How to UX the Agile Way

Achieving meaningful outcomes within an agile development environment.

by Gion Kunz

Gion Kunz

  • Developer with passion to do meaningful things
  • I help my clients with Front-End Development and UX awareness
  • Teacher for web development and UX engineering at the SAE Institute in Zurich
    • Web Design / Developer generalists
    • From user research to Experience Mapping to J.J.G. Elements of User Experience
  • Author of Chartist - Simple, responsive charts

Founder, UI Developer, UX Enthusiast at syncrea GmbH


If I am not in the Web universe, I ❤ watching DEEP space.

Triangulum Galaxy M33, ⟷ ~2.5 Mly , Ø ~60 Tly, 12. October 2018, by Gion Kunz

If I am not in the Web universe, I watching DEEP space.

What is this talk about?

  • About UX Design
  • You are the experts!
  • I've worked in different environments, with different agile development teams.
  • Pragmatic UX process that works in agile development teams.

The Problem

The Problem

The Perfect Team

  • Cross-functional
  • Small, dedicated and co-located
  • Self-organizing and empowered
  • Informed and transparent with assumptions
  • Constantly questioning status quo



The UX Deliverable

  • Most clients expect a UX deliverable
  • Magic Mock-ups
  • Screen Designs
  • The "Big design upfront" trap

How engineers see UX designers...

Magic UX Design Unicorn

We need to collaboratively experiment while validating our assumptions over and over again to achieve meaningful outcomes.

Case Study

  • Swiss finance company, payment solution
  • Mostly heavy duty back-end engineering
  • Big design upfront as deliverable by agency
  • 3 in-house SCRUM development teams



  • Highly political environment
  • Rigid processes with management board and strong directives
  • System centered design
  • Design by fiat
  • Design by mimicry
  • Missing trust in new approaches
  • Right before go-live, after 2 years development, trashed whole UX / UI and Front-End work
  • Team of 3 People built prototype in 2 weeks, UX / UI, Front-End and pitched internally
  • 3 month time for re-building everything from scratch UX research, UI design, Front-End development

Crashing the Party

Okay, Let's sprint for 3 month!

Guerrilla InterviewS

People usually just love to put in their two cents.

User Journey

Experience Map

User Centered Design

Elements of User experience

How to make Ux agile?

The missing piece is, combining design and development to conduct more comprehensive experiments and validate our assumptions.

Agile UX Process

Usagility: Combining Agile Software Development with Lean UX

Methods for macro UX

UX5 - UX7

  • JJG: Structure, Skeleton and Surface on a high level
  • Conduct all workshops with the whole team
  • Try not to work on features but the basics
  • Style Tiles for visual design
  • Design systems

Methods for micro UX

UX8 - UX10

  • Focus on individual features
  • Always design for the next development sprint
  • Try to build independent systems which work holistically
  • Run Lean UX Assumption workshops for just those features
  • JJG Elements of UX: Workshops with the whole team

Usability Testing day with Brown bag meeting

Test your sprint increment on a testing day, discuss the obvious problems and adapt.

  • Perform a few short usability test sessions with real end users every sprint
  • Watch max 45 minutes of recordings with team over brown bag lunch
  • Each team member writes down the most obvious problems observed
  • Prioritize with whole team and move top issues to backlog

5 users will find 85% of usability problems when testing continuously.

Key Effects

  • Observed user behavior, trumps most politics
  • Observation, analysis and prioritization is best done with the whole team
  • Long term educational effects of the whole team observing user issues and resulting UX solutions
  • It perfectly works within an agile environment, findings will be prioritized into product backlog


  • End-to-End Experiments: If you want to validate assumptions about outcomes, you need to have something end-to-end!

  • Inclusive Process: UX design is not magic created by a designer unicorn, it's a process best done by the whole team, including developers.

  • Agile: UX design can be and should be done in an Agile development environment!

  • Lean: Follow Lean UX practices and let developers be part of the assumption workshops.

  • Sell a Process: Try to pitch with small prototypes and style tiles and try to sell the process not the product.

Let's create together.


Usagility: How to UX the Agile Way

By Gion Kunz

Usagility: How to UX the Agile Way

Following a simple UX process can make a tremendous difference in how meaningful the experience of your product or service will be.

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