Reality is Messy

Over-optimization is a problem.

foundational UX work doesn’t […] lend itself to predictable, repeatable processes […] by definition it deals with unknown, slippery, hard-to-define problems […]

The holism necessary to do foundational UX is antithetical to the assembly-line chunks of user behavior agile requires.

Design coverage in Fast Company is hit or miss, but early advocate for UX Jesse James Garrett shared a clear-eyed take on the state of the UX profession.

Businesses are trying to hyper-optimize their development processes because engineers are expensive, and good ones hard to get at any price.

Agile development sells businesses hope that they can make every minute of every two week sprint productive. What businesses are missing is Agile only works if there’s no uncertainty. It only works if you do the pre-work to break the well-understood tasks down into intelligent pieces.

Agile doesn’t accommodate the people and processes that deal with uncertainty. Internal measures of employee productivity (“velocity”) assume all problems are the same. But the world your products exist in is messy.

UX processes allow a business to investigate uncertainty. They allow you to understand what problems to solve, and discover the most likely ways to solve them successfully. Ideally, these processes are not the sole domain of “designers” but involve many roles, as everyone impacts the user’s experience with your product. The more broadly the holistic knowledge of the problem is held, the better each role can benefit to the outcome.

Without it, those expensive engineers are building expensive guesses. Efficiently.