Integrating Agile and UX Methodology

Both Agile development and User Experience (UX) design methodologies have been popular in software design and project management spheres as of late, and despite their popularity, there has been little effort to integrate them. Each approaches development from different perspectives—Agile is more focused on coding and project management, while UX is concerned with the usability of the product and actual user interface. Of course, these are two sides of the same coin. A software solution is unusable without some form of user interface, and a user interface is but an empty shell without a quality software product behind it.  

Ferreira, Sharp, & Robinson (2011) suggest a framework for Agile and UX integration, founded on five principles:

  1. The user should be involved in the development process; 
  2. Designers and developers must be willing to communicate and work together extremely closely; 
  3. Designers must be willing to feed the developer with prototypes and user feedback; 
  4. UCD practitioners must be given ample time in order to discover the basic users’ needs before any code; and, 
  5. Agile/UCD integration must exist within a cohesive project management framework.

The framework itself has both the typical software developers and UX designers running in parallel iterations, giving and receiving feedback in each iteration, and the UX team working one Sprint ahead of the development team. Both start with a Sprint 0 to obtain context and task analysis for the project ahead. This ultimately generates User Stories, which are then distributed across the Sprints. These Stories first go through the UX team before being delivered to the development team, so that the UX designers can begin with the User Stories and intended outcomes to produce the interface. The authors observed both design and development teams in action, and noted many areas for integration and improvement. Most notably, the authors found that UX designers had no User Stories specific to them and found it difficult to design one sprint ahead. Usually, they were either on the same Sprint as the developers or one behind.

The authors present a solid argument for integrating Agile and UX methodologies, and since the article publication in 2011, the idea has caught on (e.g., Gothelf 2018). A variety of Agile- and UX- flavored methods are out there in the DevOps world at any moment and have dedicated followers and applications. 


Ferreira, J., Sharp, H., & Robinson, H. (2011). User experience design and agile development: managing cooperation through articulation work. Software: Practice and Experience, 41(9), 963-974. doi:10.1002/spe.1012

Gothelf, J. (2018). Here is how UX design integrates with Agile and Scrum. Retrieved from

MetroMaps and T-Cubes: Beyond Gantt Charts

Martínez, Dolado, & Presedo (2010) discuss two visual modeling tools for software development and planning, MetroMap and T-Cube. This discussion is in the context of greater attention being paid to the development process and metrics, not just the software engineering itself. A concession the authors make very early on is that Gantt charts are the prevalent method for project mapping in organizations, and that the research to date shows they are not effective for communicating, especially when different groups are involved. Enter the MetroMap, a way of visualizing abstract train-of-thought information that communicates both high-level and detailed information to viewers.

Image courtesy of Martínez, Dolado, & Presedo (2010)

T-Cube visualization is reminiscent of a Rubik’s Cube, utilizing the three-dimensional nature of a physical cube, the individual cubes making up the whole, and the facets (colors) on each individual cube. These correspond to tasks and attributes. The authors utilized a specific software set to illustrate these concepts, represented in the article. As the tasks and attributes are written independently, they can be represented by workgroup, type of task, module or time.

These two methods have their strengths and weaknesses, both individually and together. At first glance, it is obvious that the MetroMap can represent many indicators at once while the T-Cube can only show one at a time. MetroMap uses a variety of icons and styles to represent information while the T-Cube uses traditional treemaps. The authors size up the tools in a simple comparison table, noting that MetroMap generally has the edge on viewing a lot of information at once.

Features and benefits are great, but how does actual use differ? Is one easier than the other in practice? The authors examined a shortest-path route to accomplish the same task in both tools, and found that MetroMap was the most efficient in multiple scenarios. In all cases the actions were more basic and straightforward. Overall, either tool is more informative and effective than Gantt charts. Access to information and ability to understand it are paramount in any planning and development exercise. These are two tools that better enable that.


Martínez, A., Dolado, J., & Presedo, C. (2010). Software Project Visualization Using Task Oriented Metaphors. JSEA, 3, 1015-1026.