Friday, February 20, 2009

Use Adobe Connect and Confluence Wiki For Agile Design

My product team and I just completed a critical two week design session for the next release. Our user experience designer from Germany flew to Bangalore and I joined the team via phone and Adobe Connect from California.

On day 1: The user experience designer came prepared with basic design screens based on our prior customer discussions. We had a few CLOUD level summary use cases written on the Confluence wiki.

We then started the discussion at the summary level use cases and added SEA level use cases and some FISH level use cases to the page. While the discussion were going on the UI designer composed the UI on here computer while sharing her desktop with everyone else via Adobe Connect.

So all along the discussion about the workflow, everyone could see the proposed basic UI design and shape their questions and conversations around the use case and the associated UI screens. This was very effective.

I took charge of the use cases and expanded them where required. In some cases we realized we need new use cases and created new ones. As more and more use cases emerged, we grouped them by actors and summary use cases.

At the end of each 3 hours session, I sent a summary email with the use cases that were changed along with the action items if any. The development team added comments and thoughts below the use cases posted in the wiki.

We then started adding UI images to the use cases. The user experience designer added images to the use cases.

On day 10 we went through the use cases one by one, reviewed the completed UI screens and marked the use cases as complete. Some were identified for future discussions.

We concluded the design process we followed was very close to the agile software design model. Iterative design, frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, a set of engineering best practices that allow for rapid design of high-quality software, and a business approach that aligns design with customer needs and company goals.

2 comments:

  1. Mike Tschudy6:39 AM

    Sounds like an amazing experience for a local team let alone a distributed one. A couple of questions:
    - what was the effort necessary to get everyone aligned with the working style and the "live" designing of use cases and hi?
    - will you be validating the use cases and mocks with users and potential customers before you start coding?

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  2. The UI designer and I had worked together for the previous release. So we already had two strong proponents for this approach. I took the UI desginer and the two lead development team members to customer visits together. So they had seen each other face to face and knew each other very well. There were some murmurs initially from the team. But once I took on the role of owning the use cases and maintaining them, they saw value in it. It took about two weeks for them to understand the process and see the value in it.

    On day 9 of the design sessions, we invited a partner to the session via Adobe Connect and shared the UI with him. He reviewed it and gave his feedback.

    The final UI will undergo a full usability test with 3 customers.

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