UX Design in agile Refactoring Projects

How to organize UX design for complex digital transformation projects in agile framework.

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Many established applications are based on conservative technology, depend on strong infrastructure, and are difficult to navigate. In order to meet modern requirements, there is often no other option than to fundamentally rethink the application and accordingly initiate a re-factoring project. In this context, re-factoring refers to the process of restructuring code that is required to improve the design and structure of software.

User Experience (UX) designers always put the user at the center. However, for complex agile re-factoring projects, a good strategy is needed to work together with customers, business teams and development teams to add value by embedding agile processes with Design Thinking.


What should be considered when organizing UX design in complex agile re-factoring projects?

Collaboration with the IT department is fundamental to initially determine the framework to be used. A particular framework or tool can affect the user experience. For this reason, it is important to be made aware of any limitations or issues during implementation in order to fit individual user needs and create the best possible product.

Together with the product owner (PO), a list of key requirements and objectives should be created in order to envision the target product and evaluate it together with all team members.


A large proportion of the cases is an old, incorrectly designed tool that needs to be rebuilt with a variety of new features. Mapping the old processes and flows, is fundamental to stay on track. It’s also essential to have this referral to keep up and report what is done and what is missed, as well as a proof of UX improvements.

In those cases, mapping is mandatory to have a crystal clear overview of the old version, the version in progress and the future version.

A to-be map at a high level, not too detailed at the beginning, should be built by involving all stakeholders. The work to be done is to categorize processes and functions, and as mentioned, to map the application. The exchange between the business units and the IT department is important here, as is a constant revision of processes and functions in order to achieve a goal-oriented shared vision. Use a 2x2 matrix to define the intervention scope, using relevance for the user and IT effort as drivers.

Define what 80% of the user workload consists of based on user and PO interviews, and focus on the most used or important flows. Prioritize these application sections and proceed from most important to the least.

Epics (namely a large user story or a collection of user stories) and UX flows are strictly related. To better set up the project, you can link an epic to the main wireframe flow, to easily give context to all stakeholders.

For complex projects, the duration is usually between six months and five years. Mostly, many people are involved and when new employees join the project, they can be quickly onboarded following epics and wireframes.

This relation “epic to flow” is also crucial for executives, as they often lack time to go deeper into the details about the current progress in the project. They need to grasp the context and minimum flow to get an overview of the topic in two minutes.

The entire team benefits from this union of the epics and the wireframe flow. For instance, the test manager can also plan and execute tests in a very organized way based on this approach.

User stories are part of the epic. In other words, an epic consists of multiple user stories. So, every story is a specific sub-flow or a single screen inside the epic.

A key strategy is not only to design and add screens or small videos in JIRA as a collaboration tool, but also to create in parallel a complete prototype, with tags that show the impacted user stories code on each screen. In this way, everything is linked, and it´s rare to get lost.

To summarize, the better you understand all the components of the entire solution in a systemic way, the more efficiently you can drive re-factoring in the agile context.


Riverland Reply has taken part in diverse digital transformation projects and recommends to take care of DesignOps as well as DevOps. Cross-functional and agile work should necessarily match processes according to business objectives. In addition, optimizing orchestration, people, processes and trades amplifies the value of design and ensures to be result-oriented. It is not possible to achieve it without considering the central role of design in the project setup phase. For this reason, the tips above should be considered to intelligently decompose the project and to continuously deliver value to the end user with each release.
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    Riverland Reply

    Riverland Reply is specialized in consulting end-to-end customer-oriented solutions and strategies. In addition, Riverland Reply supports its customers in strategic IT decisions, implementation of defined solutions and production execution. The company combines in-depth knowledge of digital Customer Experience with the full potential of cloud native technologies. This expertise allows Riverland Reply to remove the barriers between a product-based technology and a full custom implementation. Knowing that Customer Experience in the digital era must be highly flexible to be adapted to different industries, Riverland Reply advises clients in automotive, transportation, logistics and finance industry. The strong partnership and close collaboration with Oracle made Riverland Reply the experts of Oracle’s Customer Experience products.