This collection of papers describes the trend toward user-centered design in software development. While focusing mostly on European industries, the contents are applicable to any organization developing software with a user focus. A brief introductory paper presents the challenges facing software companies today, gives a brief history of corporate software development, and reviews the key software development principles that evolved in the automotive industry. This introduction also summarizes the two major sections of the book: the basic fundamentals and trends of user-centered design, software product management, and agile software development, and best practices.
The first part, “Fundamentals and Trends,” contains six chapters. The chapters introduce basic information about user-centered design (UCD), detail the five central categories of design activities performed in UCD, summarize the current practices of software usability in small- and medium-sized companies, explore the quality of software product management and its relationship with agile development, address the challenges of requirements engineering in an agile environment, and conclude with a discussion of the important trend of “design thinking” in the software industry and a detailed overview of its four key elements.
The second part, “Best Practices,” contains eight chapters that address practical applications of UCD in real-life industry cases. As in the first part, these papers detail the software experiences of European companies. One paper deals with tools to make design tangible in software development projects, that is, specific user design activities and artifacts that can make a significant contribution to agile development. Another paper introduces gamification, the practice of providing rewards to encourage users to use software products, such as those employed by Dropbox. The final paper provides insight into the use of software as a service (SaaS), and key success factors.
In summary, the papers provide excellent, well-written, and documented insight into the process of building software for people and the current practices of the European software industry. One can only hope that companies besides Apple and Microsoft will adopt some of these practices and make ubiquitous personal software easier to use.