Investigating Agile User-Centered Design in Practice: A Grounded Theory Perspective

  • Zahid Hussain
  • Wolfgang Slany
  • Andreas Holzinger
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5889)


This paper investigates how the integration of agile methods and User-Centered Design (UCD) is carried out in practice. For this study, we have applied grounded theory as a suitable qualitative approach to determine what is happening in actual practice. The data was collected by semi-structured interviews with professionals who have already worked with an integrated agile UCD methodology. Further data was collected by observing these professionals in their working context, and by studying their documents, where possible. The emerging themes that the study found show that there is an increasing realization of the importance of usability in software development among agile team members. The requirements are emerging; and both low and high fidelity prototypes based usability tests are highly used in agile teams. There is an appreciation of each other’s work from both UCD professionals and developers and both sides can learn from each other.


Agile Methods Extreme Programming Scrum Usability User-Centered Design Grounded Theory Interviews 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Holzinger, A.: Usability Engineering for Software Developers. Communications of the ACM 48(1), 71–74 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hussain, Z., Lechner, M., Milchrahm, H., Shahzad, S., Slany, W., Umgeher, M., Wolkerstorfer, P.: Agile User-Centered Design Applied to a Mobile Multimedia Streaming Application. In: Holzinger, A. (ed.) USAB 2008. LNCS, vol. 5298, pp. 313–330. Springer, Heidelberg (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Glaser, B.G., Strauss, A.L.: The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Aldine (1967)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ferreira, J., Noble, J., Biddle, R.: Agile development iterations and UI design. In: Agile 2007, pp. 50–58. IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ferreira, J., Noble, J., Biddle, R.: Up-front interaction design in agile development. In: Concas, G., Damiani, E., Scotto, M., Succi, G. (eds.) XP 2007. LNCS, vol. 4536, pp. 9–16. Springer, Heidelberg (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fox, D., Sillito, J., Maurer, F.: Agile methods and User-Centered design: How these two methodologies are being successfully integrated in industry. In: AGILE 2008, pp. 63–72 (2008)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Patton, J.: Hitting the target: adding interaction design to agile software development. In: OOPSLA 2002 Practitioners Reports, Seattle, Washington. ACM, New York (2002)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Patton, J.: Twelve emerging best practices for adding UX work to agile development (June 2008),
  9. 9.
    Chamberlain, S., Sharp, H., Maiden, N.: Towards a framework for integrating agile development and user-centred design. In: Abrahamsson, P., Marchesi, M., Succi, G. (eds.) XP 2006. LNCS, vol. 4044, pp. 143–153. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    McInerney, P., Maurer, F.: UCD in agile projects: dream team or odd couple? Interactions 12(6), 19–23 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Holzinger, A., Errath, M., Searle, G., Thurnher, B., Slany, W.: From extreme programming and usability engineering to extreme usability in software engineering education (XP+UE→XU). In: COMPSAC 2005: Proceedings of the 29th Annual International Computer Software and Applications Conference (COMPSAC 2005), Washington, DC, USA, vol. 2, pp. 169–172. IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Miller, L.: Case study of customer input for a successful product. In: Agile Conference, pp. 225–234 (2005)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Meszaros, G., Aston, J.: Adding usability testing to an agile project. In: Agile Conference 2006 (2006)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Memmel, T., Reiterer, H., Holzinger, A.: Agile methods and visual specification in software development: A chance to ensure universal access. In: Stephanidis, C. (ed.) HCI 2007. LNCS, vol. 4554, pp. 453–462. Springer, Heidelberg (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sy, D.: Adapting usability investigations for agile user-centered design. Journal of Usability Studies 2(3), 112–132 (2007)MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Brown, J., Lindgaard, G., Biddle, R.: Stories, sketches, and lists: Developers and interaction designers interacting through artefacts. In: AGILE 2008. Conference, pp. 39–50 (2008)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ungar, J.: The design studio: Interface design for agile teams. In: AGILE 2008. Conference, pp. 519–524 (2008)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wolkerstorfer, P., Tscheligi, M., Sefelin, R., Milchrahm, H., Hussain, Z., Lechner, M., Shahzad, S.: Probing an agile usability process. In: CHI 2008: human factors in computing systems, pp. 2151–2158. ACM, New York (2008)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hussain, Z., Milchrahm, H., Shahzad, S., Slany, W., Tscheligi, M., Wolkerstorfer, P.: Integration of extreme programming and user-centered design: Lessons learned. In: Abrahamsson, P., Marchesi, M., Maurer, F. (eds.) XP 2009. LNBIP, vol. 31, pp. 174–179. Springer, Heidelberg (1975)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Federoff, M., Courage, C., Villamor, C.: Agile success: A user experience case study. In: UPA 2009 International Conference, Usability Professional’s Association (2009)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Miller, L., Sy, D.: Agile user experience SIG. In: Proceedings of the 27th international conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems CHI, Boston, MA, USA, pp. 2751–2754. ACM, New York (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Seaman, C.B.: Qualitative methods in empirical studies of software engineering. IEEE Trans. Softw. Eng. 25(4), 557–572 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Adolph, S., Hall, W., Kruchten, P.: A methodological leg to stand on: lessons learned using grounded theory to study software development. In: CASCON 2008: Proceedings of the 2008 conference of the center for advanced studies on collaborative research, pp. 166–178 (2008)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Coleman, G., O’Connor, R.: Using grounded theory to understand software process improvement: A study of irish software product companies. Information and Software Technology 49(6), 654–667 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hansen, B.H., Kautz, K.: Grounded theory applied - studying information systems development methodologies in practice. In: HICSS 2005: Proceedings of the Proceedings of the 38th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos (2005)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Whitworth, E., Biddle, R.: The social nature of agile teams. In: Proceedings of the AGILE 2007, pp. 26–36. IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Cao, L., Ramesh, B.: Agile requirements engineering practices: An empirical study. IEEE Software 25(1), 60–67 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Hoda, R., Noble, J., Marshall, S.: Negotiating contracts for agile projects: A practical perspective. In: Abrahamsson, P., Marchesi, M., Maurer, F. (eds.) XP 2009. LNBIP, vol. 31, pp. 186–191. Springer, Heidelberg (2009)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Strauss, A., Corbin, J.M.: Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory, 1st edn. Springer, Heidelberg (1990)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Strauss, A., Corbin, J.M.: Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory, 2nd edn. Springer, Heidelberg (1998)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Schreiber, R.S.: The ’how to’ of grounded theory: avoiding the pitfalls. In: Schreiber, R.S., Stern, P.N. (eds.) Using Grounded Theory in Nursing. Springer, Berlin (2001)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Holzinger, A.: Rapid prototyping for a virtual medical campus interface. IEEE Software 21(1), 92–99 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zahid Hussain
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Slany
    • 1
  • Andreas Holzinger
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Software TechnologyGraz University of TechnologyAustria
  2. 2.Institute of Information Systems and Computer MediaGraz University of TechnologyAustria

Personalised recommendations