Agile software development and UX design: A case study of integration by mutual adjustment

John Stouby Persson, Anders Bruun*, Marta Kristín Lárusdóttir, Peter Axel Nielsen


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Context: Agility is an overarching ideal for empirically-driven software development processes that embrace change in order to improve quality, economy, and simplicity. While the pursuit of Agility has held prominence in software practice and research for over two decades, user experience (UX) designers struggle to integrate their work processes with agile software development. Objective: As empirical processes are constantly evolving, so is this integration struggle for UX designers. We, therefore, present an industrial case study of how a Danish software company integrates UX design and agile software development. Method: We conducted a case study involving (a) one iteration of individual interviews with 10 employees (four UX designers, three software developers, two project managers, and one solution architect) and (b) a follow-up iteration consisting of a workshop with 6 employees (three UX designers, two solution architects, and one project manager) two years later. We analyzed how the company's approach to integration with 'upfront design' and 'work in parallel' involve mutual adjustments as opposed to assimilation or separation of UX design and software development. Results: Our analysis shows how integration through mutual adjustments made distinct contributions to UX designers' and software developers' pursuit of Agility. They experienced notably different work processes that still dealt effectively with change and contributed to quality, economy, or simplicity. Nevertheless, as shown from a follow-up workshop two years after our first interviews, these processes were still susceptible to integration struggles over time. Conclusion: We conclude that integration based on mutual adjustment potentially makes Agility for UX designers and software developers different and mutually complementary. This integration contrasts with assimilation, which potentially makes their Agility mutually indistinguishably, and with separation, which makes their Agility different and mutually competing.

TidsskriftInformation and Software Technology
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2022

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