Brushing up on basics
First off, let us brush up our knowledge of ‘scrum’ a little. A scrum is a strategy (or better called a framework) used for active software development; where the entire work is divided into small parts that are to be completed in fixed time periods known as ‘sprints’. Each sprint is generally two to four weeks long. It has the following basic components:
• Product owner: The person who actually owns the project. He/she lays down the desired qualities in the software and hands it over to the scrum team
• Product backlog: This is the list of desired results that the product owner prepares and gives to the scrum team
• Scrum backlog: This is the list of tasks selected by the scrum team from the product backlog that is to be done within the current sprint to achieve the desired results in the product backlog
• Scrum Master: A scrum master is the one who guides the scrum team through the sprints and helps smooth operation of the tasks and removes bottlenecks, if any, faced by the team. However, a scrum master is not the ‘leader’ of the team, and can only guide them.
• Sprint: A sprint is a period of usually two or four weeks in which the tasks on the sprint backlog have to be accomplished
A scrum team consists of programmers, developers, software experts, UX designers and sometimes even UI designers. People always tend to mix themselves up while trying to understand the difference between a UX designer and a UI designer. A UX designer (user experience designer) is responsible for designing the efficiency and effectiveness of a product or project. Whereas, a UI designer (user interface designer) is responsible for the task of determining the overall look and feel of the product or project.
It’s now as well as later!
Usually, UI designers are not considered a part of the scrum team, and this should change. This is because, though they are responsible for designing the interface of the current project, they are also involved in the basic planning of projects for upcoming sprints. If they are a part of the team, it will help the scrum team when they move on to the next sprint backlog, as they will have something to start with to help them accomplish the tasks of the next sprint.
Also, considering them a part of the ‘current’ scrum team working only on the ‘current’ sprint backlog is not correct. But this contradicts the freedom of working in today’s dynamic environment, where, for necessary futuristic solutions, keeping ‘future’ considerations in mind while working on ‘current’ tasks is inevitable and just as necessary.
An infamous example
UI designers are responsible for designing the overall interface that the end-user would experience in the final product. A bad design would lead to a confused or even complicated interface that the end-user may find difficult to use. This would undoubtedly generate negative reviews from the user community. An infamous example is that of the computer operating system Windows 8, developed by the Redmond giant Microsoft. Windows 8 was designed with the future in mind, but they got into the future way too much. It had a UI that was best-suited for touch-enabled devices and given the market of not-so-popular touch-screen desktops then, most of the user community complained of feeling alienated while using the OS on their non-touch desktops.
Designing the software UI is no piece of cake. Making UI designers a ‘part’ of the scrum team would give them an insight into what they are designing (with business context), inculcate in them a sense of ownership, which in turn would help boost their morale and motivate them to work better. This is a very basic business concept in ‘engagement’.
Moreover, not including UI designers in the team because they work for future sprints is meaningless – it is just carrying today’s issues into the future. Instead, they must be in the current project lifecycle. Designing the software UI is in no way less important than developing or programming the software.