Integrating User eXperience practices into software development processes: implications of the UX characteristics


Kashfi, P., Nilsson, A., & Feldt, R. (2017). Integrating User eXperience practices into software development processes: Implications of the UX characteristics. PeerJ Computer Science, 3. doi:10.7717/peerj-cs.130

By Pariya Kashfi, Agneta Nilsson and Robert Feldt

July 3, 2020

  • This paper looks at the challenges of UX in software companies


  • UX definition = “UX is a user’s holistic perception of functionality and quality characteristics of a piece of software”
  • The efficiency of the software does not guarantee a positive experience for the user without designing the UX
  • Perception of UX is different in academic and industrial contexts
    • Academia: UX is how users find pleasure when using it
    • Industry: UX is how functional and usable it is
  • UX models:    
    • Hassenzahl, 2003
    • Wright and McCarthy, 2010
  • Author uses Hassenzahl’s model to define UX
    • UX is broken down into pragmatic (functional) and hedonic (emotional) attributes
  • Simply applying UX practices is not enough to create a positive UX experience
  • UX practices “need to be integrated into development processes and considered throughout projects”
  • Status of UX: “UX is often neglected in software projects and the UX state-of-practice is immature”
  • To understand the challenges of UX, one needs to identify “distinctions and interrelations between UX, usability and other software quality characteristics”
  • Note: The authors believe they can address UX challenges by examining how they relate to the processes of usability and other software quality characteristics. I will be looking at their challenges based on how UX designers share knowledge.
  • Research question:
    • “what challenges do practitioners face when integrating UX practices into software development processes and organizations?, and how do UX challenges relate to challenges of handling software quality characteristics, in particular usability?”
  • Note: My research directly responds to this:
    • “Our findings can be useful for researchers in identifying new and industry-relevant research areas, and for practitioners in learning from empirically investigated UX challenges, and basing their improvement efforts on such knowledge.”
  • Structure of paper:
    • Section 1: Introduction
    • Section 2: Background and related work
    • Section 3: Research methodology
    • Section 4: Results, challenge themes
    • Section 5: Findings and their relation to the current literature
    • Section 6: Conclusion and suggestions for future research

Background and related work

  • Hassenzahl’s model describes UX to be:
    • Subjective
    • Holistic
    • Dynamic
    • Context-dependent
    • Worthwhile
  • Challenges with UX in literature:
    • Note: None of these studies look at the human behaviour of UX practitioners with regards to how they communicate knowledge in practice
      • Studies on identifying challenges to UX is done on a work level, not at a human level
      • How are UX designers using the methods? Using the tools? How can we understand how they work based on how they share knowledge as they work?
    • UX practitioners that lack knowledge about software quality characteristics they ignore them during development
    • Characteristics are ignored if they seem less important
    • Conflict between quality requirements and functional requirements
    • Developers have lack of knowledge about UX and perceive usability as functionality
    • It is more difficult to test for quality characteristics than for functionality
    • Usability needs to be explicit in requirements in order for it to be tested
    • This  is relevant to my research:
      • There is “limited access to competencies and unclear responsibilities”
      • Look up:
      • Rosenbaum, Rohn and Humburg (2000)
        • “lack of usability professionals is one of the main obstacles organizations face concerning usability.”
      • Boivie, Gulliksen and Göransson (2006)
        • “even in cases when organizations have access to the right expertise, usability professionals are not sure about their responsibilities, and are uncertain as to how to contribute to the projects”
      • Chamberlain Sharp and Maiden (2006)
        • “power struggles rise as designers within a project defend their discipline in response to the decisions made by developers, and vice versa”
    • There a limited number of studies to look at the differences between usability and UX because practitioners don’t have access to tools and methods to objectively measure UX; it is subjective
    • There are questions on whether UX is even measurable; various prototypes are required to measure (test for) UX
    • “Tools and methods are selected based on cost rather than suitability for the project”
  • Studies that explicitly look at the differences between UX and usability focus on how they are each evaluated and measured. “They therefore do not sufficiently discuss other aspects of UX work, for instance requirements or communication and collaboration between UX and non-UX practitioners
  • Research gap: “there is a need for further empirical studies that investigate the role of UX characteristics and differentiate UX from other software quality characteristics including usability”
  • Note: How would I articulate my research gap? Ex. there is a need for further empirical studies that investigate factors influencing the knowledge sharing behaviours of UX designers as they use conventional tools and methods to conduct their work…


  • Explorative, qualitative study
  • Variety of companies with different characteristics chosen

Data Collection

  • Roles: technical, design, management
  • Semi structured interviews
  • “Questions covered different phases of developmental processes, and also the concept of UX and how it differed from usability in the interviewee’s eye”
    • I may also have my interviewees confused UX from usability
  • Total: 17 interviews in April, 2012
  • 13 face to face interviews
  • 4 video interviews
  • Each interview was 30-60 minutes

Data Analysis

  • Thematic analysis (Braun, Clarke, 2006)
  • Transcriptions were segmented and then the segments were coded
  • Excel used to code data
  • Mind-map of challenges and categories were created

Threats to Validity

  • Construct validity
  • Internal validity
  • External validity
  • Reliability


  • Eight themes emerged:
  • Theme 1: Lack of consensus on definition and construct of UX
  • Theme 2: Lack of consensus on the value of UX
  • Theme 3: Low industrial impact of UX models, tools and methods
  • Theme 4: Focus on objectively measurable aspects of software
  • Theme 5: Difficulties in engineering UX-related requirements
  • Theme 6: Focus on evaluating functionality and usability, not UX
  • Theme 7: Lack of consensus on UX-related competencies and responsibilities
  • Theme 8: Communication and collaboration gap between UX and non-UX practitioners
    • UX practices can be de-prioritized as something minor that happens at the end
    • Agile methods prioritize immediate and current problem solving
    • To prevent losing connection even after earlier establishment, UX practitioners rely on UX advocates
    • UX practitioners ask for Informal check-ins to be kept up to date with changes
    • UX practitioners are hesitant if they feel like they’re trying to take over the project
    • Usability didn’t disturb the process of development, but UX can
    • QUOTE: “Better UX work requires regular communication and collaboration among UX and non-UX practitioners which sometimes can be challenging since these two groups of practitioners often have different responsibilities, education, motivation, and constraints in their work.”
    • In order for UX designers to communicate and collaborate with developers, they need basic knowledge about technical topics and know how to speak in an engineering language
    • There is lack of trust in UX practitioners because it is a relatively new field
  • Note: Their challenges in sharing knowledge will be based on these themes!


  • In this section, the authors connect the themes into causal relationships to answer the research questions
  • Empirical studies say usability is not understood properly, but practitioners interviews in this study say otherwise
  • Organizations struggle with knowledge about UX in the following ways:
    • (i) the concept of UX and how it differs from usability
    • (ii) the potential of UX, in particular its hedonic aspect to add value to software,
    • (iii) existing UX theories, tools and methods, and how to apply them in current development processes
    • (iv) competencies required for UX work
    • (v) handling UX-related responsibilities, and
    • (vi) handling communication and collaboration among UX and non-UX practitioners.
  • Note: I may find these points still apparent today
  • Reflection on the findings
  • Authors point out what results (themes) are found in literature and which are not yet found in literature (therefore has potential to be studied)
  • “Do—goals” can easily translate to functionality and technical requirements, but be-goals” cannot
  • Research gap: “We therefore highlight a need for more research on developing industry-relevant guidelines, tools and methods for identifying and selecting underlying hedonic and pragmatic elements of UX not only for measurement purposes but also for requirements and design activities.”
  • UX can only be captured in field (in-use) – retrospective data on UX will never be accurate enough
  • UX responsibilities are diverse, therefore their primary/core role is hard to define. The fluidity of their role also allows non-UX practitioners to determine what the UX of their product should be
  • Usability tests can be done in labs, but UX must be measured in-use. Therefore it is hard to confidently determine what the UX should be in the early stages of development
  • Significance of research: Identifies how the characteristics of UX makes it hard to implement them in the design/development of software products
  • Three areas of future study:
    • “First, it would be relevant to conduct an in-depth study to investigate various approaches that the academics or practitioners propose or apply to address the identified challenges, most importantly in relation to the characteristics of UX, and different software development cultures”
    • “Second, it would also be valuable to examine the differences between UX and other quality characteristics, and their associated practices in more depth through a deeper case study.”
    • “Third, we did not study how the type of software being developed (e.g., leisure vs work) may impact the identified challenges in the studied organizations. Investigating the correlation between the types of software and practices and challenges is an interesting future research direction.”
  • My study is not about find out why UX is hard to implement, it is just exploring the ways UX is practiced through the knowledge management perspective

This study has an appendix: