Is Task Board Customization Beneficial?

An Eye Tracking Study
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10611)


The task board is an essential artifact in many agile development approaches. It provides a good overview of the project status. Teams often customize their task boards according to the team members’ needs. They modify the structure of boards, define colored codings for different purposes, and introduce different card sizes. Although the customizations are intended to improve the task board’s usability and effectiveness, they may also complicate its comprehension and use. The increased effort impedes the work of both the team and team externals. Hence, task board customization is in conflict with the agile practice of fast and easy overview for everyone.

In an eye tracking study with 30 participants, we compared an original task board design with three customized ones to investigate which design shortened the required time to identify a particular story card. Our findings yield that only the customized task board design with modified structures reduces the required time. The original task board design is more beneficial than individual colored codings and changed card sizes.

According to our findings, agile teams should rethink their current task board design. They may be better served by focusing on the original task board design and by applying only carefully selected adjustments. In case of customization, a task board’s structure should be adjusted since this is the only beneficial kind of customization, that additionally complies more precisely with the concept of fast and easy project overview.


Agile development Task board Customization Eye tracking 



This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under ViViReq (2017–2019). We follow ethical guidelines of the Central Ethics Commission of our university. They regulate subject information and rights. Since recognizable persons should not be visible on distributed video, our data is archived internally for future reference.


  1. 1.
    Ahrens, M., Schneider, K., Kiesling, S.: How do we read specifications? Experiences from an eye tracking study. In: Daneva, M., Pastor, O. (eds.) REFSQ 2016. LNCS, vol. 9619, pp. 301–317. Springer, Cham (2016). doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-30282-9_21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ali, N., Sharafl, Z., Gueheneuc, Y.G., Antoniol, G.: An empirical study on requirements traceability using eye-tracking. In: 28th IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance. IEEE, Piscataway, NJ (2012)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Azizyan, G., Magarian, M.K., Kajko-Matsson, M.: Survey of agile tool usage and needs. In: Agile Conference. IEEE, Piscataway, NJ (2011)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Babik, L., Sheridan, R.: Breaking down walls, building bridges, and Takin’ out the trash,
  5. 5.
    Beck, K., Andres, C.: Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, 2nd edn. Addison-Wesley, Boston (2007)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Beck, K., Beedle, M., Van Bennekum, A., Cockburn, A., Cunningham, W., Fowler, M., Grenning, J., Highsmith, J., Hunt, A., Jeffries, R., et al.: Manifesto for Agile Software Development (2001)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Berczuk, S.: Back to basics: the role of agile principles in success with an distributed scrum team. In: Agile Conference. IEEE, Los Alamitos, Calif (2007)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cockburn, A.: Agile Software Development: The Cooperative Game, 2nd edn. Addison-Wesley, Upper Saddle River (2009)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cohen, J.: A power primer. Psychol. Bull. 112(1), 155–159 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cohn, M.: Agile Estimating and Planning, 12th edn. Prentice Hall PTR, Upper Saddle River (2012)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gross, A., Doerr, J.: What do software architects expect from requirements specifications? Results of initial explorative studies. In: 1st IEEE International Workshop on the Twin Peaks of Requirements and Architecture. IEEE, Piscataway, NJ (2012)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gross, A., Doerr, J.: What you need is what you get!: The vision of view-based requirements specifications. In: 20th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference. IEEE, Piscataway, NJ (2012)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hajratwala, N.: Task board evolution. In: Agile Conference. IEEE, Piscataway, NJ (2012)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Katsma, C., Amrit, C., Hillegersberg, J., Sikkel, K.: Can agile software tools bring the benefits of a task board to globally distributed teams? In: Oshri, I., Kotlarsky, J., Willcocks, L.P. (eds.) Global Sourcing 2013. LNBIP, vol. 163, pp. 163–179. Springer, Heidelberg (2013). doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-40951-6_10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Liskin, O., Schneider, K., Fagerholm, F., Münch, J.: Understanding the role of requirements artifacts in Kanban. In: 7th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering. Association for Computing Machinery Inc., New York, NY (2014)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Palmer, S.E.: Vision Science: Photons to Phenomenology. MIT Press, Cambridge (1999)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Perry, T.: Drifting toward invisibility: the transition to the electronic task board. In: Agile Conference. IEEE, Los Alamitos, Calif (2008)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Petre, M., Sharp, H., Freudenberg, S.: The mystery of the writing that isn’t on the wall: differences in public representations in traditional and agile software development. In: 5th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering. IEEE, Piscataway, NJ (2012)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pietri, W.: An XP team room.
  20. 20.
    Pikkarainen, M., Haikara, J., Salo, O., Abrahamsson, P., Still, J.: The impact of agile practices on communication in software development. Empir. Softw. Eng. 13(3), 303–337 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pries-Heje, L., Pries-Heje, J.: Why scrum works: a case study from an agile distributed project in Denmark and India. In: Agile Conference. IEEE, Piscataway, NJ (2011)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Rubart, J., Freykamp, F.: Supporting daily scrum meetings with change structure. In: Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia, NY. ACM, New York (2009)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Santos, M., Gralha, C., Goulão, M., Araújo, J., Moreira, A., Cambeiro, J.: What is the impact of bad layout in the understandability of social goal models? In: IEEE 24th International Requirements Engineering Conference (2016)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Schwaber, K., Beedle, M.: Agile Software Development with Scrum. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River (2002)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sharp, H., Robinson, H., Segal, J., Furniss, D.: The role of story cards and the wall in XP teams: a distributed cognition perspective. In: Agile Conference. IEEE, Los Alamitos, Calif (2006)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Sharp, H., Robinson, H.: Collaboration and co-ordination in mature eXtreme programming teams. Int. J. Hum Comput Stud. 66(7), 506–518 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Sharp, H., Robinson, H., Petre, M.: The role of physical artefacts in agile software development: two complementary perspectives. Interact. Comput. 21(1–2), 108–116 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Sutherland, J., Downey, S., Granvik, B.: Shock therapy: a bootstrap for hyper-productive scrum. In: Agile Conference. IEEE, Piscataway, NJ (2009)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Wake, B.: A gallery of team rooms and charts.
  30. 30.
    Wohlin, C., Runeson, P., Höst, M., Ohlsson, M.C., Regnell, B., Wesslén, A.: Experimentation in Software Engineering. Springer, Berlin (2012). doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-29044-2CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Software Engineering GroupLeibniz Universität HannoverHannoverGermany

Personalised recommendations