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A

Accessibility

Accessibility - building products and services so that anyone can use them when they need to.

This includes people:

  • who have a disability or condition
  • with English as their second language
  • with low literacy
  • who are not confident using digital technology

Agile

Agile is a way of working which helps teams to work together to achieve their goals. People with different roles work together in teams face-to-face or remotely. The team use agile methods to meet the user need, test early and change direction if there is evidence to support it.

Projects include lots of short activities and regular reviews. This is so that it is possible to make changes to products before they are too established. Progress is measured against achieving outcomes, not completed tasks.

Agile is not only about having stand-ups and using post-its. It’s important to have the right team roles, collaborative working culture and agile methods in place.

Agile methods

Tools, methods or activities which help people to work in an agile way. Agile methods create shared understanding and allow teams to use data and insights from users to inform decisions about what to focus on next.

Agile principles

12 principles that provide the foundations for working in an agile way. The practice focuses on creating spaces where teams can continuously learn, improve, grow and produce.

Align thinking

Make sure that everyone has a shared understanding of what the team is doing or trying to achieve.

Alpha

The stage of a project where you try out different solutions to a problem. The product or service may only have minimal features at this point. The idea is to test whether the concept works for the user before spending time and money developing it. Alpha comes after the Discovery stage and before the Beta stage.

Assumption

Something we assume to be true about our users or product. Often this is tested in research.

Assumption mapping

A technique to work out what we do and do not know about our users. This helps to decide what to focus on first for research.

B

Beta

The stage of a project when you build on a minimal product or service. At this point you test whether it is accessible and useful for users. You might also add features, increase the scale of the product and make it more robust.

Beta comes after Alpha and before the Live stage.

Business optimisation

The ongoing and gradual improvement of products, services or processes. The approach promotes continuous improvement as a way of life for the team and its members.

C

Ceremonies

Team activities which help teams to communicate and keep up-to-date with developments. These include Stand-ups, Retros, Show and tells.

Collaborative working

A way of working that values time for the team to work together. Team time focuses on doing the work, not meetings to discuss progress. In agile and service design, teams discuss progress and how they are working in stand-ups and retros.

Community of practice

A group of people who are interested in learning about a topic or job role together. Communities of practice (CoP)s aim to meet regularly and stay in touch through messaging groups in between.

Members of the CoP take turns to run the sessions. CoPs are safe environments where members can contribute without worrying about criticism.

Content designer

A content designer writes content that:

  • who have a disability or condition
  • with English as their second language
  • with low literacy
  • who are not confident using digital technology

They are not usually responsible for interactive design in the team.

Content designers work collaboratively in agile teams and may support the team with service design, user research and interactive design if they have skills in that area.

Continuous improvement

Continuous improvement can mean different things but it’s always about making things better. It could be continuing to test and improve a product or service after it goes live. It could be continuing to improve the way the team works together.

The important thing is that team makes decisions on what to improve together after considering all of evidence. It’s not based on one person’s opinion or request.

Crazy eights

A way to generate lots of ideas to solve a problem in a short space of time. The method involves generating 8 ideas in 8 minutes.

Crits

Sessions to help designers and content designers to review what they are working on. Team members share ideas early in the process so that they can use the team’s feedback to improve it before showing it to users.

Cross-team working

Members of different teams working together on projects to share skills and ideas. For example, a team member from the ecommerce team could work with a team member from membership. They could share what they have learned about accessibility from user research on apps.

Cross-functional working

Teams that include people with different roles working together on a product or service.

This might include content designers, service designers, interaction designers, researchers, delivery managers, front end developers, business analysts.

D

Data

Information that the team analyses and uses to make decisions or to show how the product is performing.

Delivery manager

The delivery manager leads the team on agile and lean practices. They use agile and lean techniques to help the team keep learning and focus on delivering value towards the product vision.

Delivery metrics

Product or service outcome goals that allow teams to reflect on progress and make data-driven decisions for future actions.

Agile delivery metrics always focus on outcome not output.

Delivery plan

A delivery plan details the work the team is just about to do. It is different to a project roadmap.

Design crits

Sessions to help designers and content designers to review what they are working on. Team members share ideas early in the process so that they can use the team’s feedback to improve it before showing it to users.

Design thinking

Design thinking provides a solution-based approach to problems. It’s a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.

In design thinking teams aim to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and define problems. By working in this way they find solutions quickly and can change direction if they need to.

Discovery

The first stage of a project when the team works together to understand the problem they are trying to solve. Teams define user groups, think about any obstacles they might face, do some rough costings and sometimes do initial user research.

The team decides whether the benefits of fixing the problem outweigh any costs and risks.

The Discovery is the first stage of a project and comes before Alpha.

Dot voting

A quick, democratic way to prioritise and refine lots of ideas using dots.

Double diamond

The Double Diamond design model was launched by the Design Council in 2004. The model includes 4 phases of product and service development. It helps teams to make sure they understand the problems they are working on, use evidence to make decisions and test early versions of solutions in the user’s environment.

E

Experimentation

A quick way to test and an assumption or idea using a simple prototype.

F

Facilitator

A facilitator runs a workshop or session, creating a safe environment for people to contribute freely and equally.

Feedback culture

A working culture that encourages people to seek constructive feedback. It’s important that feedback is welcome and provided in a way that someone is comfortable with.

Framework

An approach, structure or methodology for working in an agile way. There are lots of different frameworks but all involve delivering by making small changes regularly.

H

How might we

A how might we statement that helps teams think about problems to produce ideas for user research.

The team creates prioritises the statements together during a how might we session. This helps the team to understand which ideas to focus on next and why they are working on them.

Hypothesis

A statement that helps teams address the problems. The team creates prioritises the statements together during a hypothesis session. Using hypotheses helps teams to estimate the impact of solutions and assess the risks before they take any action.

I

Inception

A series of team activities that they do before starting a new piece of work.

The purpose is to:

  • align the team and stakeholders around a clear goal
  • agree how the team will work
  • build relationships
  • establish a safe environment for the team to work in

During an inception the team creates a list of tasks which work with the product roadmap.

Insight

An in-depth understanding of why users behave in certain ways. The insight helps the team to make decisions on product or service development.

Iterative design and development

Improving design or development in short stages with regular feedback from users. The result depends on the team using evidence to meet user needs.

K

Kanban

The term Kanban comes from a Japanese manufacturing term. It helps teams improve productivity by focusing on a problem area and reducing the amount of work that a team has in progress.

Kanban board

A way to visualise the work that a team is doing based on the Kanban technique. It can be a physical or virtual Kanban board.

A simple Kanban board has three columns; ‘to do’, ‘doing’ and ‘done’, but there are different versions.

The term Kanban board is often shortened to just Kanban

Kick off

A series of team activities that they do before starting a new piece of work.

The purpose is to:

  • align the team and stakeholders around a clear goal
  • agree how the team will work
  • build relationships
  • establish a safe environment for the team to work in

The team creates a list of tasks which work with the product roadmap during a kick off.

L

Lean thinking

The term Lean comes from manufacturing and the Toyota Production System. Lean focuses on minimising waste and maximising value. It focuses effort on activities that provide immediate value to the customer.

Learning culture

A learning culture encourages continuous learning and applying learning to the way teams work day-to-day.

M

Mission

The high-level goal that describes the outcome that the team wants to achieve. It is not about the tasks that the team needs to do.

Multi-disciplinary teams

Teams that include people with different roles working together on a product or service. This might include content designers, service designers, interaction designers, researchers, delivery managers, front end developers, business analysts.

O

Observation

A statement that communicates something seen directly in research.

Objectives, Key Results (OKR’s)

A collaborative goal-setting tool the team use to set challenging, ambitious goals with measurable results. They are used to track progress, create alignment, and encourage motivation towards goals.

P

Paper prototyping

Creating rough or hand-sketched drawings of a design to get quick feedback.

Teams use paper prototyping to test an idea or concept without investing too much time or effort in creating a functioning version.

Point of Departure

An activity for all of the team to do at the start of a new project or piece of work. The activity aims to align the team around the purpose of a project, a shared goal and agree how they will work together to achieve it.

Principles for working together

The standards your team sets on how you want to work with each other.

Priority mapping

A way to prioritise work when introducing and building new features.

Product

An item created for sale or use. It can be a physical or digital item or service.

Product backlog

A product backlog is a list of work for the team. The most important items are at the top so the team knows what to deliver first.

The product backlog is a single source for things that a team works on.

Product lifecycle

The lifecycle of a product from inception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal, retirement or replacement of the product.

Product manager

The project manager is responsible for aligning the team around the product vision. They prioritise the product backlog items which have the highest value to the user and to the business.

Product owner

The product owner is responsible for the return on investment (ROI) of the product development.

Product roadmap

A product roadmap is a plan for how a product or solution will develop over time.

It provides context for the team's everyday work and responds to shifts in internal priorities and the commercial world.

Multiple agile teams may share a single product roadmap.

Prototype

A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product that the team uses to test a concept or process.

A prototype could be paper, clickable designs or code.

Psychological safety

Teams create an open environment so that they can work together to:

  • express opinions without being judged
  • take calculated risks with the support of the whole team
  • experiment with different ways of working
  • create a culture of feedback

Q

Quantitative data

Measurable data and facts which teams analyse to look for patterns.

Methods to collect quantitative data include online surveys, paper surveys, mobile surveys, kiosk surveys, face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, website surveys, web analytics, online polls, and observing behaviour in a quantitative way.

Qualitative data

The result of primary research which produces non-numerical data.

The process of collecting qualitative data is sometimes unstructured. It can be time-consuming but leads to in-depth findings.

Qualitative methods usually:

  • involve interacting with people directly
  • focus on the ‘why’

R

Retrospective

Retrospectives or ‘retros’ are regular sessions which help teams to reflect on the work that they have been doing. They also give the team chance to find ways to improve the way they work in future.

It is important that retros include a retrospective prime directive

Retros happen every two weeks. When teams are working in sprints they do a retrospective at the end of each sprint.

Retrospective prime directive

A retro facilitator refers to a retro prime directive at the start of a retro to help to set expectations. It helps create a positive culture where everyone can learn and improve without using blame.

Example of a retrospective prime directive:

‘Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.‘

The Prime Directive, Norm Kerth

Robotic Process Automation

Robotic process automation creates processes using software robots or artificial intelligence. It is sometimes called software robotics or just automation.

Roles and responsibilities

Teams often do an exercise to define each member's roles and responsibilities at the start of a new project. This could be part of an Inception or a Point of Departure exercise. A team member might have an overall role, like content designer, and do some service design and research if it helps to support the project.

S

Safe environment

A working environment when people feel free to express ideas, try new ways of working and work without worrying about failure or negative criticism.

Scrum

An agile framework for developing, delivering, and improving products or services. It promotes working in short work cycles and using regular feedback to improve products using evidence.

Scrum includes a set of meetings, tools, and roles that help teams to structure and manage their work.

Scrum master

The scrum master is the owner and driver of the Scrum process, helping teams to adopt scrum values, make changes quickly and perform in the best way that they can.

The scrum master is a facilitator and coach. They encourage continuous improvement and remove barriers for the team.

Service design

An approach that puts the user at the centre of a product or service and focuses on meeting user needs.

It is based on design thinking which includes teams working together to:

  • understanding the problem
  • create a number of possible solutions
  • use research to inform decision making
  • keep making small iterative improvements to products and services

Service mapping

Service maps show a user journey for your product or service step-by-step. Teams work out all the user’s interactions with the service including the parts that a user can and cannot see.

Teams can use service maps to help visualise an existing service and help to identify improvements. They can also use them to map out how the service could be better in future.

Show and tell

An opportunity to share your team’s progress with a wider audience. Show and tells usually have a regular slot each week, fortnight or month.

Show and tell content includes the things you've been working like live demos of the product, working prototypes or research findings. It’s also an opportunity to show what didn’t work so you can share the learning with other teams.

Showcase

A demonstration of what the team has been working on to key stakeholders.

Sprint

A short, time-boxed period when a team works towards a key outcome. Sprints usually last one or 2 weeks.

Stakeholders

Anyone with an interest in the product who is not part of the team. These are the people who help the team fund, develop, release, support and promote the product.

Success criteria

Things that that a product do before the user, customer, or group of stakeholders accept it. Success Criteria make sure that the work meets the user and the business needs.

Stand up

Short team meetings that last between 5 – 15 minutes at the start of the day.

Everyone in the team has an opportunity to say what they’re working on, share problems and ask for help. They should happen at a time that suits the team. If people are working remotely, they can join the meeting by video call.

Storyboards

Storyboards sketch the stages of a user journey. It helps teams to visualise how their users might interact with the product or service.

T

Team canvas

A visual or board that shows:

  • the goals of a team
  • the skills within the team
  • the way the team works
  • the team values

Team health

A way for teams to monitor, measure and improve performance. The priority is developing relationships and behaviour within the team, not the work.

Test and learn

The team produces the simplest thing possible to learn what works and to reduce the risks of doing the wrong thing. They then apply the learning to the next version of the product or service.

U

Users

Groups of people who need to use the product or service that you are working on. Users could be colleagues, customers, Co-op members or the general public.

User needs

Things that users need from a product or service to get the right outcome for them. User needs help teams to make decisions when they create products or services.

User research

User research helps teams make decisions by providing them with information about evidence-based insight into their users’ behaviours, experiences and needs. User research involves gathering information directly from the people who use the product or service. It includes collecting quantitative or qualitative data or a combination of the two.

User Researcher

User Researchers gather information from users about their behaviours, needs and motivations. They help teams to make decisions based on evidence. They are often the voice of the user within a team. User researchers help to make sure that products and services are understandable and accessible to everyone.

User stories

User stories describe what the user’s needs from a product or service and explore ideas for solutions. The team produces a number of user stories so that they can prioritise them and focus on what is most important for the user.

V

Velocity

Velocity is the amount of work a team can tackle during a single Sprint and is a key metric used in Scrum.

Vision

The outline of a team’s purpose and what it wants to achieve. A good vision statement is short, simple and easy to understand. It should be ambitious and realistic.

W

Waterfall

The waterfall approach breaks project activities down into linear phases. Each phase depends on the delivery of the previous one. It is useful in industries like construction or when it is not possible to make major changes after a project starts.

Ways of working

Ways of working describes how a team works together and the processes and methods they use to get work done.

It also describes the behaviours and culture within the team.

Week notes

A brief description of what the team has been working on that week. It might include results from research, photos of activities and reasons for decisions.

All of the team contribute to week notes if they are working that week.

Working in the open

Teams communicate openly about what they’re working on and how they're working, including successes and failures. This includes sharing what they learn from user research and how this helps them to make decisions.

Working in the open helps teams to get feedback and give them confidence that they are working in the right direction. It also leads to better trust with stakeholders and confidence that the team is delivering value for users. Examples include show and tells and week notes.

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