DesOps : the Next Wave in Design (Part 3) The Maturity of Design Systems

To understand where a DesignSystem  of an organisation stands in context of implementing a DesOps, first step is to evaluate the existing DesignSystem that is in place and contributes to the organisation’s design process. (We will explore the process aspect in details, in later articles in this series.) To evaluate any DesignSystems  in a broadway we can easily form a metrics that takes care of the following two perspectives on the system.

Designer System Types

Typically the Design Systems can be broadly categorised into 3 types, namely: StaticDynamic and Generative :

Static: Most of the attributes and elements that make this system is mostly static in nature. For example in a Static type Design System, the style guide may be pre-defined print ready reference, defining basic color standards and typography etc. The user has to read through and manually refer it to decide those related attributes in his work. This kind of System mainly prescribes guidelines, rules, principles which does not automatically change or created in a dynamic way either in the stages of creation or implementation by the developers etc. Typical organisational style guides, or UI pattern documentations where the system describes how and where to use the patterns with some sample code to refer are falling under this kind of categories.

Dynamic: This kind of DesignSystem  have the content as well as the principles of implementations are designed and developed in a way that can be directly used in the code. The creation and implementation of the content are dynamic and mostly geared towards the actual elements that can directly be used in the code. This kind of DesignSystem  is more than a reference system for the developer, rather as a part of the actual build of the actual products developed as a part of it. Most easily noticeable traits of this kind of DesignSystem  is that some special purpose frameworks, code libraries are part of it, which integrate into the actual builds of the products.

Generative: Generative DesignSystem  are the ones, which generate the actual build ready outputs that can directly go into the build of the product. For example, instead of a static style guide, a generative DesignSystem  can have the tool that will generate dev-ready HTML, CSS and Java Script based output from the designer/developer inputs. The output of such system, take care of the context for which the design outputs is needed. Let’s say if the developer needs to build a cross platform hybrid app, hen such system can generate the code that will take care of the scenarios for the interaction and behaviour for all target device resolutions, screen density as well as the behaviour for native wrappers as well as in-browser functionalities and restrictions. We will again journey into the details of the Generative Design Systems shortly.

Designer System Maturity 

The other angle to look at the Design Systems is to scale the maturity to measure how much the system has evolved. One of most important aspect of any Design System is to understand the maturity of it, as this helps to understand where it is in the overall DesOpsroadmap. Irrespective of the varied and complex categorisation of the same, we can still name the maturity as Low , Medium and High to get a quick and easy comprehension. And when we try to map the maturity, it takes care of the categorisation aspect.

Low Maturity: When the Design System has a low maturity, it mostly depends on the static attributes that we discussed above. The creation and maintenance of different attributes are mostly the result of manual effort and the most interesting point about this is that the designer and developers have the cognitive load to refer and comprehend and take decisions on what to use and not use in specific context of their work or product. It is also important, there may be some attributes which might have dynamic attributes , but most of them are out of the transition that the design system is having due to its evolution,

Medium Maturity: In the Design Systems  with medium maturity, the most elements and attributes are mainly dynamic in nature. These systems mostly depend on the frameworks, libraries etc. There may be some overlaps in static and well as generative attributes.

High Maturity: Similarly in Higher maturity, apart from the fact that it mostly contains generative attributes, it involves the aspects of automation, computer-vision and may deploy artificial intelligence (AI) to provide continuous pipelines that aspires to remove the human intervention form the process blocks. On ground reality it might require the human intervention to feed in the creative juices or decision power that impacts critical human needs or contexts.

When we map these 2 perspectives horizontally and vertically, we get the the right insight into the DesignSystem’s position in the graph that allows us to clearly understand where the gaps are for the DesignSystem to evolve on which dimensions.

Note that the metrics that govern the success of a DesOps implementation is almost synonymous to this metrics we explored about Design Systems. The factors that adds to this metric on Design Systems,  includes aspect where we measure how impactful the Design System is in touching the different design process lifecycle blocks where each role like an Information Architect or an Interaction Designer , Visual Designer or even the Developer are attached to, in the delivery track. This aspect is more figuratively termed as a Living Design System. 

The Living Design System

The scaling of design is a classic issue. Moreover in recent times the explosive growth of technology across different devices, platforms and ecosystems, it became an ever-growing monster that every designer faces sooner or later. Native (Windows, Android, iOS, Linux etc. ) Web (HTML, HTML5, CSS, CSS3, JavaScript and frameworks etc. ) Along with the combination – the Hybrid – make the scaling of the design language an unending challenge.

The Salesforce design team tried to solve the challenges of applying similar designs across cross-platform product families by introducing a dynamically configurable design asset system which viewed the individual entities of any design system as design tokens.

Technically it was a single JSON file that was the “Single Source of Truth” that contained a set of name-value pairs that defined the properties and their relationships under different categories like text colours, backgrounds, border sizes, font sizes, etc. This JSON was consumed by the framework (i.e. The Lightning Designing System link: https://www.lightningdesignsystem.com/downloads/) developed and templatized for different target platforms, devices, Operating Systems etc. The Lightning Designing System framework generated different formatted outputs for CSS via common CSS preprocessors like Sass, Less and Stylus. Also there was an output in XML format that is supported in Android and JSON for iOS specific development. The Salesforce Design Tokens open-sourced at https://github.com/salesforce-ux/design-system.

The second interesting aspect of this was the use of GitHub to host the design system. Unlike the design system of traditional organisation, where the design system was hosted as downloadable form (even in the cases where the version control like Git is used) these have to be either translated into desired formats for the target platform or hosted especially along with the code. But here the design tokens representing the styles definition and the properties, as hosted on GitHub, were directly integrated into the build process contributing to the Continuous Integration and Development approach of development. In this sense, it was more as a Living System acting a single source of truth, from which the required branch is pulled and be made as a part of the build.

Many other pattern library and/design systems like RedHat’s PatternFlyhttp://www.patternfly.org is also available in similar approach at GitHub (i.e. at https://github.com/patternfly )as that of this second aspect we discussed now. But the idea of making the style guide being available as a SingleSource of truth in combination of this second aspect is what makes the case of the Salesforce design system unique among similar attempts for an approach to deliver a consistent design across different platforms.

(c) 2018, Samir Dash. All rights reserved.

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Rediscovering Accessibility for Future Tech!

This is a rediscovery of "Accessibility" in the world of touch-screens and other natural interfaces. With new technology innovation the lines between accessibility technology and Technology for Mass are getting blurred. What used to be a special need is becoming a general need for mass use.Situational Disabilities Use-cases are defining the new age devices, wearable & smart interfaces. High time we need to rediscover on "accessibility" what we think we have already discovered!

This is a rediscovery of “Accessibility” in the world of touch-screens and other natural interfaces. With new technology innovation the lines between accessibility technology and Technology for Mass are getting blurred. What used to be a special need is becoming a general need for mass use.Situational Disabilities Use-cases are defining the new age devices, wearable & smart interfaces.

High time we need to rediscover on “accessibility” what we think we have already discovered!

MakingSense: Reimagining the Next-generation Retails and e-Commerce Analytics platform

journey-consumerbenefits

 

 

In today’s ever changing world if we need to reimagine the next generation analytics platform for retail and e-commerce market, what it will look like? Well I gave it a go . Following is a conceptual framework (I call it  “MakingSense”) and a business case for an IoT based real time analytics framework for retail and FMCG market. The following post is presented as a real life business case:

 

 

 

 

Overview:

MakingSense” is IoT based market analytics platform to connect all goods and products (specially non-digital goods) that behave as fast moving goods to the cloud-analytics to get real-time market insights to make the required course correction for the market strategy and business decisions for the product manufacturers and retail chains. This enables a direct feedback model between the consumers with the producers and sellers.

 

The problem it solves:

As per current market trends, even high-tech goods like mobiles, digital accessories are behaving like FMCG in market. Rapid change is evident in consumer behaviour due to influence from technology, economy and changing buying power of the consumer . Speedy ‘go-to-market’ approach in the market from players in the market has increased the competition. Many local and niche competitors are giving tough challenges to bigger players in all segments, specially in emerging markets. For globl players the typical market strategy is not working in expected way. Traditional approach of market insights collection is not sufficient to apply the necessary check and balance for market plans in real time.

 

The 4 core needs that Making Sense will address are:

1.The manufacturers need market insights in real time

2.The consumer behaviour towards tech-goods is also needs to be tracked in real time to ensure how close they are behaving to the FMCG market behaviour.

3.In retail and non-tech sector the real time insights are needed for goods that are not digitally connected to analytics eco-system

4.Need to look beyond the traditional field immersions, surveys to get micro-insights for course corrections in strategy.

 

The solution and the business model:

The “MakingSense” platform will help product manufactures and retailers in gathering real time customer insights even for non-digital goods and helps adjust the customer retention dynamics . In retail and non-tech sector the real time insights are needed for goods that are not digitally connected to analytics eco-system. Need to look beyond the traditional field immersions, surveys to get micro-insights for course corrections in strategy.

The platform has self sustainable business model that will make it grow though benefiting the product manufacturers, retailers and the consumers. The final envisioned eco-system will have a big-data enabled management module in cloud, a super easy to use dashboard system for product manufacturers, retailers and consumers and mobile apps and easy integration public APIs along with one SMS enabled gateway.
The producers and sellers can register their products to generate specific code to their products category and if required can use the APIs to map their existing bar-code systems. The normal consumer can register themselves to generate the reward points and to be used directly in the registered retail chains or can redeem for some gifts from their dashboard itself.

The eco-system will allow the product companies and sellers to get real time analytics through creating data points directly.

 

 

Triple advantage benefits for consumers:
The incentivise/rewarding consumers for their feedback is what will make it more successful.
Whether the product the consumer gives feedback on is purchased from the registered retailer or not, he is definitely getting the reward points or freebies from the site.
If he purchases the product from the registered retailers, then he is getting additional discounts or reward points.
On top of it if the product manufacturer registers, then the customer is getting more discounts!

It’s a triple advantage for the customer.

Now, this is a new strategy where the customer is prompted to buy the product from specific manufacturer, from a specific retailers toget advantage of this.
While the whole aim is to get feedback and analytics running, this model also induces a new competition on product manufacturers to provide discounts to bring down the final competitive price to retain customers at the same time the customer is also getting benefitted.

This model is disruptive in nature where every one is getting benefited :

Manufacturer and Retailers – reduction in market research spending , getting real time-analytics — the mood of the segment- customer retention strategy formulation , attract customer to their outlets and
Consumer — reduction in home budget, get incentive, rewards for their feedback.

 

 

 

::Idea::

 

The “MakingSense” platform will help product manufactures and retailers in gathering real time customer insights in real time even for non-digital goods. In retail and non-tech sector the real time insights are needed for goods that are not digitally connected to analytics eco-system. Need to look beyond the traditional field immersions, surveys to get micro-insights for course corrections in strategy.

The platform has self sustainable business model that will make it grow though benefiting the product manufacturers, retailers and the consumers. The final envisioned eco-system will have a big-data enabled management module in cloud, a super easy to use dashboard system for product manufacturers, retailers and consumers and mobile apps and easy integration public APIs along with one SMS enabled gateway.

The producers and sellers can register their products to generate specific code to their products category and if required can use the APIs to map their existing bar-code systems. The normal consumer can register themselves to generate the reward points and to be used directly in the registered retail chains or can redeem for some gifts from their dashboard itself.

The eco-system will allow the product companies and sellers to get real time analytics through creating data points directly

:: Architecture:

The idea is about building an eco-system in multiple-phases that will have three components:

1. “MakingSense SmartCloud” — Cloud based server to store the data related to the consumers and host the analytic platform. This will have the following major components :
i. BigData analytic-engine that can do the necessary data mining to understand trends and formulate recommendations .

ii. Open REST APIs providing easy way to integrate third-party systems such as retail-management systems, third-party analytic and business process tools/apps.

iii. user management modules with different levels of access to different roles.

iv. Reward points management and coupon code management system.

v. Payment gateway and subscription and vendor management.

2.”MakingSense Portal” — Web-based portal/ thin-client solution that will allow consumers and product sellers/retailers who can register and access their respective dashboards

3. “Making-Sense client” — This is primarily mobile/device client and consumer facing service gateways (and optionally hardware) that can be used by the consumers to submit their feedback.
In the multi-phased development roadmap, initially the mobile apps will be primary representative of this section. Later phases will introduce SMS enabled gateways, custom “MakingSense” hardware, which will be cheap yet provide easier way to share data from the consumer.

 

:: User Journeys:

For Sellers (Retailers/Producers)-

1. gets account registered at ‘MakingSense Portal’.
2. get API if to connect to their card scanners /billing machines/users db/inventory/product catalog
3. gets products mapped to “Reward points”/discounts/freebies
4. product manufacture can offer discounts for their product using the API by registring their product

5.product manufacture can register their product to get insight for their product across globe
6.retailers get insight for their retails chains –anything sold though their system
7.retailers can buy insights (not customer details ) for other regions/ segments
8. product manufacturers can buy insights (not customer details) for competing brands and similar products

For Consumer –

1. Registers at the Portal — if he is from a retailer’s database, he can map his account to this system.
2. Connection to his SNS account (facebook) is encouraged (with some additional reward for it)
2. downloads free “makingsense” mobile app, and starts using
3. scan the barcode of any product he purchased and rates the product.
4. For each feedback on different (at least different batch of same product with in a specific time period range) the products, gets “reward points” or discounts codes or freebies coupon codes.
5. If retailers/product manufacturer has sponsored rewards, based on accumulated points, he can redeem them at their store. Else these can be redeemed at the “makingSense” dashboard at the portal.

:: Benefit:

For Sellers (Retailers/Producers)-

emerging market is the next potential
even high tech/high end goods are behaving like FMCG goods…
micro -insights are required to plan the market startegy adjustment
conventional type of large scale survey’s are not going to help much due to high cost and field immersion efforts and time.. — go-to-market is accelerating so ..time has value … micromax makes a phone in 70 days

So new age trend is required to gather data in real time ..to connect goods that are not even digital , we need those data
IoT will help in rapidly accessing this.

They get the following insight from the solution:

customer’s insight
————
who bought
how many times bought
which part of the year bought the most
consumer’s insight
—————————
liked? great – good – bad ?
what else he likes in the same product line ?
what similar product he uses?
what similar product he likes most ? what brands?
collective consumer insights
—————————-
how many such buyers are in the region who are potential buyer?
how is collective preference?

predictive market forecast
—————————-
in which part of the year the product consumption is going to increase — manufacture more and ensure smooth shelf-space management
who are competitor brands
how a product is behaving in a segment?
value curve?
what should be the status?

if connects to his SNS account/FB/retail shopers card — then u get location, age, gender, type etc. — new gold mine where every one will want to invest.

For Consumer –

1. Consumer is rewarded for any feedback he shares for any product he uses.
2. Apart from regular discounts, reward points the customer can get these additional discounts in purchase/freebies which can bring customer delight leading to more involvement and customer engagement (so no matter if consumer does not buy from registered retailers or products.)

 

 

 

 

 

:: Business model::

Business model is mostly through subscription based to access competitor analytics
Along with it the access to premium data and value added services like (customizable report, goal alignment, market strategy etc. ) can be a major source of revenue .

retailers get 100% discounts to access their data — all real time
retailers get 20-30% discount in viewing their competitor’s data in the same region or segment

retailers not listed in the program to have to pay full to get data for a segment
retailers not listed in the program can not view their data

consumer gets 2% bonus discounts or points to submit the feedback on every item he uses

 

 

:: Market Size::

As per ESOMAR Global Market Research conducted in 2011:

Global Spending on Market Research is 32 Billion USD.
Out of this Emerging Market share is 24% == 8 Billion USD
Out of this only Asia Pacific spending is == 5 Billion USD.

India & China are major share holders of 5 Billion USD
India == 40% of 5 Billion USD = 2 Billion USD

Based this 1st year
target in five 1st tier cities.
assuming 30% investment is done in these 5 cities == 0.6 Billion USD
assuming we get 30% of this share in 1st year == 0.2 Billion USD

That results in 100 Cr INR Revenue in 1st year .

 

 

 

:: Potential competitors & Competitive advantage of the idea::


Amazon Dash
Dash is a product by Amazon that allows to facilitate the consumer to order new products from Amazon store

 

 

Dash:

Hardware based + amazon portal is available for consumer to buy
Only limited to Amamzon portal
No-whitelabelled system — Amamzon uses it for it’s own usage.
It’s is NOT a feedback based model, the bigdata only shows which segment is purchasing which product.

 

Making Sense:

Special marketing-insight platform – unique and first of it’s kind.
Specially designed to handle multiple vendors, retailers and consumers along with reward points/incentive management model .
Unique analytics with predictive strategy formation
works across cross platform, outlets, cross multi-channecommercialal platforms both counter based or online.

 

SWOT  Analysis

Strength: 

Cross platform – mobile, tablet, PC, kosk, custom hardware
works across cross platform, outlets, cross multi-channel commerceial platforms both counter based or online.
Can appeal to consumers, retailer, manufacturers

Can be scaled from FMCG to insurance, banking/finance sectors.
Weakness:
New concept, new to the market — disruptive business model for market research where customers are incentivised for their feedback directly.
Requires fund to maintain the incentives/ rewards for the end-consumers.
Large scale imkplementation can bring meaningful results??????
Opportunities:
New unique business model.
Regional market is drib\ven by fragmented retail / distribution channels
Specially FMCG market is highly un-organised
Penetration of single super markets, and online selling is low.
Specially in India the coverage of super markets (Big Baazar, )
Market insights
Threats:
Dash making it’s platform focused on marketing research
Marketing research companies replicating this model– alternative models
Retail chains making their own platform — will get limited view only only their customers..still they need to spend more in their marketing agencies.

 

 

:: Why it’s a killer Idea? ::

The incentivise/rewarding consumers for their feedback is what will make it more successful.
Whether the product the consumer gives feedback on is purchased from the registered retailer or not, he is definitely getting the reward points or freebies from the site.
If he purchases the product from the registered retailers, then he is getting additional discounts or reward points.
On top of it if the product manufacturer registers, then the customer is getting more discounts!

It’s a tripple advantage for the customer.

Now, this is a new strategy where the customer is prompted to buy the product from specific manufacturer, from a specific retailers toget advantage of this.
While the whole aim is to get feedback and analytics running, this model also induces a new competition on product manufacturers to provide discounts to bring down the final competitive price to retain customers at the same time the customer is also getting benefitted.

This model is disruptive in nature where every one is getting benefited :

Manufacturer and Retailers – reduction in market research spending , gettingf realtime analytics — the mood of the segment- customer retaintion strategy formulation , attaract customer to their outlets and
Consumer — reduction in home budghet, get incentive, rewards for their feedback.

 

 

 

As per Tim Ambler of London Business School, “Marketing Productivity” is measured through the following 5 ponts :

1. routinely research consumer beavior?

2. routinely report research with financial matrics?

3. compare results with previously forecasted in business plans

4. compare with level achieved by your competitor using the same indicators?

5. adjust short term performance?

 

All of these are taken care in the  blue print of “MakingSense”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UX Simplified: Models & Methodologies: Digital Edition [Kindle Edition] ISBN: 978-1-3115-9110-4

My  recent title is available on Kindle for download. This book covers basic models and methodologies that are revolved around User Experience (UX). The discussed topics include User Experience, Information Architecture, User Interface, Usability models, User Centered Design (UCD), User Centered Software Design (UCSD), different Software Lifecycles (SDLC) and how usability models fit into SDLC models.

The details of the book are as follows:

UX Simplified: Models & Methodologies: Digital Edition
by Samir Dash
ISBN: 978-1-3115-9110-4
ASIN: B00LPQ22O0

Kindle Price (US$):$1.87
Kindle Price (INR):Rs. 119.00 includes free international wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LPQ22O0/ref=r_soa_w_d

 

 

UX Simplified: Models & Methodologies: Digital Edition [Kindle Edition] ISBN: 978-1-3115-9110-4
UX Simplified: Models & Methodologies: Digital Edition [Kindle Edition] ISBN: 978-1-3115-9110-4
Major topics included in this book are :

• Why “UX: Simplified”?
o The Diverse Disciplines: The ABCs of UX
o User Experience(UX)
o Information Architecture(IA)
o Interaction Design (IxD)
o User Interface Design (UI)
• Usability and Mental Models: Foundations of UX
o What is Usability?
o System Models
o What is a “Mental Model” exactly?
o Most-likely Mental Model
o Conceptual Model
o Challenges in Usability Measurement and Metrics
o A List of Factors for Generic and Consolidated Usability Model
o Heuristics:Measuring Usability
• Engineering and Design Processes: Usability and User Centric Approach
o Usability Engineering
o User-Centered Systems Design (UCSD)
o Usability Design
o User-Centered Design (UCD)
o Don’t get Confused: UCD vs UCSD
o UCD Models and Process
• Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC): Where and How User Experience Models fit in?
o Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
o Waterfall model
o Spiral model
o Iterative Development Model
o Agile development
o Challenges in UX Integration to Different SDLC Models
o Usability Designing Process
o How Usability Design Process Fits in Different Phases of SDLC?
o How UX Fits in Different Models of SDLC?
o Challenges with Agile model of SDLC to implement UX
o Lean UX and Agile Model
• Agile in Usability Design:Without Reference to SDLC
o Usability Designing Process
• Lean UX: Another Agile UX?
o The Beauty of Lean UX: Everything is familiar
o Foundation Stones of Lean UX:
o Lean Startup method: The concept of “Build-Measure-Learn”
o Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – Prototyping at it’s best in Lean Startup Method
o Principles of Lean UX

  • File Size: 1435 KB
  • Print Length: 86 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LPQ22O0

 

Lean UX : Another Agile UX?

Agile is the most popular and successful SDLC model as of today as it allows better scope in providing continuous and iterative refinement to the product. Historically when developers out of their frustrations with waterfall model turned to the growing Agile Movement to regain their control over the process, they found that “like its ancestors, Agile also didn’t take UX into account. Several of the Agile methods, such as Scrum and XP, recommended users sitting with the team during the development process, but that isn’t the same as design. Everyone who figured out how to get what they wanted from plugging UX into a phased waterfall approach was now struggling to work inside the Agile methods. The Agile principles, that focus more on communication and less on contracts, didn’t fit the status quo UX processes”.So efforts were made again to implement UX into Agile methods just like the way it was implemented into waterfall model . But it was not easy as , in waterfall model there are 2 things which helped implemented UX :

 

  1. The objectives of the project stays same from kickoff to the point where the finished product is launched.
  2. The designers created the set of design specifications as a contract which the developers had to implement into the final product.

 

And above two cannot be expected from Agile model as it is based on iterations and gradual exploration of what is best fit for the final product . On ejust simply cannot predict the final design from the start of the project. So many attempts were made to get the best agile SDLC practices that can incorporate the UX , before “Lean UX” was born.

 

As the above figure shows the documentation and guidelines are stripped to their bare minimum components, providing the minimum amount of information necessary to get started on implementation. Also Long detailed design cycles are discarded in favor of very short, iterative, low-fidelity cycles, with feedback coming from all members of the implementation team early and often.

 

 

Challenges with Agile model of SDLC to implement UX

There are several challenges in implementing UX in Agile model effectively and these challenges include:

  • Different approaches. Usability methodologies are centered on the user and holistic view of the user needs whereas agile methodologies take a broader view and focus on the stakeholder. Agile methods primarily focus on delivering working software early.
  • Different goals: Software engineers focus on the technical design, implementation the system where as UX practitioners focus on “developing systems so end-users can use them effectively”.
  • Organizational challenges: The agile methodologies focus on strategy where teams are self-organizing whereas UX focuses on a centralized UX groups within some organizations so that the needed practices, tools, and standards can be provided.
  • UX practitioners struggle to be heard: Many UX practitioners often complain that the results of their work are not considered in the design decisions and even if it is heard, there seems to be focus more on engineering decisions over the usability decisions.

Lean UX and Agile Model

 

Many of UX practitioners see “Lean UX” as the answers to the challenge we see in implementing UX into an Agile SDLC where it uses “taking the best parts of our current UX practices and redesigning them specifically for use in an agile world”. Lean UX, is about reducing waste in a process by removing it from the value chain of the usability process..

The proactive measures for border engagement in Agile model has paved path to a new and more practical implementation of UX discipline and methods called “Lean UX” Lean UX once blended with any exiting Agile SDLC, helps to “create a more productive team and a more collaborative process” .

 

The basic principles Lean UX uses to provide positive refinements to SDLC are through the following 3 foundation stones for it:

 

  1. Design Thinking:This foundation upholds the concept that “every aspect of a business can be approached with design methods” and gives “designers permission and precedent to work beyond their typical boundaries”.
  2. Agile Software Development: Core values of Agile are the key to Lean UX.
  3. Lean Startup method:Lean Startup uses a feedback loop called “build-measure-learn” to minimize project risk and gets teams building quickly and learning quickly

 

Lean UX and UX in Agile SDLC

 

“Lean UX” is seen as the answers to the challenge we see in implementing UX into an Agile SDLC. As discussed in the earlier chapters, Lean UX principles use “taking the best parts of our current UX practices and redesigning them specifically for use in an agile world”.

Lean UX solved many issues were even there with the practices and usability process used in waterfall and different derivative iterative models. In Lean UX practices, there is no more requirements for the “objectives will stay the same and that you can design for a single solution throughout the project”. Also there no more need for the designers to create bulky guidelines and documentations for the developers to be used as a contract. Rather the Lean UX practice upholding agile approach, only focuses on each independent design iteration as a “hypothesis” which has to be validated from a “customer perspective” and from a “business perspective” . The beauty here is because of the Agile process being followed, fast iterations can happen to quickly test hypotheses and get to a great design in the end of the project.

In context of a real world situation the Lean UX is something like:

“The traditional paper work is discarded, while the focus is turned to making sketches of the idea. Then the sketch is presented and discussed with the team. The initial prototype effort is very small comparing to detailed documents, so it’s easy to make changes. After it’s agreed internally, rough prototype is made and tested with users. The learning from users help refine the idea and iteration starts over again”

And this makes case for “collaboration with the entire team” as it becomes critical to the success of the product and the whole project.

 

The Beauty of Lean UX: Everything is familiar

No practice used in Lean UX is something new. Rather it is “built from well-understood UX practices”. Many of the techniques used over the time in various UX process and have the practical usability even today, have been packaged properly in Lean UX.

 

Lean UX is not Same as Agile UX

Lean UX is a totally different term than Agile UX.Lean UX details methods and their practical application in dynamic environment of a Lean StartupIt is the converging point for product development and business, through constant measurement and so called “learning loops” (build – measure – learn).

Agile UX defines update of Agile Software Methodology with UX Design methods. It aims to unify developers and designers in the Agile process of product development.

However Lean UX uses Agile UX methodologies, tools to coordinate their software development.

Foundation Stones of Lean UX:

The key ingredients of Lean UX which act as foundation stones for it are:

 

  1. Design Thinking:
    This foundation upholds the concept that “every aspect of a business can be approached with design methods” and gives “designers permission and precedent to work beyond their typical boundaries”.

  2. Agile Software Development
    Core values of Agile are the key to Lean UX. It forces on 4 major principles of Agile development to product design:
    • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: This principle louds the concept of exchange of ideas freely and frequently in a team. “The constraints of current processes and production tools are eschewed in favor of conversation with colleagues”
    • Working Software over Documentation:This focuses on bringing out solution quickly so that it can be “accessed for market and viability”.
    • Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation:Collaboration with teammates and customers builds consensus behind decisions which results in faster iterations and lessens heavy documentations.
    • Responding to change over following a plan: “The assumption in Lean UX is that the initial product designs will be wrong, so the goal should be to find out what’s wrong with them as soon as possible” and this helps in finding the right direction quickly.
  3. Lean Startup method: 
    Lean Startup uses a feedback loop called “build-measure-learn” to minimize project risk and gets teams building quickly and learning quickly. Typically startups are “free to build products in a manner which differentiate on quality”. Also startups can focus on “intrinsic value and usefulness of the product, rather than on a long list of mostly irrelevant features”. Startups have a distinguishable feature of reducing long product cycles into smaller, shorter chunks and validating these iterations with people that will use the products, actually opens the gate for important information needed to avoid expensive development cycles that come withsome kind of risk. ”The secret sauce of lean startup people is that they advocate for user experience research and design as one of the primary solutions to their business problems, and they do it using plain language”.

 

 

Lean Startup method: The concept of “Build-Measure-Learn”

The fundamental activity of a startup is to “turn ideas into products” at the first step. Next it has the aim to measure how customers respond and then to learn whether to pivot or persevere. So basically a startup’s success depends on this feedback loop. To be successful a startup has to accelerate that feedback loop. The feedback loop being employed here includes three primary activities: build the product, measure data and learn new ideas.

However the Lean Startup method employed in Lean UX , is slightly different – it’s basically about “Think-Make-Check”. The difference lies in the fact that in latter case the “feedback loop incorporates your own thoughts as a designer, not just ideas learned through measurement”.

 

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – Prototyping at it’s best in Lean Startup Method

Minimum viable product is a version of the product that enables a full turn of the Build-Measure-Learn loop with a minimum amount of effort and the least amount of development time. The MVP is, in fact, an early prototype that serves as a tool to learn and test the team’s assumptions.

 

 

Lean UX is where prototyping is best promoted, focusing the prototype on major components of the experience. Once created, it will be immediately testable by any and all users to start the feedback loop. In most of the case the fidelity of the prototype is not a road block, rather the only mission is to get a quick prototype that can be tested quickly. However where the need for better visualization has priority, the best practices and tools are used to develop high fidelity prototypes in shortest time possible.

 

Principles of Lean UX

There are some guiding principles behind Lean UX which can be used to make sure the methodologies used in a Lean process is on track.

 

  1. Cross-Functional Teams: Specialists from various disciplines come together to form a cross functional team to create the product. Such a team typically consists of Software engineering, product management, interaction design, visual design, content strategy, marketing, and quality assurance (QA).
  2. Small, Dedicated, Collocated: Keep your teams small—no more than 10 total core people as keeping small team has the benefit of small teams comes down to three words: communication,focus, and camaraderie. It is easier to manage smaller team as keeping track of status report , change management and learning.
  3. Progress = Outcomes, Not Output: The focus should be on business goals which are typically are the “outcomes”, rather than the output product/system or service.
  4. Problem-Focused Teams:“A problem-focused team is one that has been assigned a business problem to solve, as opposed to a set of features to implement”.
  5. Removing Waste: This is one of the key ingredients of Lean UX which is focused on “removal of anything that doesn’t lead to the ultimate goal” so that the team resource can be utilized properly.
  6. Small Batch Size: Lean UX focuses on “notion to keep inventory low and quality high”.
  7. Continuous Discovery: “Regular customer conversations provide frequent opportunities for validating new product ideas”
  8. GOOB: The New User-Centricity: GOOB stands for “getting out of the building” — meeting-room debates about user needs won’t be settled conclusively within your office. Instead, the answers lie out in the marketplace, outside of your building.
  9. Shared Understanding: The more a team collectively understands what it’s doing and why, the less it has to depend on secondhand reports and detailed documents to continue its work.
  10. Anti-Pattern: Rock-stars, Gurus, and Ninjas:Team cohesion breaks down when you add individuals with large egos who are determined to stand out and be stars. So more efforts should on team collaboration.
  11. Externalizing Your Work:“Externalizing gets ideas out of teammates’ heads and on to the wall, allowing everyone to see where the team stands”.
  12. Making over Analysis: “There is more value in creating the first version of an idea than spending half a day debating its merits in a conference room”.
  13. Learning over Growth: “Lean UX favors a focus on learning first and scaling second”.
  14. Permission to Fail: “Lean UX teams need to experiment with ideas. Most of these ideas will fail.The team must be safe to fail if they are to be successful”.
  15. Getting Out of the Deliverables Business: “The team’s focus should be on learning which features have the biggest impact on the their customers. The artifacts the team uses to gain that knowledge are irrelevant.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c)2013-14, Samir Dash

How UX Fits in Different Models of SDLC?

In my last post “Challenges in UX integration with different SDLC models” we explored about the challenges of fitting UX into different SDLC models. I would like to extend that discussion in the current post.

 

he pre-agile era saw many attempts of UX getting fitted into the waterfall and it’s derivative models of SDLCs. Such attempts by the many developers were natural outcome of the post-projects disasters, where ‘design’ was never the personality of “software product engineering” and the lack of usability doomed the products even after the initial set of requirements check list was fulfilled.

More demands for Graphic User Interfaces (GUI) in software application (due to GUI’s power to offer better visibility and power to the end users) tempted the developers to follow emerging UX practices which included a task to add “design phase” to existing SDLCs. Waterfall model was good enough to accommodate a notion of design in its phases and become popular despite its limitations (which later pave paths for Agile era). Most of the design approaches and techniques created during this era were having mostly a goal “to eliminate any deviation during the development process, by telling the developers exactly what we expect of them”.

Let’s see how different models of SDLC accommodated UX differently in the following:

 

Waterfall model

In this process the developers follow the different phases described in the previous section in order.


 

 

 

UCD components in Waterfall model:

Historically the waterfall model of SDLC can use the UCD components in its engineering process and the product to translate the “set of requirements into something beautiful”. It is relatively simpler and easy to spot the to spot the areas within different phases where UX can be easily fits in as each phases are clearly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this model once one phase is finished, it proceeds to the next one. Reviews may occur before moving to the next phase which allows for the possibility of changes. Reviews may also be employed to ensure that the phase is indeed complete; the phase completion criteria are often referred to as a “gate” that the project must pass through to move to the next phase. Waterfall discourages revisiting and revising any prior phase once it’s complete.

 

Spiral model:

In this model deliberate iterative risk analysis, particularly suited to large-scale complex systems happens at a predefined frequency. It emphasizes risk analysis, and thereby requires customers to accept this analysis and act on it. So the developers typically spend more to fix the issues and are therefore often used for large-scale internal software development.

The Spiral is visualized as a process passing through some number of iterations, with the four quadrant diagram representative of the following activities:

  1. Formulate plans to: identify software targets, implement the program, clarify the project development restrictions
  2. Risk analysis: an analytical assessment of selected programs, to consider how to identify and eliminate risk
  3. Implementation of the project: the implementation of software development and verification

 

 

 

Because of frequent risk analysis and more effort spent by the developer to analyze the risks accurately, the cost factor goes up in the project.

 

UCD components in Spiral model:

In Spiral model, the UCD design can work across different quadrants of activities. The first quadrant where the objectives are determined, the usability and user research can happen as this is where requirements are planned. In the second quadrant the activities involving risk identification can best use UX activities involving IA and prototyping. The third quadrant of development and testing can utilize consultation and usability testing. The final fourth quadrant of activities can be used for feasibility evaluation and setting up usability metrics and bench marking for the next release.

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Iterative development model

This method helps to develop a system through repeated cycles and in smaller chunks at a time, allowing software developers to take advantage of what was learned during development of earlier parts or versions of the system.

Incremental development divides the system functionality into increments (portions). In each increment, a portion of functionality is delivered through cross-discipline work, from the requirements to the deployment. The unified process groups increments/iterations into phases: inception, elaboration, construction, and transition. It identifies scope, functional and non-functional requirements and risks at a high level which can be estimated. 

Applying this model to multidisciplinary complex project with large volume can come with a risk as inability in the developers part to uncover important issues early before problems can spoil the project.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UCD components in Iterative development model

In this model each iteration cycle can be divided into different activities phases to incorporate UCD methodologies for UX integration. Each iteration activities block that are mostly split across concept, design, build and test phases can be used for different UCD activities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agile development

This is perhaps today’s the most widely used SDLC model. It uses iterative development as a basis ,but uses people-centric viewpoint through user feedbacks rather than planning as the primary control mechanism. The feedback is driven by regular tests and releases of the evolving software.

There are many variations of agile processes “:

  1. Agile Data (AD)
  2. Agile Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF)
  3. Agile Modeling (AM)
  4. Agile Unified Process (AUP)
  5. Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM)
  6. Extreme Programming (XP)
  7. Feature Driven Development (FDD)
  8. Scrum
  9. Usage-Centered Design (UCD)

 

 

UCD components in Agile development

This is the most popular and successful SDLC model as of today as it allows better scope in providing continuous and iterative refinement to the product.

 

Historically when developers out of their frustrations with waterfall model turned to the growing Agile Movement to regain their control over the process, they found that “like its ancestors, Agile also didn’t take UX into account. Several of the Agile methods, such as Scrum and XP, recommended users sitting with the team during the development process, but that isn’t the same as design. Everyone who figured out how to get what they wanted from plugging UX into a phased waterfall approach was now struggling to work inside the Agile methods. The Agile principles, that focus more on communication and less on contracts, didn’t fit the status quo UX processes”. So efforts were made again to implement UX into Agile methods just like the way it was implemented into waterfall model . But it was not easy as , in waterfall model there are 2 things which helped implemented UX :

 

  1. The objectives of the project stays same from kickoff to the point where the finished product is launched.
  2. The designers created the set of design specifications as a contract which the developers had to implement into the final product.

 

And above two cannot be expected from Agile model as it is based on iterations and gradual exploration of what is best fit for the final product . On ejust simply cannot predict the final design from the start of the project. So many attempts were made to get the best agile SDLC practices that can incorporate the UX , before “Lean UX” was born.

 

As the above figure shows the documentation and guidelines are stripped to their bare minimum components, providing the minimum amount of information necessary to get started on implementation. Also Long detailed design cycles are discarded in favor of very short, iterative, low-fidelity cycles, with feedback coming from all members of the implementation team early and often.

(c) 2013-14, Samir Dash

Challenges in UX integration with different SDLC models

There are several challenges in integrating UX design and related activities into a typical agile software development life cycle process. The most common problem is typically “ finding a balance between up-front interaction design and integrating interaction design with iterative coding with the aim of delivering working software instead of early design concepts”. This happens mostly because typical pure SDLC approaches primarily aim at “efficient coding tactics together with project management and team organization instead of usability engineering”.As Agile is more “a way of thinking about creating software products’ rather than being a specific process or methodology hints at the challenges of UX integration into it as  integrating user research and UX design with agile, is itself an “agile antipattern”.The very idea of SDLC being a process for developing software , traditionally never kept the “user” into a focus, or event kept any scope for methedologies that try to bring any component that is not considered as native ingredient of the process of creating a software product. The focus was always the “cost, scope, and schedule” that drive any traditional SDLC models including Agile. And sure enough this typically gives rise to the challenges for UX integration into any SDLC as project managers never try to upset the balance of these three by reducing costs, tightening deadlines, and adding features in the specification.

However even though there are many challenges in integrating UX design with agile practices, some researchers see “agile software development practices” as enablers for bringing UX design closer to software engineering and enhancing interaction between these two disciplines.

In Current State of Agile User-Centered Design: A Survey. HCI and Usability for e-Inclusion. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, (by Hussain, Z., Slany, W., and Holzinger, 2009), a survey of the integration of usability and UCD practices with agile methods reported that “the majority of the respondents found that usability and user-centered design practices had brought added value through improvements in the usability and quality of the end product. Development teams often report that they are better able to respond to the needs of the customer with agile methods, and their measured or perceived productivity has been reported to be better than development teams using traditional methods”.

 

Agile development

This is perhaps today’s the most widely used SDLC model. It uses iterative development as a basis ,but uses people-centric viewpoint through user feedbacks rather than planning as the primary control mechanism. The feedback is driven by regular tests and releases of the evolving software.

 

 Fig. 1

 

There are many variations of agile processes “:

  1. Agile Data (AD)
  2. Agile Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF)
  3. Agile Modeling (AM)
  4. Agile Unified Process (AUP)
  5. Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM)
  6. Extreme Programming (XP)
  7. Feature Driven Development (FDD)
  8. Scrum
  9. Usage-Centered Design (UCD)

 

 

Challenges with Agile model of SDLC to implement UX

There are several challenges in implementing UX in Agile model effectively and these challenges include:

  • Different approaches. Usability methodologies are centered on the user and holistic view of the user needs whereas agile methodologies take a broader view and focus on the stakeholder. Agile methods primarily focus on delivering working software early. 
  • Different goals: Software engineers focus on the technical design, implementation the system where as UX practitioners focus on “developing systems so end-users can use them effectively”.
  • Organizational challenges: The agile methodologies focus on strategy where teams are self-organizing whereas UX focuses on a centralized UX groups within some organizations so that the needed practices, tools, and standards can be provided.
  • UX practitioners struggle to be heard: Many UX practitioners often complain that the results of their work are not considered in the design decisions and even if it is heard, there seems to be focus more on engineering decisions over the usability decisions.

Usability Designing Process

While exploring through available scopes in different SDLC models, we can notice a set of common activities which can be combined together to form a generic Usability Designing Process. Basically there are four phases of the whole set of activities which can be tagged separately as follows:

 

1. Plan: This phase involves the following major activities:

  • i. Developing a Plan
  • ii. Assembling a project team
  • iii. Kicking of the project

2. Analyze: This can have the following activities:

  • i. Evaluation of scope
  • ii. Evaluation of existing product (if enhancements are planned)
  • iii. User Research
  • iv. Task Analysis
  • v. Persona Development
  • vi. Scenarios evaluation and prescription
  • vii. Define measurable goals

3. Design: This is phase where some out puts related to the actual product are generated:

  • i. Product/ Site requirement analysis
  • ii. Conducting a content inventory
  • iii. Performing card sorting
  • iv. Information Architecture (IA) formation
  • v. Writing for web
  • vi. Parallel design
  • vii. Wire framing and prototyping
  • viii. Usability Consultations to programming team

4. Test and refinement: This is a phase that can be applied to multiple phases of SDLC as it is mostly about usability testing :

  • i. Usability Testing
  • ii. Heuristic Evaluations
  • iii. Implementation and retest

 

Note that the above phases are not the phases we discussed regarding different SDLC processes. Rather these are the phases that can paired with different phases of SDLC processes depending on the SDLC model used. Typically Usability Designing Process is led by the “usability designer” with the team of field study specialists, user research specialists, usability evaluation specialists, prototype developers, interface designers and graphic designers along with other specialists from related disciplines that varies from project to project.

 

How Usability Design Process Fits in Different Phases of SDLC?

The different blocks of usability design process can be mapped to different process blocks of any SDLC model. The following diagram shows a generic model for typical process blocks for the typical iterative SDLC model.

 

 Fig: 2

 One thing to keep in mind is that process is not a complete product development process as it does not out put the final product at the end of the process cycle. Rather Usability process supplements to any software development life cycle at various stages.

Plan or Ideationand Requirement Analysis Phase: In this phase while the technical feasibility is being evaluated, UCD contributors can assist product management by conducting user research with people in the target market to evaluate target user goals, tasks, and workflow. Requirement analysis phase is also aided by the UCD experts in careful review of the gathered data and preparing metrics that can be used in the development phase.

Design Phase: UCD contributors who are skilled at interaction design, visual design, and information design create mockups or prototypes of portions of the system, and contributors who are trained in usability evaluation assess the designs by subjecting them to usability testing.

Build or Development Phase: UCD contributors are usually called upon in a consultative or interpretive role, meeting with the developers responsible for actual implementation of the product, and providing guidance for underspecified areas of the product. In this phase the UCD contributor’s role is to remain the consistent user advocate throughout the project. When negotiations must happen during design and development of a feature, the UCD contributor reminds the team of the design persona (the “design target”, or user group at which the feature is aimed), helps the product manager identify and weigh the risks of leaving off certain areas of functionality, etc.

Integration and Testing/ Verification Phase:UCD experts help in benchmarking usability tests popularly known as “summative evaluations” that evaluates performance of the system /product developed on several grounds. The metrics of this test is typically based on the “error rate for users as they use the system”, the “time it takes to attain proficiency performing a task”, and the “time it takes to perform a task once proficiency has been attained”.

 

 

(c)2013-14, Samir Dash