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Scrum: The role of the User Interface designer in the whole process

This was interesting. Some years back, we used to do a Waterfall system, and we used to have the concept of the User Interface Designer being part of the initial process of working with the requirements in order to create a workflow document, as well as prepare the actual dialogs that would be part of the application. And the first time that I spoke to somebody about using Scrum, she was experienced with Scrum to some degree (but on a different project) and send me a slideshow that would explain the basics of Scrum to me, and then I was supposed to do a back and forth with her so that I could get answers to my queries and understand what this beast called Scrum was all about (this would be expanded into a formal training for the entire team, but this was just the preliminary aspect before the actual decision about whether to start using scrum or not). So I did the slideshow and the voice-over, and after the initial shock about the reduced role of the managers and the increased responsibility to the team in terms of actual execution decision making, one of the items that I really found missing was about the role of the User Interface Designer in the process. After some discussion, the team explained about how they were working with the User Interface Designer.
An immediate shock was that even though the User Interface Designer continues to play a critical role, the actual work done by the designer is not captured in the overall list of tasks that were planned and estimated during the Sprint Planning. The way that the team worked with the Designer was in a previous Sprint (or sometimes even 2, depending on the time taken during the Sprint). The idea was to work ahead with the Designer so that during a later Sprint Planning, the actual workflow and even the wireframes were ready and the developer and the tester had to do coding and testing of the task. Some of these activities were planned outside of the Sprint Backlog, and the time of the some of the developers and testers had to be reduced in order for them to work with the Designer. Another important assumption was that the Product Owner would have to decide a bit in advance as to which is the features for the forthcoming Sprint.
So, what happens in terms of activities. Right during the start of the project (or even earlier), the User Experience designer would need to work with the team and the Product Owner to do a high level planning for the Product in terms of the overall UI look and feel. This could mean creating some mockups of proposed dialogs (I have known a couple of teams which do put in some effort for the UI designer in the First Sprint, but could not get other teams to confirm on this one) and reviewing those with the Product Owner and the team until there is agreement (or until the UI Designer can get them to accept that he is the decision maker on the Workflow and look and feel).
And then, as the Product Backlog gets prioritized to the next set of features and User Stories, the designer would need to work with the Product Owner and some members of the team to figure out the actual dialog and workflow for the features (all this is in advance of the Sprint in which the actual coding for the feature would need to happen). This may again be iterative and the time of developers and testers would also be required, but once this is done, the team have a great design that they can use as the basis for estimating during the Sprint Planning and then code and test against that. There would be the need for a high level of interaction between the UI designer and the team during the whole process.

P.S. This account was based on the experience of a couple of teams. If you work with the UI designer during your Scrum based methodology in a different way, please do let me know.

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