methodology to achieve success by taking advantage of its three main facets: an easily modifiable prototype, faster, more frequent feedback, and a design that evolved over time.
This article is a case study of this Nationwide Financial project and summarizes how the project utilized the RITE methodology, what was gained from it, and some practical considerations for other practitioners considering this methodology.
This project’s prototype was an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file with linked pages, exported from wireframes built using Adobe InDesign. Its low fidelity allowed changes to be made quickly and easily between participants. Feedback was received immediately as the UX lead (who was responsible for creating and updating the prototype) and business stakeholders were present for all sessions. The ability to make changes between test sessions meant that each set of participants was able to offer unique feedback on content not previously viewed. The large amount of feedback received, combined with how easily modifiable the prototype was, allowed for changes to be made quickly, and then continually validated and refined throughout testing. The prototype evolved much more significantly than would have typically been possible in a single round of standard usability testing.
Our team has found that RITE is very beneficial for projects in the early development stages. There are, however, issues to keep in mind when employing this methodology. High involvement of UX leads and business stakeholders is key, and expectations must be set on how this process and its results differ from standard usability testing.
M.C. Medlock et al., “Using the RITE Method to Improve Products: A Definition and a Case Study,” 2002, www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=3b882eb1-5f06-41d9-baba-d39ad13bc3ff&displaylang=en.
Numerous evaluation methods exist for improving the usability of products. But how do you obtain a basis for improving a company’s usability processes and practices? Usability maturity models are methods designed exactly for that purpose. Usability maturity models help management to understand where to make improvements in the organization. The models benefit usability practitioners by pinpointing areas for improvement in usability practices.
The article offers an overview of different usability maturity models and discusses their main features. The article also addresses different organizational issues that can have an impact on effective usability efforts.
The main features of the standard process assessment model are described as well as an overview of other models and the types of organizational issues that impact usability. The selection of the models is also discussed: to what extent they are documented, and to what extent research evidence exists about their validity.
Enterprise software has the reputation of being user hostile. Why is this, and why is it so hard to make usable software for business operations? Some of the world’s largest software companies spend large amounts of money trying to make their products easy to use. They hire some of the brightest minds in usability and UI design. So why do the UIs of business software remain so unusable?
Many factors lead to the poor quality of enterprise software, and its associated user experience. Is it because vendors lack the skilled resources to make usable systems? Is it because the enterprise market fails to consider usability in the purchasing process? Does the enterprise software ecosystem lack sufficient feedback mechanisms regarding user experience issues? Or, is it simply what management science refers to as a “wicked problem” to create a usable enterprise class application?
This article analyzes the factors that stand in the way of designing usable enterprise products and offers some possible solutions. The usability profession needs to not only promote the application of existing methods among practitioners, but it also needs to prioritize the refinement of methods specific to enterprise systems. Organizations like UPA need to devise ways to reach the influential members of the enterprise software ecosystem more effectively, to raise their awareness of user experience best practices and how they apply to enterprise systems.
Overall, we as a community need to make a priority our influence on the usability of the systems that impact the productivity and working lives of the modern workforce. Failure to do so will not only doom millions of workers to unnecessary drudgery and frustration, but also increasingly influence our day-to-day experiences as consumers for the worse.
Although user experience professionals look to the user-centered design process (UCD) as the overarching set of principles for the research, design, and testing of usable products that meet customer needs, the application of these principles varies significantly depending on the type and scale of design challenges to be solved and the level of usability maturity that a company practices. This case study describes how one organization went from a Usability Maturity Model level of Implemented to a level of Integrated while it worked through a design cycle for a large enterprise application suite–and the lessons learned along the way.
Earthy, J.: Usability Maturity Model: Human Centeredness Scale, Version 1.2 (1998). http://www.idemployee.id.tue.nl/g.w.m.rauterberg/lecturenotes/USability-Maturity-Model%5B1%5D.PDF
By Jerrod Larson, Jen Hocko & Richard Bye
Companies often inadvertently procure difficult-to-use enterprise software, in part because they have not historically included usability evaluations as part of their procurement processes. In this article we present a simple, low cost method that allows companies to systematically evaluate the usability of prospective enterprise software products prior to purchase. In short, we advocate appropriating the vendor software demonstration as a makeshift usability evaluation.
Finstad, K., Xu, W., Kapoor, S., Canakapalli, S., Gladding, J. (2009). “Bridging the Gaps Between Enterprise Software and End Users.” Interactions. March + April, 2009, 10-14.
Larson, J. (2008). “Absent, Ill-Defined, and Devalued: Usability in Technology Research Firm Software Evaluations.” User Experience Magazine: Vol. 7, Issue 1.
Lif, M., Göransson, B. & Sandbäck, T. (2005) “Buying Usable – The User-Centred Procurement Process.” Proceedings from UITQ 2005, May 24-25, Stockholm, Sweden.
Vinh, K. (2007). “If It Looks Like a Cow, Swims Like a Dolphin and Quacks Like a Duck, It Must Be Enterprise Software.” Accessed May 2, 2009, from: http://www.subtraction.com/2007/10/19/if-it-looks-
By Sean Van Tyne
Organizations and their products and services have a user experience regardless if the organization is consciously managing it or not! A good user experience delights customers and creates a steady revenue stream while a poor user experience detracts customers and can be the demise of an organization. Savvy organizations invest in developing their user experience strategy and process and make them central to their overall organizations’ objectives. This article, shares the secret of developing a mature user experience for your organizations.
The User Experience Maturity Model is a framework that describes an organizations maturity along a continuum. It defines where an organization is and provides the instructions to reach the next level. The model also provides a benchmark for your organization and relative comparison to other organizations.
In this article you will learn about the five levels defined along the continuum of user experience maturity starting at the initial level of no user experience management to customer focused organization. Organizations progress through a sequence of stages as their user experience management processes evolve and mature. You can match your organization with the following descriptions to see what your next stage is likely to be.