Best way to incorporate usability testing into Agile Methodology

This was a question brought up in a slack channel I belong to and I thought it might make for good discussion over here too.

“Does anyone have any advice on how to incorporate usability testing into an agile project?”

"I was just watching a UX presentation that was saying testing should be a part of every sprint, otherwise if you only do major acceptance testing at the end you are essentially back to a waterfall methodology and it’s often too late to incorporate any learnings back into the product design. I understand there are various levels of testing (some are better suited for the last stages perhaps) but continual review and testing by users is, according to this one expert, an essential part of every sprint. What do you think? As someone learning UX principles, I found it very interesting "UX in an Agile Process • Janne Jul Jensen"

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@Lukcha has just informed me that Steve Krug is about to run a workshop on this very subject! It’s in Melbourne, which won’t be very useful for you @SteveCrow, but here are the details for anyone else that is interested.

I’ve just sent Steve an email in the hope that he’ll have a few minutes to give us his valuable insight here, but I imagine he’s a ridiculously busy man, so no promises.


@hawk Can’t go to Melbourne but I did have time to scan this although I am not sure if the author was simply being sarcastic with this image caption or if they had really lost the point:

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@SteveCrow I work in an Agile environment and the important thing to remember is that UX and Testing do not need to held until the entire product is completed. We generally have UX Requirements Tasks that apply at the beginning of any new functional capabilities and then UX Validation Tasks that fall at the end of new functional capabilities. The goal here is to make certain that we begin by figuring out what we want to do and then end by validating that we’ve created what we set out to create.

Additionally, it sounded like you were saying that Testing and UX are the same thing which is not inherently so. There is such a thing as UX Testing which is intended to provide feedback on quality but Technical Testing is definitely a separate task in our group and is used to make certain that the solution actually functions properly in all the situations it shoud.

Rules probably shift some based on the size and shape of your team but that’s how we do it at IntelliDyne, LLC.

Oh yes, I totally get that UX related testing and what might be called “acceptance testing” are really two different things with the later verifying that the initial functional and performance requirements were met while UX testing has a much broader focus.

I was just impressed by the speaker’s point that some form of UX testing/ user testing should be incorporated into EACH sprint although I do understand that in the real world, users may “burn out” if asked every 2 weeks to come in and validate the user experience.