Are you really doing Agile? If you are not doing iteration on your work, then are you getting the benefits of doing Agile?
The idea behind Agile was to be more flexible to users and market changes. Waterfall takes years to develop a piece of software and by the time you hit the market, you are no longer relevant. With Agile, you can build a MVP and iterate on your product as you try and find the right market fit. If you are only adding new features during sprints, without iteration, then you have just broken Waterfall down into smaller pieces. This is what I like to call “Mini-Waterfall”.
In User Experience (UX) we establish users’ needs through research and looking at product usage (where do users struggle with the use of the product – context of use), through the process of user testing. We establish user needs, help the product owner clarify his MVP and expose user problems, so that the product owner, in the end, can create a better product.
One problem with these tools, is that they are reactive. We need to gather data and it is “new” for every product and market. What if we had data that could be used proactively to shape the design, before you get to testing? The first designs tend to copy existing popular products, but we don’t have context of their design decisions and their products aren’t necessarily better.
Every company does their UX a bit differently. It all depends on resources available, are you a start-up or large company and the influence of your existing business-developer processes.
I worked for an ecommerce company and work were usually handed down from the top, in the form of “We need to redesign application X” or “We want a new application X”. My first response is always: “But why?”. Why do you need to redesign? Why do you want to build a new product? What is wrong with the current product?