How do you know you’re developing the right product? This talk will help you think creatively about how to do customer development using Agile and Lean User Experience methods. I’ll share what we learnt about using rapid, iterative prototyping techniques to develop a minimum viable product at a software conference.

In August 2012 we attended Kscope, a conference for Oracle developers. Instead of doing the usual product demonstrations, we turned our stand into a “live lab” and took Agile development processes out of the office and in front of our customers. Our stand included an area for customer research, a Kanban board and information radiators in the form of a whiteboard, blank wall and a large digital screen. Over 3 days we ran 9 sprints and conducted 25 customer interviews, using a paper prototype to get feedback. We collected invaluable information about our customers’ development environments, how they work with their teams, their processes, tasks and pain points. By the end of the conference my colleague had developed an interactive HTML/CSS prototype which potential customers could evaluate. The team went through several rapid build-measure-learn cycles to improve our product concept and validate the market need.

I’ll cover the benefits and pitfalls of doing live design and development in front of potential customers and competitors. For example:

• doing guerilla research with no up-front participant recruitment;

• analysing and making sense of large amounts of research data on the fly;

• making your design and development process transparent;

• recording and communicating research insights for future reference and remote team members.

The talk will illustrate how opening up our development process at a trade show provided visitors to the stand with an opportunity to experience Agile and Lean methods first-hand, and that marketing teams can learn a lot from Agile development teams.

Anyone directly involved in product design, development and marketing would get value from attending, including designers, product owners, developers, testers, project managers and marketers.

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