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Jolt Awards: The Best Books

, October 01, 2013 Five notable books every serious programmer should read.
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Jolt Award: Lean UX

By Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden

Agile development has been the rage for more than a decade now. And while it has focused largely on writing code, testing, and processes that have morphed into DevOps, it's never adequately explained how the constant user feedback that is crucial to its operation works. This dimension becomes particularly important in the new age of expanded awareness of user experience (UX) driven by mobile apps. Lean UX fills that gap with thoughtful advice on how exactly to prototype, design, and validate the user experience and, perhaps more importantly, how to integrate UX design with the work of the development team.

While stressing the nature of this new collaboration, Gothelf finds imaginative ways to fuse the UX design experience with mainstream agile principles. For example, one of his key recommendations is to pair designers and developers. This provides an instant feedback loop between the users' representative (the designer) and the programmer — a remarkably accelerated form of agile development.

When not focusing on the collaborative aspects, this book attempts to maximize the efficiency associated with lean practices by providing concrete suggestions with immediate application. These are as prosaic, but important, as developing a style guide with implemented elements in known repositories. Or advice on the best way to get working prototypes put together quickly. ("Use prototypes of varying fidelities to get a sense of what your product's experience will be and validate that with customers to ensure you're headed down the right path.")

In sum, this short book is an excellent guide to the paradigm of UX design and implementation, presented here in an agile context that enables developers to integrate this approach into their workflow quickly and effectively. It's a valuable book that points the way to the future, and thus is the reciepient of this year's Jolt Award.

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