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A DevOps beginner's guide for user experience professionals

If you're a UX pro brand-new to DevOps, you might wonder where to begin. UX columnist Jason Grant offers a step-by-step approach for designers who are DevOps newbies.

DevOps increases an organization's ability to deliver applications and services at a greater pace. Customers now...

expect this continuous delivery of bug fixes and new features, but they also expect seamless experiences. Disappoint them and they can abandon a transaction, rethink the app altogether or trash it on social media. Customer experience has never been more important, but it can be tough for design leaders who are DevOps beginners. Here are seven steps to make it easier to navigate your journey into the DevOps world.

1. Look to the organization

Since this is a cultural shift that includes people, processes and technology, the organization needs to drive the change and encourage collaboration at every level. DevOps beginners should prepare to work right next to their colleagues at every stage in the process.

2. Understand the strategy and success criteria

A user experience (UX) pro must understand what the goals of the application are and what success means. Designers need -- and like -- to move quickly, but in a DevOps world, it's vital that everyone moves toward the same goal. Do the research necessary to understand the needs and desires of the customer. Then, create a beginning-to-end workflow for each service that can be a reference for designers, developers and operations.

3. Reduce the need to reinvent the wheel

Create a design system. It will accelerate the design process and unite designers and developers around a common visual language. Invest upfront, and build a collection of repeatable components and a guide to describe the design rules and patterns. This will allow designers who are DevOps beginners to be more nimble and developers to integrate components faster.

Bringing UX into DevOps

4. Collaboration is key

Designing alongside application developers allows UX pros to understand technical limitations, while the devs can better understand why decisions were made. This results in less need for thorough documentation, produces functionality that aligns with user needs and requires fewer sacrifices from both designers and developers.

5. Prioritization requires team input

Incorporate UX into DevOps, and you will have the unique opportunity to experience the benefits of continuous measurement.

The choice of the next bug, function or service to work on is important, and each member of the team must understand the different constraints and dependencies. Sometimes, new features need to be delayed in order to fix existing features, and other times, the backlog items are good enough and something new should be developed. Having UX provide the voice of the user in this decision process adds another important viewpoint to consider. This is a place even DevOps beginners can really add value.

6. Don't release without testing

Detailed success criteria captured in strategy or design enable integrated UX test monitoring in a DevOps model. Any team member -- even a DevOps beginner -- should be able to read the success criteria and determine if the user's needs will be addressed by the functionality. Additionally, heuristic evaluations must become part of the solution validation process to determine if accessibility, general UX rules of thumb and performance metrics are addressed.

7. Always seek feedback

Embrace the opportunity afforded by DevOps to get rapid and reliable feedback from customers, whether through embedded tools, logs and/or customer outreach. A smaller feedback loop allows for constant validation and can help find new bugs, decide on improvements or amend future requirements. Incorporate UX into DevOps, and you will have the unique opportunity to experience the benefits of continuous measurement.

This was last published in February 2018

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