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Agile Interaction Design

Posted by Wed, 30 Aug 2006 19:36:00 GMT

6 comments Latest by Adrian Howard Mon, 04 Sep 2006 18:52:57 GMT

I would like to start some dialogue with all of you…

In a recent post, Jeremy Voorhis said the following about About Face 2.0 in his post announcing his Agile Book Club.

About Face 2.0 isn’t bad; it’s full of some great advice. My biggest gripes with it are the follows:
  • It declares that programmers are just unfit for interaction design.
  • It advocates for waterfall development.
  • Cooper has a defensive tone whenever discussing his beloved discipline of interaction design.
  • The web chapter is dated.
If you can get over all of those things, it is full of great ideas, specifically about working with personas, and data entry and retrieval.

I disagree with a few of these conclusions. In particular, that Cooper advocates waterfall development. I’ve been hearing a lot of developers throw the word, “waterfall” around… but why?

Take the following excerpt from this great conversation between Kent Beck, the father of XP, and Alan Cooper.

“During the design phase, the interaction designer works closely with the customers. During the detailed design phase, the interaction designer works closely with the programmers. There’s a crossover point in the beginning of the design phase where the programmers work for the designer. Then, at a certain point the leadership changes so that now the designers work for the implementers. You could call these “phases”—I don’t—but it’s working together.”[1]

I’m curious as to how anyone would consider this to resemble Waterfall, which might imply that Cooper’s approach to Interaction Design is incompatible with the principles behind the Agile Manifesto.

Dave Churchville posted an article last year titled, Agile Interaction Design?, which discussed how the role of an Interaction Designer (ID) can be compatible with Agile methodologies. “An ID team probably becomes the voice of the customer in Agile methods, and as such should be working closely with the development team as well as the users. In that sense, the ID role may be more of a liaison between customer and developer.”

So, do you think that Interaction Design as described by Alan Cooper… is compatible with the principles of the Agile Manifesto?

UPDATE It looks like this conversation was picked up on the Joel on Software discussion boards.

1 http://www.fawcette.com/interviews/beck_cooper/page8.asp