Get out more often

get-out-thereToday we had our kick-off day of one of the biggest projects in my career so far. The – and I will not call it a redesign – newest (nextlevelshit) version of NU.nl. The biggest and most popular news site of the Netherlands. So I am a little bit psyched to be honest. Not your everyday website if you consider that the most popular NU.nl article of 2013 beats the most popular article of The Guardian…. So it’s a good thing to have somewhat of kickstart to get us going. At first I was a little bit sceptic, wasn’t a whole day a bit too much? I mean meetings that takes more than an hour usually end up in my cancel/decline list. Same goes for meetings with more than ten persons. As you may have noticed I am an efficient and time boxed kind of person đŸ˜‰

But boy was I wrong. Today felt more like a workshop than a bunch of big meetings tight up together. It was both inspirational and motivating. A good time to look back and look forward. Get feedback from our developers and learn from the earlier projects we did in 2013.

The kick-off was held in another place, away from office space. Our Agile way of developing was put under the microscope and we started looking at things we could improve. Our UX manager stated that in previous projects it was hard to track progress, because of functionality of website parts she was missing.

We started working in re-usable website fragments a year ago. To utilise responsive design and freedom to fill a website based on the needs of the PO. The problem our UX manager stated that we started to tend more at creating user stories based on website fragments rather than on an actual user story. So whenever you would take a look at our website in lets say sprint #3 of one of our projects the website would look rather empty. Great functionality all over the place and deployable, but did not represent a complete website. Not necessarily a bad thing – because it was planned this way – but usually postpones (great) feedback until the end of the project.

So by taking a step back we said to each other we should more focus on user experience, business goals and less at technical website fragments. So a good MVP (Minimal Viable Product) would be to have a search box, without the autocomplete. List of photos rather than a fancy swipe-able carousel thingy. Maybe not as sexy as you would like at first, but gives a better perspective on progress than empty places/placeholders on your website.

Our method was not as bad as it may seem, because it still served the same business goals. The end result will probably also look the same, but the progress within the project will change.

Such feedback you will normally get from your retrospectives, but this problem wasn’t mentioned like this before or the solution wasn’t as clear as before. Days like these facilitate out-of-the-box thinking by getting out of your comfort zone.

So get out more often, read some books, take some workshops/trainings whatever helps you for looking at your work with a fresh and open mind. Also your user-story is your holy grail, really. No I mean really.

PS. Tomorrow we have a Google Glass hack-a-ton so stay tuned as I will share my experience on this blog.

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  1. January 10th, 2014

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