UX vs. Agile 21:42 on Thursday
Roma – I Fori Imperiali: Mostra – Roma – L’ invenzione dei Fori Imperiali – Demolizioni e scavi: 1924-1940. (23.07. – 23.11.2008). [Supplimentry documentation]. Roma di Mussolini – A. GAURO AMBROSI, Aeroritratto di Benito Mussolini aviatore (1930)., originally uploaded by Martin G. Conde.
Bumped on this bit in a discussion thread about user experience practices and agile processes:
Do architects design the buildings while the bricklayers are laying bricks? Would you fly in an airplane that was designed as it was built? Of course not. So why should complex systems be any different? Larry Marine
I’ll start with the second most important reason: It should be different because the user interfaces and web apps we’re mostly talking about in conjunction with user experience are evolving, dynamic things. The basic functionality of a modern airplane was designed tens of years ago, for buildings you can add a couple of zeros to that number. Even the modern details of an airplane were probably designed, and specifications locked years before starting constructing planes for clients.
What about a social networking site then? The “must have” functional details are changing every week, and you can’t really talk about an agreed framework of basic functionality.
Let’s take a car for another example. A car model is first designed, then built hundreds of thousands of times. This doesn’t mean the first prototypes of the car were not built while it was designed. And redesigned while it was built.
The beauty and curse of building “live” software is that you only build one copy. You design and then build. But you also build and then design more. It has versions and iterations, but unlike mass produced things like cars or airplanes, there’s (usually) only one product in use. If requirements change, you don’t start a new design process which ends with a locked spec, then start a new manufacturing process. No, you change the product live. And that’s why agile works for software design, but not necessarily for buildings and airplanes.
The first most important reason is, that in the heat of developing a cool new web app, it is often forgotten that unlike with an airplane, a mishap in the design doesn’t kill anyone. In fact, even the worst possible outcome of neglect is often insignificant, considering life at large.