DIY : A DIY guide to Integrate UX design and Scrum – UX BURNER – Medium

A quick overview of the UX BURNER process

Why UX BURNER?

Inspired by design thinking & lean startup philosophies, there are many frameworks like lean UX, design sprint, hook model, lean canvas et.all. Of course, they help companies to innovate and convert their product ideas from need to demand. But unfortunately, there are no DIY guides to make them explicitly work in agile methods like Scrum, Kanban, extreme programming, et.all.

As a result many product teams often waste time and resources to find out the best product design practices to fit their agile software development processes. Some of the top level obstacles faced by the teams are as follows;

  • Problem solving is often done in isolation.
  • Designs get mistranslated by the developers
  • Design and development teams work in different paces
  • UX work is not prioratized equally in the sprints
  • UX research often ends up with inconclusive results
  • Many teams depend on high-fi designs during the planning process that forces a waterfall culture throughout mplementation.

At the end, the core principles like shared understanding, team decision, collaboration, creativity that were promised by many innovative frameworks are nowhere found among the product development teams.

Wouldn’t be great if we had just one, holistic product design & development framework that is both User-Centred and Agile?

To solve these probelms, over the past few years I did research, tried a bunch of ideas, evaluated with users, experimented with real projects, and finally came up with a reliable working solution. We call it “ UX Burner”.

What is UX BURNER?

UX Burner is a holistic product design and development framework that integrates UX design activities and Scrum. It combines the best of agile, lean thinking and product design into a single process. UX Burner helps teams to have a shared perspective of the problem; have ownership; work collaboratively; make effective decisions; test product hypothesis; and release minimum desirable experiences in short cycles.

When to use UX BURNER?

UX Burner is versatile. Whether you need to solve problems, build your idea from scratch, improve your existing product, integrate UX design in your Scrum or give your team a creative culture then UX Burner has you covered.

Activites of UX BURNER

The following are the UX Burner activites used in sprints.

  1. Burner canvas- To define problems, understand the impact, define the measure of success and map out a minimum desirable experience.
  2. Design workshop- To move from abstract to concrete solutions using a uniquely structured ideation session.
  3. Prototyping- To convert the rough sketches into a digital prototypes so that we can evoke honest reactions from the users.
  4. Pair & Share- To establish a proactive communication. Designer & developer work on the same problem at the same time.
  5. User Test- To learn early and often. Regular user test help the teams to test the assumptions from real users.

Prerequisites

  1. In order to avoid loosing the rhythm of your scrum process, you have to integrate UX Burner in the sprint week, which means every UX burner activity should occur during the days of the regular sprint ceremonies. This keeps the pace of design and development work to be synchronised. See the image below.
Fig. 1. Sprint ceremonies & UX Burner activities

2. The design and development work should be equally prioratized in the sprint week. Include the design and development work explicitly in the sprint backlog.

3. In addition to the traditional Scrum team ( product owner, developers & Scrum master), Include designer to be the part of the team. Designer can help the team with moderation or share his best practices on design. Also, include your client and users whenever their input is needed.

Fig. 2. Design & development work in the sprint backlog

How to use the UX BURNER?

Scenario 1- Create a product from the scratch

Fig. 3. Overview of the UX Burner process

If you are starting a new product from the scratch, chances are that your team have big uncertainties about the problem, in this case you will have to use the whole framework from scratch. It includes all the UX burner activities from the scratch. They are Burner canvas, design workshop, prototyping, pair and share and user tests (on prototype) & internal demo. Make sure that the activites are conducted in the same days of regular sprint meetings (see Fig.3)

Step 1. First, start with a burner canvas workshop to build a foundation with your whole team. During this workshop, you will define the problem, identify the impacts, success metrics and at the end you will also have a first version of your product’s experience.

prioratization matrix from the Lean UX book

Step 2. Use the outcome of the burner canvas to extract user stories for your first sprint. At this stage, whatever you have in the backlog is just an assumption. understanding that you can’t test every assumption, we ruthlessly prioritise using a prioritisation matrix based on an idea from the Lean UX. It includes risk and value. Risk ( how bad would it be if our idea is wrong) vs Value (how much value will our idea bring?

Depending on the scope of the sprint, each sprint has one of the following three outcomes.

1. latest build of the current sprint + Prototype for the next sprint

2. Prototype for the next sprint

3. latest build of the current sprint

Step 3. Sprints can be of one week or two week cycles. During sprint planning, identify the user stories that are ready for the development and the stories that have uncertainties and might need a design workshop. Once the sprint planning is done, the developers get back to their regular sprint work (i.e. developing the user stories that have no uncertainties).

Step 4. On the same day, after the sprint planning meeting, Use a design workshop to tackle the uncertain stories. The design workshop is uniquely structured. It includes alignment on hypothesis, sketching and decision making.

Step 5. Once the design workshop is done, use the outcome to prototype. Distribute the tasks to prototype, make sure the developers have a chance to prototype with the designers. By doing this, developers can also learn the unknown practices from the designers.

Step 6. Throughout the week, the designers & developers adopt a pair and share role. They work closely on the prototype and the stories that are being developed in the sprint. The prototype will only be estimated & built in the upcoming sprint.

At the end of each sprint, which is the Friday, conduct user tests to evaluate the outcome of the sprint. Host an internal demo to share the findings with the whole team and decide on the next steps. The findings from the user tests are collected as UX improvements and are prioritised to be implemented in the upcoming sprints.

Hold the sprint demo after the user tests & internal demo, this is because had the users seen the design already during the demo, They would already be biased and this can’t evoke honest reactions from the users during the user tests.

Scenario 2- Improve an existing product

Once you have the first version of the build, over the time, more requirements/features have to be fulfilled, and in this case, first prioritise them using risk vs value. Risk ( how bad would it be if our idea is wrong) vs Value (how much value will our idea bring? and then use the UX levels to choose the UX burner activities. Conducting regular user tests at the end of your sprint should always be your focus. Collect the UX improvements and prioritise accordingly to implement them in the upcoming sprints.

Smart backlog management

Breakdown and categorise your requirements into Epics, Features, User Stories

  1. Epics, Features & user stories- Extract and classify Epics, features and user stories from the Burner canvas. Maintain them as seperate backlogs.
Epics & user stories

Some definitions…

Epics- Fulfils a business goal

Features- Creates an impact that serves the goal

User stories– Smallest item for implementation

2. Feature Backlog- Have an overview of the upcoming features in a separate backlog. It includes features and the appropriate UX Levels.

3. UX Levels- To plan and decide the UX Burner activities for the sprints. UX Levels are assigned to each feature and are maintained in the feature backlog.

Use the UX Levels to effectively maintain your backlog and plan your UX burner activities for your first sprint.

Backlog with Features & its UX levels

UX Levels

When to use UX burner activities in sprints? Which UX burner activites should I use? Thanks to UX Levels. Not all the UX burner activities are needed in your sprints. It depends on the level of uncertainity you have about the problem and solution concerned with your feature. UX levels comes in handy to easily decide the UX level of your features. It recommends the list of activites to be used for the selected feature. UX levels include the following conditions;

  1. Level1Uncertainties on the problem– Your team is not sure about the requirements and wanted to explore the problem space.
  2. Level 2Uncertainties on the needed solution– Your team is sure about the problem but need to identify a right solution.
  3. Level 3Uncertainties about the design details– your team is sure about the problem and solution but not sure about the design details (eg. content & visual needs of the solution)
  4. Level 4- No Uncertainties- Your team has a strong understanding of the problem and the exact solution.
Fig.4. UX Levels- A table to choose the UX Burner actitives for your sprint

Use the UX levels ( see fig. 4) as a reference and assign the UX levels to each feature in the backlog. label them with a specific UX level and make it explicit in the backlog. Based on the UX level, execute the corresponding activities tied to the UX level. Conduct those activities alongside the regular sprint ceremonies.

After selecting your UX level. Start a sprint and follow the same steps as mentioned above and use the framework in fig.3 for reference.

When the sprint is in progress and if you have a UX level 1 feature in your backlog that is ready for the upcoming sprint, then it is always better to have the burner canvas workshop done before the sprint starts. Make sure that you have enough time before the sprint begins. Use the output of the burner canvas workshop for the Monday’s design workshop.

If you like the overview of UX burner, then please give this article a like as it would help others to learn something new.

  1. If you are interested to know more about our UX burner trainings, then check out here!
  2. Interested in our book? then check out more about the book and the release from this page.

Stay updated with more stories and techniques in my upcoming posts.

Thanks !

UX BURNER series
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Next: Burner Canvas ( Day 1)

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