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Posted on March 16th, 2008 by
Around the time Alan Cooper was giving his really great talk An Insurgency of Quality at this year’s IxDA, I was giving a talk that came to some of the same conclusions from a different starting point. Among the many points Cooper covers in his 40 minute key note address is the question of process, how to marry interaction design process, which tends to be more waterfall-like with software development process, which tends to be more agile-like. His view is that interaction design should work iteratively with what he calls design engineering, the portion of the process where the system is engineered and the code is initiated and tested, and that production engineering, the portion of the process where all the bits of code are assembled should follow and is a more RUP or waterfall-like process. Turns out we, and I suspect many other web development shops, have discovered the same thing that Cooper had. To paraphrase:
Before I saw Cooper’s talk I prepared this diagram for mine. In it you can see an Agile-like process that is bookended by Waterfall+like processes. In the last five years I have worked on several projects that more or less followed the process I outlined and it is the process we use on all of our development projects.
Cooper is right, when interaction design connects with design engineering the result is a far superior product. In my experience, it also makes for a far happier project team. Everyone is far more engaged, including the client.