One of the questions I often get from our clients is, “What kind of designers or user experience specialists have the appropriate experience or skill set for working in an agile environment?”

In general, there are a number of different but related specialties in this field, the broadest definition of which has tended to be “user experience.” Some of these include user experience (UX) research (understanding what users do and want and translating that into appropriate feature sets and designs), information architecture (IA) (organizing information, search and navigation theory, site structure, etc.), graphic design (visual representation of information or ideas), interaction/user interface (UI) design (visual design of interactive systems), and web design (front-end coding and scripting expertise in HTML/CSS/Javascript along with some UI design chops). Those who call themselves User Experience (UX) Designers often blend information architecture and UI design skills, and occasionally possess some coding ability.

There are two basic models that you most often see for these folks in an agile environment:

1. One widely experienced person in each team that blends a bit of all of the above, who would likely be called a UX/UI Designer or something of that nature. Some teams just have developers with skills in interface design, so the particular title differs widely, but it will likely have “designer” in the title.
2. A central UX group that helps multiple teams with user research, common style guides and UI design, often lending their members part-time (roughly 30-50% in many cases) to help execute designs within certain sprints.

More info on UX basics (and hiring) can be found here:

· An overview of what UX looks like in Agile teams: http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2011/04/integrating-ux-into-agile-development.php

– Arlen

Questions?