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What is the place for Design Ops in Agile?

By Tania Makroo

Teams that work closely together should know more about each other's goals, processes and deliverables, that way there are fewer misunderstandings when it comes time for collaboration. While UX teams typically work well with product teams, it’s a little less intuitive when UX designers must work closely with developers. As UX designers are on one side of the equation strategizing and curating the experience and visuals of the product, developers are the ones who will be coding up those ideas into reality in an app or website prototype. A lot of the troubles that arise when UX and developer teams work together are the result of the teams not knowing enough about what each team does.

Design team working/brainstorming in studio.

DesignOps helps facilitate this exchange by creating a clear process aligning everyone on clear expectations and promotes consistency.

When it comes to designing in a Lean-Agile environment, many elements need to be considered. One of the most important factors in design work is the need of designers to operate in parallel with development teams and work closely with each other.

Designers need to be part of the team rather than looking at design as a separate process, this will enable them to get a better understanding of the development process and work accordingly. In an Agile environment, design is not just about designing something but it is also about closely working with developers to improve productivity, quality and consistency in teams which can be done by focusing on standardized design elements across the organization.

Designers need to figure out what can best suit the agile environment and how their design strategies can be carried out effectively in the current development process. There are no set rules for Agile design but there are some factors that can provide a better understanding of how to operate as a designer in an Agile team:

1. Designers should create designs which are easy to reuse, update and maintain: designing reusable components reduces the team effort and enables teams to work efficiently.

2. Designers should be involved in multiple projects, this will enable them to experiment with different ideas and get more experience which they can apply in future projects.

3. Designers should focus on prototyping early and testing designs in small pilot studies/iterations. This will enable designers to discover important design problems early on and provide them with the flexibility to make changes in design during development.

4. Designers should be well versed with tools which can help them interact directly with developers like Subversion, GIT etc.

5. Design teams should focus on building a common toolkit for templates, widgets and other reusable design elements.

6. Designers should not be attached to their designs, any new insights or changes in business needs can change the design completely which will benefit the overall development process, so a screen can be scraped due to this, remember it’s not personal.

7. It is important for designers to focus on user interface and its usability issues by conducting user testing sessions since it will help them maintain uniformity across products and gives them real world feedback. Developers can be invited to this sessions as it will help development teams to build empathy for the users and can reduce questions during the sprint planning process.

8. Designers should have a clear understanding of what they are designing, being part of the development team will provide them with a better perspective on how to build things and why they need to be built in the first place.

9. In an Agile environment, designers should not only focus on building prototypes but should also create documentation and other supporting elements which can help teams work more efficiently.

10. Designers and developers should not be working in isolation, designers need to communicate with developers during design reviews and build a strong relationship with each other which can enable them to solve problems quickly without any hassles.

To conclude, UX design in Agile is a challenging task and requires designers to be adaptive towards their work. Designers need to focus on building design strategies which can provide them with flexibility and enable them to carry out their work more efficiently so that they can help teams deliver products/projects successfully.

Next time, we will talk about designers and QA dynamics.

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