Should designers be using agile?

Paul Boag

Increasingly web developers are using similar agile development practices as those found in the software sector, but should designers be joining them?

Agile development has grown in popularity over the last few years among web developers, and understandably so. Working in short iterative sprints saves extensive research and documentation phases, encourages a culture of testing and iteration, and produces tangible results fast. It also breaks the project mentality where websites are left to slowly decay once launched.

Unfortunately agile is not without its challenges, especially when it comes to user interface design. Many designers complain that agile is so intent on addressing the immediate goals of a particular piece of functionality that it fails to look at the bigger picture. When working in self contained sprints many designers feel they are not thinking holistically and ensuring a consistent user experience across the whole site.

There can also be problems ensuring designers deliver the assets developers need in the timeframes allowed in most sprints. The feeling is that work can end up being rushed.

Therefore my question is whether agile can actually work for designers, and whether they should be expected to fit into this methodology when working with agile developers?

This is our debate topic for the week:

This house proposes that those designing websites should adopt the same agile development process as the developers they work alongside.

So what do you think? Are you a designer who works using agile principles? Have you tried and failed? If you are a developer who uses agile, what is your experience of working with designers who do not? Most of all, do you agree with the house and why have you taken the position you have? Let us know in the comments.