The gap between how the academic world develops usability and user experience (UX) methods, and how the
industry employs these methods is perceived as both broad and deep. But is that the real picture – and has there been a change in how companies work within these fields over the past two years? By conducting interviews with eight companies, this paper tries to answer these two questions. The companies were initially interviewed in 2013 and by follow-up interviews in 2015 the paper draws a picture of how the companies work with UX and usability in an agile development environment. We identify the challenges they are facing and if, and how the work progresses. We found that the UX maturity during these two years had changed significantly. This was revealed by the fact that almost all of the companies in 2015 had implemented or were in the process of developing a UX strategy together with more formalized UX processes. They also allocated more resources to conduct UX and usability work than earlier. We found that all of the companies made use of low-fi prototyping, followed by usability testing, workshops, personas, expert evaluations, user or customer journeys, customer visits and user task analyses. Almost all the companies carried out development using the Scrum framework. All of the companies were interested in the idea of agile UX, and found the idea of using the developers as a UX resource interesting. This, together with an idea of modifying existing usability methods to be used in an agile, industrial setting could be a solution to bridge the gap between academia and the industry.
Lars Bo Larsen