Exploring principles of user-centered agile software development: A literature review

Manuel Brhel, Hendrik Meth, Alexander Maedche, Karl Werder

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In the last decade, software development has been characterized by two major approaches: agile software development, which aims to achieve increased velocity and flexibility during the development process, and user-centered design, which places the goals and needs of the system’s end-users at the center of software development in order to deliver software with appropriate usability. Hybrid development models, referred to as user-centered agile software development (UCASD) in this article, propose to combine the merits of both approaches in order to design software that is both useful and usable.

This paper aims to capture the current state of the art in UCASD approaches and to derive generic principles from these approaches. More specifically, we investigate the following research question: Which principles constitute a user-centered agile software development approach?

We conduct a systematic review of the literature on UCASD. Identified works are analyzed using a coding scheme that differentiates four levels of UCASD: the process, practices, people/social and technology dimensions. Through subsequent synthesis, we derive generic principles of UCASD.

We identified and analyzed 83 relevant publications. The analysis resulted in a comprehensive coding system and five principles for UCASD: (1) separate product discovery and product creation, (2) iterative and incremental design and development, (3) parallel interwoven creation tracks, (4) continuous stakeholder involvement, and (5) artifact-mediated communication.

Our paper contributes to the software development body of knowledge by (1) providing a broad overview of existing works in the area of UCASD, (2) deriving an analysis framework (in form a coding system) for works in this area, going beyond former classifications, and (3) identifying generic principles of UCASD and associating them with specific practices and processes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Pages (from-to)163–181
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • agile software development
  • Systematic literature review
  • User-Centered Design


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring principles of user-centered agile software development: A literature review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this