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It's all about looks

Agile Usability No 2 - AID

I haven’t been writing about the progress so far but here it comes. One of the major concerns was about TLA for the process. Me and a college of mine discussed it for quite some time and the result was AID. For you that are not familiar with TLA; it stands for Three Letter Acronym and it is a must for any technical whitepaper. The AID stands for Agile Interaction Design. And the TLA, at first a joke turned quite good. AID is not intended as a standalone process, it should be an aid for the agile development process. See my point here? ;)I have been using the findings in one small project up until now but as I will move into a bigger project I will use the skills learned so far. However, there is an issue that, up until now, I haven’t been able to address. Agile development is really head on, the first sprint for the project started this week and the project kicked off a week ago. The issue is that there is no time for a full user analysis and the developers need personas well, yesterday.Don Norman really came to the rescue here, after reading Why doing user observations first is wrong; it fell into place; this is how AID will be even more agile. By defining a simplified temporary persona with the little input we have so far, the developers can at least get a grip on and start discussing the user. We will continually add to this persona, stabilizing it. Of course this will sometimes change the scenarios and the interaction design all the way down to the basic user tests.Just face it, moste of the time usability will not make it into the project before it starts, there will mostly not be time for a two week big upfront user study. This has to be done side by side with the developers executing their sprints.And isn't this what being agile is all about. Embrace change, be able to move forward in small steps, constantly adapt to the surroundings, work together in a tight team and learn from each other. And never, ever forget why you are developing the application.

I saw this great article, Tipping the Scale (Why the UI, Part 5), concerning the level of complexity when using the, now, old menu-toolbar paradigm. This has been used and worked well ever since it was introduced in the late 70's and went mainstream during the 80's.The article is of course in the light of what’s to come in office 2007. But I think it applies to a lot of other applications as well, especially if you look at what can be done to FireFox. Also recomended reading at Jeff Atwoods Cooding HorrorThere is a great need for us usability knowledgeable to start thinking in new directions. The new supplied development frameworks now more than ever supports free thinking now the responsibility is with us. Be creative and make sure to know your users.