From User Story Mapping to component-driven development: techniques for building agile Drupal teams via a Discovery Sprint

If you’ve been around web development for a few years, you’ve probably experienced the pitfalls of “waterfall” discovery sprints, in which a perfected vision of a website is designed and documented in a set of static mockups and functional documentation, then thrown over to a development team for execution—only to have business needs evolve, requirements change, and a quagmire of half-baked features, forever banished to the realm of technical debt, never to be enjoyed by end users. 

But what then, is Discovery, in an Agile context?  In the context of Agile, Lean and continuous learning, what do you need to discover before you start slapping together content types and modules? 

Here’s the good news: you don’t need  to know everything.  Nor can you!  Until you get your product into the hands of end users, you can’t possibly know how it will be used.  But a good discovery sprint will set your team up for continuous learning and ongoing success. 

In this session we’ll cover some specific techniques for planning and executing an agile Discovery sprint for a Drupal project, and how to organize agile teams that are aligned with a web product’s business goals and end user needs.

We’ll begin with the basics of Discovery,: user research and user personas, content strategy and content audits, analytics, and discuss how those basics specifically relate to Drupal projects.

With that important context in place, we’ll turn to User Story Mapping, a technique for building a shared understanding and language among business stakeholders, developers, designers, all framed from the perspective of the end user.  We’ll show how User Story Mapping can lead to an agile product backlog that helps keep all members of a team focused on the big picture, while offering means to slice work into deliverable chunks for design and development.

We’ll demo various tools for modeling your Design/Development/Content workflow so that each of these pillars of your website evolves as a unified structure within Drupal.  This includes a component-based approach to design and development with a living style guide that complements your project’s information architecture and content strategy.  We’ll discuss some of the ways these tools are being built into Drupal 8.

Finally, we’ll look at how to make the transition into active development sprints, how to avoid the dreaded “flat backlog” that can plague agile teams.   

The audience will come away from this session with specific skills for planning and participating in Discovery sprints for Drupal websites.

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Community and Being Human