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Integrating User eXperience Principles and Practices into Software Development Organizations: An Empirical Investigation

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Background: To be effective, User eXperience (UX) principles and practices need to be integrated into development processes and organizations, what we refer to as UX integration. However, software companies often face various challenges that hinder a successful UX integration. Objective: The aim of this thesis is to facilitate and improve the current state of UX integration in the software industry. To that end, we present an empirical investigation of current UX integration challenges and success factors and analyze them in relation to other software quality characteristics, in particular, usability. Method: We performed a series of studies, mainly in the Swedish software industry and applied a variety of methods including interviews, observations, and workshops. We used Grounded Theory (GT) and thematic analysis to drive our data gathering and to analyze our data. Results: We showed that UX integration challenges and success factors are both technical and organizational, however, they mainly belong to the latter category. We found that various decisions that are made outside the authority of UX practitioners have an inevitable impact on enabling or prohibiting UX integration and that the integration is influenced by various changes that organizations undergo over time as well as planned UX initiatives. Our findings underline the similarities between UX integration and organizational change, in general, and Software Process Improvement (SPI) in particular. We also found that the known unique characteristics of UX (subjective, holistic, dynamic, context-dependent, and worthwhile) have implications not only for the day-to-day work of practitioners but also for UX integration. Based on our findings, we propose various UX integration principles and practices to help software companies in their integration efforts. Conclusion: We argue that to prevent a lopsided focus on the pragmatic aspect of UX in the software industry, software practitioners and researchers should explicitly differentiate between UX and other software quality characteristics, in particular, usability and address the unique characteristics of UX in their work. In addition, they should apply the existing body of knowledge in the two fields of organizational change and SPI especially to address the organizational issues concerning UX integration. Although our focus has been on UX, our findings also may shed light on integrating other multidisciplinary and emerging concepts into the complex context of software organizations.
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