Integrating User eXperience practices into software development processes: implications of the UX characteristics
Journal article, 2017
User eXperience (UX) is a key factor in the success of software systems. Many software companies face challenges in their work with UX. Existing research does not analyze UX practices and challenges in relation to other software quality characteristics or, in particular, in relation to usability. A better understanding of these challenges can help researchers and practitioners better address them in the future. In this empirical study, we have interviewed 17 practitioners with different backgrounds and occupations from eight software development companies. Their responses are coded, and analyzed with thematic analysis. We report eight themes of challenges that practitioners face in their work with UX. While some of these challenges partly overlap with those reported in existing literature about usability or other software quality characteristics, the participants of our study either view many of the challenges as unique to UX, or more severe in the case of UX. Although at a superficial level challenges of UX and other quality characteristics overlap, we differentiate these challenges at a deeper level through the five main characteristics of UX: subjective, holistic, dynamic, context-dependent and worthwhile. In particular, we identified that these characteristics have at least 20 implications (i.e. additional difficulties) for day-to-day work of practitioners. We found that 11 of these implications have been previously reported in literature. However, to the best of our knowledge, the remaining nine implications are unique to our study. These implications can explain why practitioners perceive the challenges to be more severe than for other quality characteristics. Most importantly, they can explain the industry’s lopsided focus on the pragmatic aspect of UX. Our findings can be useful for researchers in identifying new and industry-relevant research areas and for practitioners to learn from empirically investigated challenges in UX work, and base their improvement efforts on such knowledge. Identifying and investigating the overlaps underlines the importance of these challenges, and can also help finding research areas not only for enhancing UX work but also software quality in general. It also makes it easier for practitioners to spot, better understand as well as find mitigation strategies for UX, through learning from past experiences and developments in the area of software quality.