I recently reread an interesting article by Jeff Gothelf about the assertion that Agile Development doesn’t have a brain. The most striking point in the article for me is that Agile teams don’t have a way to determine what features to build, whether they were the right ones, and whether they were built effectively.
As a developer myself – I agree with that completely. When I’m wearing my developer hat, I excel at answering the question “How can I do that?”. I’m not so great at answering the question “Should I do that?” or “What else could I do?”.
In waterfall development, requirements come from a team dedicated to writing them, specifying them and preparing deliverables for development. I’ve seen plenty of evidence that ‘requirements writers’ are experts and writing requirements, but not necessarily asking the questions Jeff posed above.
The best way to answer the “What should I do” question is to find out from the target users. But there is a problem here too – they are no better in the abstract at answering the question than anyone else. As Henry Ford said, if he listened to his customers he’d be building a faster horse.
The problem is that even users and potential users often don’t know what they want, or understand what’s being proposed, until they see and experience it. But using prototyping tools like ProtoShare, you can create concrete experiences for users. You can watch them struggle or succeed with your creation. And you can iterate quickly until you accomplish your goals.
Even better – with a tool like ProtoShare, you can spread this experience to your entire team. Everyone – from executives to developers to QA can use ProtoShare to experience and collaborate on creating better software solutions. This is why some of our most successful customers start referring to ProtoShare as “the Brain” of their development processes. ProtoShare becomes the repository of understanding for the entire team.
When you create a shared vision and a shared understanding among your team and your users, you’ll stop building the wrong features. Want to answer the question of what you should build and how you should build it? Use rapid prototyping to try a range of ideas, and hone it into a product that delights your users.
UX professionals are perfectly positioned to lead their teams and organizations to improving visualization practices, but anyone on the team, from executives to interns can contribute. Just start. Crank out ideas and share them. Your team will wonder how they ever did it any other way.