• Research needs to be done before development so we can make sure we are later developing the “right” thing.
  • Research takes a lot of time and it is almost impossible to have our findings in one single sprint. Design researchers need to plan & logistics (sometimes we might need to buid a prototype to test experiments) + recruit participants (dependency on participant’s availability here) + run the research study (where some are longer than a sprint! Especially if you are running an ethnography or an observational study) + do the data analysis (which also depending on the study can take time) + create a report or some way to communicate the findings to your team. As you can see, Research effort really needs to be broken down into smaller steps.
  • The way I've always worked in an agile team was using the Dual track agile approach but I’ve been seeing from SCRUM specialists that it isn’t a good approach because it puts design and research one sprint ahead of development which makes it a bit waterfall.

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So, What is the best way to include UX research (and even UX design) tasks in an agile team’s backlog? How can we make research and design work better with development in agile teams? Did you encounter the same situation with your teams? If so, how did you solve it?

I initially thought spikes could also be an answer for UX research but I’ve learned they aren’t because spikes should be done as exceptions. Besides spikes should be time-boxed and they shouldn't take more than 1 sprint.

Thank you so much in advance for your help,


1 Answer 1


The Scrum framework says little about product design. The Product Owner is a single person who is accountable for developing and communicating the Product Goal, creating and communicating Product Backlog Items, ordering the Product Backlog Items, and ensuring that all stakeholders have transparency and visibility into the Product Backlog. The Scrum Guide is clear that there is a single person who is the Product Owner. There could be a whole team of product managers, designers, analysts, and others who support the Product Owner in making the best decisions to optimize the Product Backlog for value delivery.

The work that is included in the Product Backlog represents changes to the product. I would consider much of what falls into UX research and design to be figuring out what goes into the Product Backlog and not things that would be put into the Product Backlog. One exception would be work needed to design and implement something like A/B testing, since that typically involves making changes to the product and deploying those changes to a live environment to capture data.

Refinement is the process by which you transform the ideas that come out of product design activities into suitable Product Backlog Items for development. Technical design begins with refinement and continues through the time when the Product Backlog Items meet the Definition of Done. Spikes aren't a part of the Scrum framework but are a supplemental practice that could help a team organize, visualize, and track specific work that would otherwise be considered refinement.

The model for how to organize product design from technical design/delivery depends more on your organizational structure. Larger organizations are more likely to be able to staff product management and UX design organizations than smaller organizations. Organizations that put products on the marketplace are structured differently than organizations that have teams building bespoke products. There's not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach.

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