What kind of research documentation is most useful for agile teams? What I have seen to work best has been lightweight documentation. This would be using a wiki to record issues, focusing on debriefs, circulating transcripts, and getting everyone to observe tests. However, I find that there is a great deal of pressure in the UX Community to track all of our findings in a database.
Here is what I think:
- With limited resources, it’s not practical. I think tracking usability issues in a database is a great idea in theory, but in practice I haven’t seen it work out so well. We managed a “usability findings database” in a previous job, but it was unfortunately never used… Researchers spent a great deal of time maintaining the database, but designers never referenced it. Researchers would even walk through the database with designers, but designers would always say watching a fresh new study was so much more insightful.
- It doesn’t align with lean/ux principles. Agile development values working software over documentation. I think this means it is more valuable to *see* someone using your design. It’s becoming easier and easier to test working software, prototypes, etc. (using unmoderated testing, live-intercept recruitment methods, etc.) Instead of documentation, we should be focused on debriefs, discussions, and getting everyone exposed to users…
- Old usability issues get out dated — fast. I don’t think we should base today’s design decisions on data we collected a year ago — the web is changing so fast, as well as our products. We should be putting our focus on ‘exposure hours’ getting designers exposed to users more, which has a direct, proven impact on making products better and better. Some of the issues I found even a month ago, in an iPhone study, are no longer valid, since we’ve made updates to the products…
Here’s the real truth: the only documentation that is necessary is in the form of *user stories* on product backlogs. Period.
What has been your experience tracking usability issues? Check back at a later date for further thoughts on UX Documentation.