Kanban for UX Design: Great Match07 Jan 2016
User Experience design process may seem far from the original ideas that some people still associate with Kanban - manufacturing, stock management or software development processes. The reason Kanban works for knowledge work too – with UX design being an example here - is thanks to Kanban's natural way of splitting even the most fluid and technically difficult to describe processes into visually distinct steps.
User experience design and monitoring process involves some unattainable values, such as "user happiness", "user's feelings towards the product". Furthermore, taking into account the difficulty associated with the very building of a system that would manage going through this design process – having process stages spelled out and visualized is what makes Kanban a great match to follow the UX design process with.
It can also be of great help when trying to set up a stable process for this kind of work. Starting with the basics, more steps and conditions can be added as you go and identify them. This bases on the same rule that Kanban's continuous improvement paradigm.
Understanding the problem
A typical approach to UX design starts with answering the question: "What problem are we trying to solve with this product?". Having a common place to store the possible ways of answering it, to comment and brainstorm on them is simply convenient. Answers can be given value points, counted, sorted and prioritized, which will make the next design stage all that much easier. Involving all of the team on a common speaking ground is key all the more in times of remote work and flexible working hours.
The ability to further extend the visual aspect of things
Thanks to task card attachments - since all information in visual form reaches our brains quicker and more effectively - adding visual attributes to the cards speeds the process further still. The serious UX design processes involve doing a whole lot of research before making technical design decisions. A visual board, accessed by all on the team is the perfect place to gather, share and analyse the research.
Instead of asking the team "how long till we see feature X?" - you're only taking a look at the board and all is clear. You also instantly gain knowledge of who to ask for any information about the process, since items on the Kanban board are usually user-assigned.
With process items always pasted on the board, teams and stakeholders can always jump in and make comments, ask for changes or review their suggestion' implementation with no problem. Having this visualized also gets rid of the issue of having to explain what you're referring to or searching for the right info or person.
Iterate and reuse
Most UX design processes go round and are being repeated after some time, which is why having the process recorded and visualized works perfectly for giving it another use after a set time had passed. Steps or whole processes can be even marked as standard, that require re-doing iteratively or are used for each product as a template.
A visual Kanban board is a great way of getting the UX design process set, up to date and successfully functioning. Do make sure to try integrating Kanban with all aspects of the process your product goes through, it will work magic in all stages, not only UX design!
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