Combining interaction design with agile methods

TAMK’s interaction design student Vappu Leinonen has studied in her final thesis “Interaction Designer in Agile World” how the shift from traditional waterfall process models towards agile methods in software development affects the work of interaction designers.

“It has been a widely known fact for a long time that the waterfall model does not work in ever changing situations, which are the essence of software development. Developers created agile methods as an answer and they have proven that it works. But when they created agile methods, they forgot one thing: the design.”, Leinonen writes.

“Interaction design is an important part of creating software, but agile does not even suggest anything related to that in the process descriptions.” According to Leinonen the combination of agile and interaction design is not so simple as it may sound to be. “Both have to give up on some principles in order to gain something more: a better product for the end user.”

Leinonen did a case study about the process model, which is used by one project in Nokia Devices R&D. “The survey results show that while interaction designers don’t have big issues with the process model, they are too busy to fully concentrate on the design work and they feel that they are not yet part of the scrum teams. While agile methods might seem threatening from interaction designer’s point of view, they have proved to work much better than waterfall process model. With agile methods it is possible that the final product will actually be what interaction designer intended it to be.”