Volkswagen is currently facing one of the biggest transformation processes in the company's history: the transition from car manufacturer to e-mobility provider. This change is facilitated by a rapid design and development process based on the principles of agile software development.
In addition, it is a central goal to include the user in the product development more to reach a higher degree of customer orientation and an extraordinary user experience that will inspire VW customers.
Volkswagen approached us with the request to develop a UX design and quality assurance process that matches the corporation's agile process model. At the beginning of our collaboration, user research and usability testing were not part of the sprint planning and often only took place shortly before the release. Due to full backlogs, uncovered usability and user experience problems could not be solved until numerous sprints later. Furthermore, the planning, preparation, and execution of large UX tests with up to four field days required a high level of resource input from design teams and product owners.
Together with VW we developed an agile UX testing format that meets the requirements of agile software development: The User Days.
Two to three days a month are scheduled during which users from the relevant target groups are available for user research on-site in our test studio. Only the dates and schedule of the User Days are fixed, but not the topic. The agile product teams can decide spontaneously to which questions about user needs or design ideas they need user feedback in the current sprint. Research method, format and devices for testing are not fixed, but are always selected based on the respective questions:
The effort for preparation on the side of the agile teams is kept to a minimum. After a kick-off via web conference, the design teams can work on prototypes or drafts for the User Day until the last day.
On the User Day, we rely on close cooperation with the agile teams. Designers, product owners and developers observe how the users interact with their product. The results are evaluated directly after each session, guided by an experienced user research team. Immediately after the User Day, the revision can start. Thus, possible UX weaknesses can be eliminated quickly. We reduce the documentation to a minimum. Since all project members are brought together, the knowledge about user behavior and usability issues is already in everybody’s heads.
The User Days have become an integral part of the UX design process at Volkswagen. The small iterative test rounds can be perfectly integrated into sprint planning and are enthusiastically requested by the product teams. Some teams now iterate design drafts within one or two days and can directly test the optimizations with users. In this way, UX Design is harmoniously combined with the agile process model.
Invaluable for the interdisciplinary, agile teams is to be on site together and to observe the users during the User Days. Problem-oriented discussions result in spontaneous collaborations across departmental boundaries that have an impact beyond the User Day. Suddenly solutions for problems are developed that no discipline could have solved alone.