Agile and User Centered Design

Nielsen Normal Group
Nielsen Norman Group

This new article from Jakob Nielsen was an interesting read. It relates back, in a roundabout way if you really squint at it from a distance, to my previous posts (here and here) on where the Business Analyst fits in to the User Centered Design (UCD) process. Nielsen is looking at the problem from the perspective of how UCD fits in to the Agile development lifecycle. The focus on a rapid sprint style of development leaves little room for user engagement and testing. Furthermore the concentration on small sprints to achieve functionality can be at the expense of a unified, user-focused design and information architecture. Unless of course that UCD is integrated in to the project from the beginning. This is Nielsen’s point.

The BA gets involved in many of the areas that UCD preaches (requirements gathering, wireframing, information structure, process flow etc.) but he/she is not a designer, so my query was how they fit together? Nielsen makes this comment:

“it’s important to designate a gatekeeper to track requirements and communications between the UX team and the other project teams to keep everybody on track (even though those tracks are parallel).”

This would be a natural starting point for a BA to again be that bridge between two groups. Although it sounds like a Project Manager type role at first glance, I see greater scope for engagement and influence in the project, and so more of a BA type role. To be the “gatekeeper” between the UCD team and the development team. To integrate the user and design requirements from the UCD side, and working within the information architecture and design principals, bringing that to bear on the functional requirements and delivering that to the development team.

Just a thought.

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Agile and User Centered Design