After you publish, test and review

As a consultant to business and government, I know my clients often see publishing as a project that has a start, middle, and end. Once they’ve published their app, their data, or their text and media, they often express relief that the job is finished and then want to forget about it.

The thing is, they’re not finished. If the app, data, or content is mission critical, they must not simply forget about it.

A story: Averting failure

To illustrate what can happen when people publish and forget, here’s a simple story. It’s from the perspective of a customer or “user” of some material that was published by others. In this story, I am one of those customers.

I wanted to meet a colleague near London’s Liverpool Station, so that we could attend a design event together. To decide where to meet, we used the internet to access a tool, data, and material published by others.

We needed to:

  • look at a map of Liverpool Street Station
  • choose a meeting location nearby
  • have a look at the event brochure

Continue reading “After you publish, test and review”

Put usability in your Agile backlog

We’ve all seen it: waterfall projects that deliver the wrong thing, too late. So we understand the appeal of the Agile method, delivering working software sooner, so the intended users—our clients and their customers—can provide feedback that steers us to deliver the right thing. Agile reporting tools also help us estimate how long the work will take, which makes it possible to deliver on time.

But there’s a tension between delivering the right thing and delivering on time. And as a UX practitioners, we sometimes see usability sacrificed in the rush to release on time. This happens despite the first of the Agile Manifesto’s principles:

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

Valuable software is usable software, among other things. Data about what’s usable comes from testing. And much of that testing can’t take place until after the development—done in Agile stories—is completed and signed off. Development teams—consisting of analysts, developers, testers, usability researchers, and interface designers—often consider an Agile story to be completed despite the lack of feedback from the intended customers about its usability—or unusability. We can do better. Continue reading “Put usability in your Agile backlog”