Journal of Software Engineering and Applications, 2012, 5, 743-751 Published Online October 2012 ( 743
User Experience Design and Agile Development: From
Theory to Practice
Tiago Silva da Silva1*, Milene Selbach Silveira2, Frank Maurer3, Theodore Hellmann3
1ICMC, Universidade de São Paulo, Campus de São Carlos, São Carlos, Brazil; 2FACIN, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio
Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil; 3CPSC, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
Email: *
Received June 30th, 2012; revised July 31st, 2012; accepted August 11th, 2012
We used existing studies on the integration of user experience design and agile methods as a basis to develop a frame-
work for integrating UX and Agile. We performed a field study in an ongoing project of a medium-sized company in
order to check if the prop osed framework fits in the real world, and how some aspects of the integration of UX and Ag-
ile work in a real project. This led us to some conclu sions situating contribu tions from pr actice to theo ry and back again.
The framework is briefly described in this paper and consists of a set of practices, artifacts, and techniques derived from
the literature. By combinin g theory and practice we were able to conf irm some thoughts and id entify some gaps—both
in the company process and in our proposed framework—and drive our attention to new issues that need to be ad-
dressed. We believe that the most important issues in our case study are: UX designers cannot collaborate closely with
developers becau se UX d esign ers are work ing on multiple p rojects an d that UX designers canno t work up front because
they are too busy with too many projects at the same time.
Keywords: Agile; User Experience; Integration; Framework; Field Study
1. Introduction
Agile development has become a mainstream regarding
software development processes. At the same time, an
increasing understanding of the importance of good UX
came along and the need to integrate these two areas
emerged. Agile methods as well as User Experience (UX)
design methods aim to build quality software, but desp ite
this common concern, each approaches development f rom
a different perspective [1]. According to the authors, while
Agile methods mainly describe activities addr essing code
creation or project management, UX design methods des-
cribe activities for designing the product’s interactions
and/or interface with a user.
These two methodologies traditionally use different ap-
proaches for resource allocation in a project [2]. Agile
methods strive to deliver small sets of software features
to customers as quickly as possible in short iterations
while, on the other hand, User-Centered Design (UCD)
advocated spending considerable effort on research and
analysis before development begins.
Up until a few years ago, little attention had been giv-
en to the integration of UX and Agile. This could be due
to historical issues su ch as no t unders tanding th e n eed for
a good user experience and by not knowing Agile meth-
ods in detail, or just by thinking that they could no t work
together due to their differences in focus. However, now-
adays there are a reasonable number of studies address-
ing this integration, as can be seen in [3].
Thus, our aim in this paper is to create a better under-
standing of Agile and UX design in theory and practice.
In this paper, we present similarities and differences be-
tween the findings from a previous theoretical study [3]
and a framework proposed for integrating UX and Agile
development that emerged from that theoretical study.
We also describe in detail the work involved in integrat-
ing UX design and Agile development in a in a world
leading technology company that develops and manu-
factures collaboration products. 1As the result, we will be
able to see the theory in practice and the contributions
from the practice to the theory.
This paper is structured as follows: Section 2 presents
some related work regarding this topic; Section 3 briefly
presents the proposed framework; Section 4 describes the
case study and its findings; Section 5 presents a discus-
sion and Section 6 presents some conclusions and up-
coming steps for this research.
1This is the description provided by the company’s research facilitator.
The name of the company and the projects were omitted due to confi-
dentiality constraints.
*Corresponding autho
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JSEA
User Experience Design and Agile Development: From Theory to Practice
2. UX and Agile Integration
In the following section, we will summarize the existing
literature regarding UX and Agile integration. Most of the
work is based on case studies and leads to similar conclu-
sions—which w e use as the ba sis of the pr oposed fram ework.
Chamberlain et al. [4] present a framework for use by
teams trying to integrate UCD practices with Agile de-
velopment. They present so me similarities between UCD
and Agile based on the literature and an observational
study too. Based on their results, they suggest five prin-
ciples for integrating User-Centered Design and agile de-
velopment, such as: 1) The user should be involved in the
development process; 2) Designers and developers must
be willing to communicate and work together extremely
closely; 3) Designers must be willing to feed the devel-
oper with prototypes and user feedback; 4) UCD practi-
tioners must be given ample time in order to discover the
basic users’ needs before any code; 5) Agile/UCD inte-
gration must exist within a cohesive project management
Ferreira et al. [5] state that the integration of UI design
and agile development is not well understood and report
a qualitative grounded theory study of Agile projects in-
volving significant UI design. Some results of their study
were that using iterative development—an Agile practice—
facilitates usability testing, allows software developers to
incorporate results of those tests into subsequent itera-
tions, and can significantly improve the quality of the re-
lationship between UI designers and software developers.
Mcinerney and Maurer [6] performed a set of intervi-
ews with UCD designers involved with Agile projects
and concluded that all of the UCD practitioners’ reports
were positive. These authors also report that the current
literature indicates that improving our understanding of
how to coordinate and integrate the work of UX design-
ers and Agile developers helps bridge the gap between
the Software Engineering and HCI.
Still, according to Ferreira et al. [1], the problem of
having both Agile developers and UX designers contrib-
uting their skills to a software development project has
typically been characterized as a problem of merging one
method with another. For example, Patton [7] explains
how Usage-Centered Design can be combined with ex-
treme Programming; Obendorf and Finck [8] explain how
Scenario-Based Usability Engineering was combined w ith
extreme Programming; and Miller [9] explains how User -
Centered Design techniques were integrated with an Ag-
ile process that was a combination of Adaptive Software
Development and extreme Programming.
Sy [10] describes the adaptations at her company, whic h
includes adjusting timing and granularity of usability
investigations and the way that usability findings were
reported. She also concluded that the new Agile UCD
methods produce better-designed products than versions
designed using a waterfall approach. Also, Singh [11] pro-
poses a process, U-Scrum, which adapts Scrum to pro-
mote usability. Beyer [12] presents a proc ess proposal in
which he describes the need for UX designers to under-
stand Agile principles and presents best practices for this
Another indication of the importance of the integration
of these two techniques is the number of studies addressing
UX and Agile found in the literature over the last ten
years. More details and deeper analysis on the existing
literature can be found at [3].
3. Proposed Framework
Jokela and Abrahamsson [13] and Sohaib and Khan [14]
commented that Interaction Design and Agile methods fit
well, and that the challenge is not to make Agile less
agile but in adaptin g the methods of UCD so they can be
“light” and efficient at the same time.
Hussain et al. [15] pointed out some beneficial simi-
larities between UCD and Agile, e.g., having the client
on-site, continued testing and iterative development. Mo-
reover, as noted in [16], the two methods have much to
offer when they share iterations because the iterations
used in Agile facilitate usability testing and allow deve-
lopers to incorporate results of these tests in subsequent
iterations. However, [17] commented that improving the
usability of a product does not come without costs or
risks even when the methods are rationaliz ed.
In order to integrate Agile and UX Design and at the
same time minimize these costs and risks, the proposed
framework suggests the use of usab ility artifacts and pra-
ctices in a condensed form. This is indicated by Agile
principles and we expect that it will improv e the u sab ility
of products while at the same time minimally impacting
the activities of normal Agile development.
The structure of our framework is similar to the proc-
esses described by [5,10,18]. The difference is that we
propose a combination of the most common practices,
artifacts and processes identified in the systematic review
[3] previously cited, i.e. our framework is more concrete
in its recommendation s th an previous work.
The flexibility and adaptability offered by Agile me-
thods are widely discussed, so the intent of our frame-
work is not to stiffen these methods, but, as suggested by
[14], to adapt usability practices to an Agile setting in
order to improve the usability of products developed us-
ing these methods.
The framework we propose is presented at a high level
in Figure 1 and it is organized according to the activities
of the Interaction Design lifecycle mode l [19], as follows:
User Research, (Re)Design, and Evaluation.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JSEA
User Experience Design and Agile Development: From Theory to Practice
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JSEA
Figure 1. High-level representation of the proposed framework.
3.1. User Research methods, the Interaction Designers should focus on a
small number of tasks at a time instead of on trying to
design the entire product at the beginning of the project.
One of the major concepts in Agile is LDUF (Little De-
sign up Front2); that is, it is recommended to perform
only a little (but not all) d esign work before implementa-
tion begins. We propose the adoption of Sprint 0: an it-
eration that takes place before the start of implementation
or even before the official kick off of the project. It is
important to include Interaction Designers in Sprint 0 due
to their skills in gathering and analyzing data from UX
because, according to [20], developers tend to listen to
what customers want instead of looking at what they do.
Contextual investigatio n, task analysis, user interv iews,
prototyping, and prototype validation could be performed
during each iteration. To facilitate the process, the Inter-
action Design team should work on user research one
sprint ahead of the development team. This allows the
results of the user research to be fed into the iteration
plan in form of user stories on time for the development
team to start implementing the design.
Sprint 0 encompasses activities such as context re-
search (Contextual Inquiry [21]), Observations, Task
Analysis, and Interviews. Such activities shou ld generate
paper prototypes and/or Design Cards3 that will help to
define the User Stories. To facilitate LDUF, activities
related to requirements gathering and analysis must be
performed throughout the development process in order
to avoid concentrating these tasks towards the beginning
of the project. The result of this should be just-in-time
design. In other words, as with the developers using Agile
Once User Stories have been defined, the Interaction
Design team should design the user interface and validate
these stories, adding usability aspects as acceptance cri-
teria for each User Story. The Interaction Design team
should deliver the Story Cards to the development team.
These activities sho uld b e d one b efo re the plan ning g ame,
so they can be discussed during that activity.
3Upcoming designs are represented on the planning boards as design
cards, which are blue to differentiate them from feature cards, and have
no implementation time estimates [10]. This is a way of communicating
to plan.
2In this specific context, we mean User Research by Design.
User Experience Design and Agile Development: From Theory to Practice
3.2. (Re)Design
Prototypes, Feature Cards4, Design Cards, and Issue C ar d s5
could be used to report both designs and evaluation re-
sults to guide the redesign of the interface. It is important
to mention that we do not want to suggest specific types
of prototypes because each team or product has its par-
ticularities regarding prototypes and diagrams.
A light way of reporting such issues is very important
in an Agile context. Using simple artifacts helps in com-
munication between all stakeholders and adds value to
the development process. We recommend the use of a
User Experience Board for maintaining a shared vision
where possible.
We can use prototypes and/or Design Cards for com-
munication between UX Designers and developers. When
delivering designs to the development team, it may also
help to make use of Feature Cards and prototypes—both
low and high fidelity—this will depend on the teams’ cha-
Problems and/or modifications can be reported in daily
meetings using Oral Storytelling6 and Issue Cards. This
can help the development team incorporate design im-
provements into their work.
3.3. Evaluation
We suggest evaluating the entire implementation one
sprint after development. This is because evaluating the
implementation of the current sprint would require the
development team to deliver before the end of the sprint.
This would reduce staff time for development and leave
them idle while the Interaction Design team conducts
Usability evaluations should be performed regularly.
Performing user testing during the sprints is hard given
the time required to prepare, schedule, conduct, and ana-
lyze this type of test. So, while it may not be possible to
do these evaluations for each sprint, we recommend that
they be done, at the least, before the delivery of the re-
lease. It is worthwhile to mention that these tests should
be conducted with real users. An alternative is the in-
clusion of activities related to data capture and usability
when performing acceptanc e tests.
The UX Team should work closely with the develop-
ment team to support them in terms of designing and
conducting insp ection evaluations on the implementation
of the current sprint and provide feedback. This needs to
be done without blocking the development team. How-
ever, the UX Team must analyze the problems they iden-
tify and determine if there is time to fix these issues in
the same sprint or if they should be documented and car-
ried over into the next sprint.
4. Case Description
We performed a field study in an ongoing project of a
medium-sized company in order to evaluate if the pro-
posed framework fits in a real project and how some as-
pects of the integration of UX and Agile work in the real
We begin by describing our field study in terms of the
people, the project, the research site, how we collected
the data and performed the data analysis. We then relate
our findings to the aspects highlighted by our proposed
A study of UX designers and their in teractions with an
Agile team working on the same project was carried out
over three iterations—45 days. In the following section,
we describe the team, their project and their organization
setting then we discuss how we collected and analyzed
the data.
4.1. The People
Our study involved seven members of an Agile team and
one UX designer. The developers were part of the De-
velopment Team and the designer was part of the UX
Team. The developers had been developi ng soft ware using
Scrum for approximately two years. Although they are
called developers, individuals in the team have their own
role according to their background and skills. The roles
were Project Manager/Scrum Master, Product Owner, De-
veloper, Technical Leader and Tester as can be seen at
Table 1.
Information architects, graphic designers, and interac-
tion designers compose the UX team. Each project has
one UX designer, but a UX designer usually works on
more than one development team at a time. The same
goes for Project Managers. Interestingly, Project Manag-
ers are known as Scrum Masters in this organization.
Table 1. The roles and the number of individuals for the
Development Team.
Role Individuals
Project manager/Scrum master 1
Product owner 1
Technical leader 1
Developer 2
Tester 2
4Describes the acceptance criteria that determine when that feature is
complete, and also includ es a time estimate for completion [10].
5Physical cards used to communicate information from observations
and interviews with users. This is a way of communicating to persuade
6It is a technique that can take rational ideas and bring them more fully
into the world by giving them a human context to affect people. So one
of the best things about stories is that th ey inspire other stories [29].
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User Experience Design and Agile Development: From Theory to Practice 747
It is worthwhile to mention that despite we observed
one team and one UX Designer, as presented in Table 1,
we interviewed three UX Designers of the company.
4.2. The Project
Due to confidentiality constraints, we cannot provide
much information about the projects. As already men-
tioned, we observed two projects that we will refer to as
Project X and Project Y:
Project X: development of new features for an exist-
ing product of the company;
Project Y: development of an existing product of the
company for a mobile/tablet device.
The UX member’s role in Project X was to help soft-
ware engineers envision new features for the product. In
Project Y, the UX members’ roles were to prototype and
design the User Interface and the User Interaction flow
for the product.
4.3. The Research Site
The developers and designers were part of a technology
company that develops and manufactures collaboration
products, as already mentioned.
The team of developers was one of several Scrum
teams in the company working on software development.
The developers and designers were seated in an open-
plan office space located in the same b uildin g. Howev er,
they were not seated together. They were spread in the
building, although the UX team members were seated
close to each other. The researcher was seated with a UX
member that was observing these projects.
4.4. Data Collection
We used two first-degree data collection techniques: ob-
servations and interviews.
Regarding observations, due to the characteristics of
invoking the least amount of interference in the work
environment and the least expensive method to imple-
ment and, most importantly, because the company did
not permit video or audio recording of the meetings, we
choose to manually record our observations of the meet-
ings described below.
We shadowed a UX person during his activities for
three iterations—45 days—and observed meetings in
which he was involved, such as meetings of the UX
Team and meetings for the two different projects:
Project X: two requirements7 meetings, one retrosp-
ective meeting;
Project Y: one demo meeting, three planning meet-
ings, three retrospective meetings and two user testing
UX group meetings: four meetings.
For our interviews, we interviewed three members of
the UX group that work in different projects and one
project manager.
The Project Manager was interviewed in order to bet-
ter understand which Agile methods the company uses
and how this integration of UX and Agile is or is not
successful from his point of view. The UX people were
interviewed in order to understand UX work on the dif-
ferent projects of the company.
4.5. Data Analysis
We performed Open and Focused Coding [22] to analyze
the data. Initial memos were extracted by the researcher
from the field notes produced during the observations
and from the interviews performed with members of the
After generating memos, Open Coding was performed
in order to generate new insights and themes. Focused
Coding was also performed and this coding consisted of
linking the memos gen erated to the key asp ects identified
in the systematic review [3]. Also, some new aspects
emerged from the analysis of the observations and inter-
views. Later, some integrative memos were also written
in order to relate the field notes, the key aspects, and
these new codes.
We classified our findings according to the key aspects
used for Focu sed Coding. W e also presented our findings
to the company in order to validate these insig hts and the
teams’ members confir med them.
In the following sectio n, we relate our find ings in te rms
of the activities we observed and place these activities in
the proposed framework context, establishing a relation-
ship between theory and practice.
4.6. Findings
Here we take a deeper look at the work of the UX de-
signers and Agile developers and how they coordinated
their work on a day-to-day basis. The work of interest
during our observations and in terviews was all th e activi-
ties, tools, and artifacts used from requirements elicita-
tion to the product evaluation. In this section, we link
between the memos extracted from field notes and inter-
views and the codes—key aspects—that emerged in the
Systematic Review.
Little Design Up Front
—There is no design up fr ont.
—There is no collaboration between the UX team
and the Marketing Team.
We noticed that the company does not perform any
design up front. We also noticed that there is no collabo-
ration between the UX Team and the Marketing Team,
7The company used to perform requirements meetings previously of the
roject’s kickoff in order to g ain a project’s big picture.
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User Experience Design and Agile Development: From Theory to Practice
based on comments like: “Some User Research is per-
formed by the Marketing Team. In general, the Market-
ing Team knows what they say they need, not what they
really need. Its a not a target effort to gather what the
user needIts a sell visit.”—UX18. Additionally, UX3
remarked that “We absolutely are not close to the Mar-
keting Team.” The accomplishment of LDUF by the UX
Team is compromised because the Marketing Team does
not have the background to perform real user studies.
Consequently, the results from their studies are not that
good for design. Only some information comes from the
Marketing to the UX team. Since there is almost no User
Research before the project is launched, the UX Team
has to try to think from the user’s point of view. But we
observed that in some projects there is an effort from the
UX Team to participate of the Requirements Meetings to
better understand the needs of the Customer; however, it
is worthwhile to remember that the Customer is not al-
ways the User. Thus, we notice that the UX Team under-
stands the concept of LDUF (“We dont need to design
everything up front.”—UX3) although they do not make
use of it.
—UX Team makes reall y good use of prototypes.
—The use of a certain type of prototype depends on
the UX Designer’s background.
We noticed that the UX Team makes really good use
of prototypes. Depending on the situation they use, e.g.
Paper prototypes, high fidelity prototypes, the produ ct
sometimes prototyping tools, sometimes high-fi prototyp-
es, sometimes low-fi.”—UX1. Some members of the UX
Team cannot design/draw interfaces and they complain
about that, as follows: “We UX people all can do some
stuff, for example, User Testing and finding usability iss-
uesbut not everyone can be designers, for example
—UX1. “Its tricky for UX people to code.”—UX2. The
term “code” here is not about being a developer, but is
about creating a UI using HTML, for instance. There is
an issue because some of team members are UX Design-
ers and not Graphic Designers. 9We also noticed that
since the members of the UX Team have different back-
grounds, some of them can code some functional—high-
fidelity—prototypes and some of them cannot.
User Testing
—User Tests with real users are rarely performed
even when the project is in its final stages.
—User Tests used to be performed with internal us-
This led to problems after the product release. When
they perform some User Testing with real users, the pro-
bability of a product being released with fewer problems
increases. User Testing used to be performed with inter-
nal users based on the justification that there are always
new and old employees with different profiles and back-
grounds: “[For] internal studies… [we use] new people
and old people from inside the Company...”—UX2.
User Stories
—There are not User Stories specific to UX.
—There is no standard on reporting UX issues.
Sometimes when UX User Stories are written, these
stories are then brok en into smaller stories with technical
development criteria. Hence, in general, User Stories do
not have usability issues as acceptance criteria as sug-
gested by the literature, e.g. [11]. We also notice that
sometimes User Stories are used to report usability issues
identified during usability tests: “Sometimes we add new
user stories based on the resu lts of the User Testing. But
it depends on the problem. We can also put them as a
bug.”—UX2. The different ways that teams and UX mem-
bers use User Stories lead to another observation: a lack
of standard on how to report UX issues .
Usability Inspection
—UX Team performs peer reviews on the UI de-
—Peer reviews work well for them.
We observed that the UX Team performs some insp-
ection evaluations, e.g. a member of the UX Team de-
signs a prototype and then another member perform so me
evaluations (“We perform some experts evaluations, peer
review.”—UX1). Even though they do not follow a spe-
cific method of inspection evalu ation, e.g. Heuristic Eva-
luation [23], it seems to work very well for them. This
peer review is a practice like pair programming, and it
seems to provide the necessary feedback to the teams.
One Sprint Ahead
—UX Team does not work one sprint ahead.
—UX Designers work on more than one project at
the same time.
It is clear that the UX Team does not work one sprint
ahead from the development team as suggested by the
literature. Although the UX Team knows the benefits of
designing one sprint ahead, it is not possible for now
because they did not find the time yet (“We should work
at least one sprint ahead the development team.”—UX3).
One of the problems is that the UX Team members do
not have time to design one sprint ahead of the develop-
ment team, probably because they are busy with other
projects. It is consistent with the fact that there is not
9Interaction Designer defines the beha vior of artifacts, environmen ts, an d
systems or products whereas Graphic Designer is a professional within
the graphic design and graphic arts industry who assembles together
images, typography or motion graphics to create a piece of design.
8UX# means UX Team member interviewed and PM means Project
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JSEA
User Experience Design and Agile Development: From Theory to Practice 749
only One Team as Agile principles suggest. We observe
that the UX is almost outsourced. Even if there is a UX
Team within the company, UX members are not full mem-
bers of the development team, they are always working
on many projects at the same time: “We used to work on
multiple projects, but its really easier to work on only
one product. It is so much easier to get involved, you
know whats going on. Your attention is right di-
rected.”—UX2. UX people cannot have the same level
of inclusion in all the projects they are involved con-
comitantly (“Im working on 7 to 10 projects at the same
time. With different levels of inclusion.”—UX3). We
suggest that UX members should be dedicated to one
team or a very small number of teams in order to avoid
issues. This might be related to the issues with LDUF
discussed above in that if no research or design is carried
out up front, the UX Team member does not know what
do in the current sprint based on the upcoming sprints.
Close Collaboration
—There is no close connection/collaboration between
UX and Marketing.
—UX Designers cannot be deeper involved in a
project because they are working on too many pro-
We observed that there is no collaboration between the
UX and the Marketing Team, but there is a good com-
munication between the UX Team and the Development
Team. However, as already mentioned, sometimes UX
members block the Development Team because they are
working on other projects. Sometimes even the daily
meetings block the UX member, because since they are
working in many projects, they have a lot of meetings to
attend. For example: “UX people should be Pigs10.”—PM.
UX people should be more committed to the projects.
But it is not that they do not want to, they just cannot
because they have too many commitments. (“Sometimes,
the member of the team doesnt know who to answer to,
to the Project Manager or to the Function Man-
ager.”—PM.) This last quote seems to be a problem due
to a confusion of roles inside the company, which com-
pounds an already difficult situation, described below.
We could observe that the company uses an adapted
Scrum. In Scrum by the book, there are: Product Owner,
Scrum Master and Team. In the company observed there
are: Project Manager, Product Manager, Function Man-
ager and Team. Each team member has a Function Man-
ager based on her skills as well as a Project Manager
based on the pr oject(s) she is assigned to. A project team
consists of team members with different skills reporting
to their Function Manager. The Product Manager acts
more like the Product Owner. The Project Manager acts
more like the Scrum Master in terms of being a facilitator,
because he is not a developer and he also manages more
than one project. The Function Manager is in charge of
the teams’ members’ time. For example, the UX Team
has a Function Manager who defines which project has to
be prioritized. That is why we said that UX is almost
outsourced: the UX member is not always available to
the rest of the team. It is extremely important to note that
all of the observations and findings are related to new
projects or new products. We notice that for products that
are being developed for a long time, the UX members
that work for a long time in the same project already
have some standards that they follow. But these stan-
dards are too specific to be used in another product or by
another member of the UX Team.
Big Picture
—UX Designers have no problem to maintain the
project Big Picture.
We did not observe problems about the maintenance
of the Big Picture of the company’s projects. However,
we heard some complaints from the UX Team members
about how to communicate their ideas or design deci-
sions to higher levels of management in the company.
They said that sometimes Directors, for instance, do not
understand their concepts and prototypes are not enough.
We performed a thematic analysis of the data from the
observations and interviews in order to identify patterns
or themes. Then we relate the findings to the th ree activi-
ties that compose interaction d esign [19]: User Research,
Design, and Evaluation.
5. Discussion
Our thematic analysis led us to some conclusions situat-
ing contributions from practice to theory and from theory
to practice. They are briefly presented as follows.
5.1. User Research
Regarding User Research, we notice that the UX Team
does not perform any—at least in the projects observed.
The Marketing Team performs some studies, e.g., some
observations in context, however this is not always the
case. Based on the literature, we recommend the use of
techniques such as Contextual Inquiry in order to benefit
from User Research because it is important that there is
some design up front, but not all.
5.2. (Re)Design
While the UX team made good use of prototypes, we
notice that these artifacts were not used for the commu-
nication between the UX Team and the Development
team. Based on the lit erature, low-fi delit y prototy pes could
10This is a fable told by Scrum practitioners about a pig and a chicken
who considered starting a restaurant. “We could serve ham and eggs,”
said the chicken. “I don’t think that would work,” said the pig. “I’d be
committed, but you’d only be involved.”
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JSEA
User Experience Design and Agile Development: From Theory to Practice
be used to facilitate communication between UX and
development teams and presentations of these prototypes
and concepts could be used to facilitate the communica-
tion between UX teams and Management/Stakeholders in
the early stages. The use of these practices would not
require significant chang es to the compa ny’s proc ess and
could result in stron g benefit s .
5.3. Evaluation
The use of peer review evaluations and validations by
members of the Development Team and other UX Team
members was perceived by team members to be a quick
way to get feedback about their work. However, we ma-
intain some reservations about the effectiveness of this
practice—especially given that our investigation uncov-
ered that issues were likely to be found earlier in an ap-
plication if evaluations using real users were performed.
6. Conclusions
The theory on which we based this work—the results
from a Systematic Literature Review—led us to a frame-
work for integrating UX and Agile development. This
framework briefly described in this paper consists of a
set of practices, artifacts, and techniques derived from
the literature.
The practice on which we based this work—a field
study carried out in a company that tries to combine UX
and Agile—showed us some aspects that work and some
that do not work in this specific real-world environment.
By combining theory and practice we were able to
confirm some thoughts and identify some gaps—both in
the compan y process and in our proposed fr amewor k —a n d
drive our attention to new issues that need to be ad-
We believe that the most important issues in our case
study are: UX Designers cannot collaborate closely with
Developers because UX Designers are working on mul-
tiple projects and that UX Designers cannot work up
front because they are too busy with too many projects at
the same time.
According to our observations, this is translated to a
cycle. Once a UX Designer is working on more than one
project at the same time, he is busy all the time and he
cannot perform research or a little design up front. With-
out any research or design up front, he does not know
what to design afterwards. Consequently, the UX De-
signer is always working at the same iteration of the De-
velopment Team, or even worse, he is working one sprint
behind them. The issue is that the UX people do not have
the information needed to make informed decisions about
UX design at a point when they can easily impact the
development effort.
This study carried out inside this company is part of a
larger Action Research initiative that we are performing
within this company. So, we are constantly an alyzing the
data and refining the framework.
As we could notice in the literature, Mcinerney and
Maurer [24] reported results of interviews with UX De-
signers, just mentioning the necessity of adding UX De-
sign into Agile development without a specific proposal.
Chamberlain et al. [25] presented general principles for
the integration of UX and Agile that should guide UX
Designers on how to take advantag e of the Agile process
structure. Hussain et al. [26] present some of the artifacts
most used by UX Designers working on Agile teams,
whereas Adikari et al. [27] introduce the concept of Lit-
tle Design Up Front. Sy [28] reports experiences on inte-
grating UX Design and Agile development, suggesting
adaptations of the UCD (User-Centered Design) in terms
of tasks granularity, reporting and timing.
As can be noticed, a lot of studies have been under-
taken, however each of them addresses different aspects
of the integration. Moreover, in general, the studies pro-
vide experience reports or propose an approach without
any kind of verification or validation. The framework
proposed aims at addressing different aspects of this in-
tegration, providing alternatives to the UX Designer in-
serted in the Agile context.
One of our next steps is to perform field studies in
other companies with ongoing projects, instead of new
ones. We are aiming at refining our framework and mak-
ing it suitable to different stages of projects and to dif-
ferent companies.
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