Agile Design Process: What it Is and Top Benefits

Agile Design Process: What it Is and Top Benefits

Article by DesignRush DesignRush
262
Last Updated: July 24, 2022

75% of the companies said that accelerated software delivery is one of the main driving forces to adopt an agile methodology.

Providing an iterative framework, the agile methodology helps refine the software through repetition, thereby moving towards the goal.

An agile design process is iterative and incremental. In simpler terms, the development cycle is run once, the problem is identified, and improvements are made for the next cycle. This allows them to create products faster and meet customer requirements efficiently.

Despite the agile methodology being majorly implemented for software development, with the changing times, it is also being used for designing.

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What is an Agile Design Process?

Agile is a management process that makes teams more adaptable to change. This helps to enhance the product and solves significant problems with each iteration, resulting in better user experience and customer satisfaction.

The agile process is a highly collaborative way to design and develop new products by breaking tasks into small chunks performed in sprints. These sprints ensure that the product is not delivered immediately but instead focuses on steady and meaningful progress.

There will be questions to which you won’t have answers, and the agile methodology will unravel the answers as the iterations move forward. When you can decide what iterations need to be made, it helps teams make rational and quick decisions to clear out all the pressing issues.

Regular communication also makes the process a seamless one. This is what sets it apart from the rest of the methodologies.

The client and stakeholders’ invaluable feedback can consistently take the product toward what the users need.

History of the Agile Process

A group of developers published the Agile Manifesto in 2001 after their experiences with working on software projects that didn’t work out well.

Initially, the waterfall method was used, with the phases of the project aligned linearly in approach. The technique can work well only if there aren’t many changes in the development cycle, which might not always be true!

This methodology required analyzing the problem and noting down a specification. However, the testing phase was done only to check the functionality and didn’t dive deep into the other crucial user requirements. This process took too long, and the defects were only noted when the overall product was prepared. Further, the design and development planning phase and, finally, the testing phase is what follows.

Iterations were too slow, unproductive, inflexible, and complicated. This made it even more difficult to deal with constant workflow changes. This further made the planning phases even more complex leading to the projects being delivered past the timeline.

The identification of varied problems led to the discovery of the agile methodology.

However, the current times call for a need to develop products quickly without wasting time and money. If there are iterations to be made, they are detected as soon as the first iteration is introduced to the users. The product moves on to the next phase when the users accept them.

Since the product also needs to be relevant to specific teams, designers need to speak to the team members or representatives to get a brief idea about the expected solution.

8 Agile Design Principles

Here are a few fundamental principles that help to implement the agile design process seamlessly.

1. Support from Executives

The top management controls the budget and the timeline, and their lack of support can lead to gaps in the project.

Without being backed by executives, the team members end up adhering to unrealistic timelines and a lack of resources may lead to missing out on essential aspects. Likewise, enough time and resources should also be granted to the teams for enough time and resources.

A seamless product is only possible when the executives understand the role design plays in a product and are willing to support the designers through the phase.

2. Cross-functional Teams

The design teams should work with other team members, such as developers, marketing, etc., throughout the product development cycle. Connecting with relevant groups help to build trust among the team members and helps gauge the exact problems that can provide a targeted solution.

When designers hand over the assets to the developers, there is a possibility that they might be coded differently as they might not be understood well. This can be avoided by creating an introductory and interactive model instead of just sending across static designs.

For example, developers and designers must consistently work together as they have common goals.

3. Project Backlog and Planning Management

Designers need to prioritize the backlog carefully. The backlog should be planned accordingly that contain features that need to be introduced in the final product.

The Backlog should be prioritized and evaluated according to the value they provide to the final product.

A user persona, empathy map, UX storyboard, and analyzing the user journey can help significantly. These tools help in clearly identifying the user’s needs.

4. Accurate Timelines for the Next Release

Besides highlighting features, designers should also highlight the time required to get the product market-ready. Apart from the bird’s eye view, estimations can also help manage the team activities in detail.

Since agile methodology considers specific iterations, estimating the timings for those minor changes is vital too. You should also identify the complex, and tedious tasks involved in the process, so that enough time and resources are set aside to sort them out too.

5. Research and Testing

It wouldn’t matter if we were building a perfect product on time and within the budget if the product doesn’t align with what the users seek.

It is crucial to ensure that the team is building the exact solution that the users seek, and that’s where research and testing can help.

When the team is stuck with minor changes, they may forget the big picture. The users might not even engage with products created in isolation. This may lead to a fragmented approach. The research and testing results can also help the team stick to the end goal.

User research and testing are essential tools that can help the Agile design process. This allows the team avoid wasting time on redundant activities and adds the value that the users seek. Other ways to gather insights include conducting user interviews and field research.

6. Keeping the Team Changes to a Minimum

Teams require a positive team spirit and the dynamics of the people who are a part of it. A new change can disturb the internal processes directly impacting the team’s performance.

Further, the new team members will require some more time to settle into the team and be well versed with the workflows, which can slow down progress.

7. Hiring a Scrum Master

If you need to introduce the scrum processes to the team, it requires dedicated and experienced personnel. A professional scrum master that the process is smooth.

They will act as a coordinator for agile product design activities and help the methodology integrate well within the team.

8. Consistent Communication

Communication is one of the significant aspects of any project, and it also serves the same purpose within an agile team. When everyone in the group is updated about the current ongoings, transparency is maintained, and no one works in isolation.

Apart from the team, the stakeholders and the clients benefit from consistent communication. A sure-fire way to do this is with daily syncs, review sessions, and retrospective meetings, to name a few. The following statistics can support this:

81% of the scrum team report holding a retrospective after every sprint.

Benefits of an Agile Design Process

Multiple benefits come with an agile design process. They are as follows:

Prompt Feedback

The product requirements aren’t set in stone and can change throughout the software development process.

Apart from identifying the problem and teams, teams can respond to them quickly as well. And that’s why delivering a small iteration can help you with an opportunity to get feedback for each iteration. This can give you a clear idea about how to improve your product in the next round.

This boosts team morale and inclines them to be motivated and productive to work on further iterations. The users also feel a sense of transparency about the changes as they can review and suggest changes.

Consistent Involvement

With visibility maintained, teams can be consistently connected with each product iteration and not waste much time in giving their inputs always.

However, it should also be noted that the requests outside the planned backlog can affect the sprint planning. Hence, to ensure that the flow isn’t disturbed, it is essential not to let the activities waver.

Change Management

Agile in design is a more straightforward method as updating the product after a small iteration is cheap compared to updating the product after providing complete functionality.

It also helps with critical and imminent issues by saving time and money. For example, a bug discovered at a later stage can turn out to be much more expensive than in the earlier stages.

Faster Development

Delivering small parts of the design to development can help with faster implementation. That’s how the development team doesn’t have to wait for the complete design to begin with the implementation.

As teams might be working on shorter time frames before a release, an agile design methodology can help the teams to be focused on a tight schedule.

With consistent tweaking of the product with new information, teams don’t need to begin the process from scratch every time a bug or defect is identified.

Agile Design Process – Key Takeaways

Much like the other processes, designs are bound to change swiftly too. Agile adoption in software teams had increased to 81% in 2021 and continues to grow in the design domain too.

Over the years, the Agile design process has spread to various crafts, teams, and organizations, and design has been one such field that has been impacted positively. An agile methodology isn’t about rushing or reaching perfection but instead making things efficient and productive.

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