Agile & BEYOND!!

On Thursday and Friday, April 30th and May 1st, I was at Agile & Beyond (or, as I mentally refer to it, Agile & BEYOND!) in Dearborn. The conference doubled in length this year, making for two solid days of pretty good talks on Agile and Agile-friendly topics.

The question of how to integrate with Agile has been at the top of the collective UX mind for years, at this point. There seems to be an insatiable appetite for people asking and talking about how we can work in Agile. Maybe it comes down to there just being new UX people encountering Agile for the first time, year after year, as their organizations adopt Agile or the UXer enters the workforce. Maybe it also comes down to the flexible nature of Agile – as a methodology that embraces adaptation, perhaps it’s more slippery than many other concepts.

While UX is talking about Agile, Agile sure doesn’t seem to be talking about UX, at least based on the sessions of this conference that I went to. If this conference was all I had to go on, there doesn’t seem to be any need for effective user research or any recognition that design is something that gets better when people deeply engage with it. When there was talk of usability, it was as though it was a commodity (“and then get some usability at the end”), and there was some talk of personas, as though they are a thing that magically appears.

Ultimately, this lack of visibility is on us. If people don’t recognize what user experience specialists can bring to the (figurative) table, then we simply have to make it more clear.