Should designers be using agile?

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.

  • richarddale

    I definitely think mobile sites have their place. Many of the sites I built prior to RWD, static sites that view great on desktop and tablet. Its only when you get down to smart phone size that things start to break down. For many of these sites a mobile specific site would probably work better than a RWD site where I could be more focused and target the medium specifically.

    I did a RWD e-commerce website recently and although the end results were good, trying to get the shopping basket working and looking correct whilst being responsive was a nightmare and I couldn’t help but think that a mobile specific site would have been a better solution. When I browse the web using my iPad Air I never visit a fix width website and think this is a poor user experience why don’t they have a RWD site. I ony ever think this when on my iPhone.

  • sanedevil

    I am not a web designer, but have a team that is building one for me. So in trad way, I have to have a “web designer” design the site in Photoshop which is then handed to “web developer” to generate code.

    You can imagine there are several problems w this – time, costs, rework, code doesn’t do what the design shows etc.

    I hit upon your blog while thinking if there are tools that would eliminate the design-to-code step

    I very much agree w the house and would love to know the process and tools to help achieve this.

  • David R

    The simple answer is yes, a website must be responsive and also Google is focusing more on responsive websites, a static design
    web development firm still works OK in most cases when you have separate mobile friendly website.