Erika Burrows, PMP, PMI-ACP has a diverse professional background that includes being a 9-1-1 operator, a supervisor in an automotive factory, an enumerator for the U.S. Census Bureau, and a college English teacher. She has more than 15 years in project management, software development, and marketing and advertising; has worked in Dubai, Bangalore, and all over the United States as a project manager for an engineering firm; and served as the Senior User Experience Specialist and UX Team Lead for a Fortune 500 utility holding company. More recently, Erika has turned her focus to Agile, helping to transform several large companies. Erika currently serves as an Agile Web Application Development Manager for Palmetto GBA, a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina that specializes in government contracts.

Erika has spoken at regional, national, and global conferences including DevNexus, BST Global Users Conference, the Society for Technical Communications (as former president of the East Tennessee Chapter), and the Modern Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature Conference. In addition, she has served as guest instructor and guest speaker at the University of Tennessee, the University of Toledo, and others.

Erika holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Toledo and a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee; considers herself to be a writer by trade; and enjoys spending time with her husband Wayne, their five children, and their six grandchildren.

User Experience Tricks of the Trade

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. User Experience is certainly one of the latest buzzwords, but…what do User Experience professionals actually do?

Honestly, most UX folks, especially generalists, do a little bit of everything - from user interface design and information architecture to usability studies and market research. This workshop concentrates on one of the most important things UX professionals do: help businesses focus on the customer.

In this workshop you will roll up your sleeves and actually participate in some UX research activities. You’ll learn how even a little bit of customer interaction can lead to huge insights… and then you’ll learn how to interpret those insights and incorporate them back into your Agile project.

Information for Review Team:
In the first activity, the participants will play the role of the customer. I guide them through a couple of exercises to create an outline of what customers need and want from a product. I’ll use an accessible example, like a web application for paying a bill online.

  1. In four or five areas around the room, put a piece of poster paper on the wall.
  2. Split the participants into groups.
  3. Have each group fill in boxes on the paper to describe the attributes of a particular kind of user but focus on the tasks that user needs or wants to accomplish (like a brand new user who needs to pay a late bill). This includes describing what helps or impedes them from doing their task. It also includes describing the user in useful ways (this person is typically early 20’s, in a hurry, has kids, etc.)
  4. Rotate the groups to add/subtract/move things from the previous groups list.
    Once this is complete, I’ll demonstrate how this information can be used to create a “quick and dirty” persona, as well as describe how additional research can be combined with this activity to create a more formal persona.

Finally, I’ll lead the participants through an activity where they play the role of the business trying to prioritize stories. I’ll show them how they can use the personas to help guide them and how to help avoid common the trap of thinking that just because they know the business intimately they automatically know what the customer would need or want.

Prerequisite Knowledge:
General Agile knowledge, particularly SCRUM framework, is assumed.