Is Task Board Customization Beneficial? - An Eye Tracking Study

Oliver Karras, Jil Klünder, Kurt Schneider

The task board is an essential artifact in many agile development approaches. It provides a good overview of the project status. Teams often customize their task boards according to the team members' needs. They modify the structure of boards, define colored codings for different purposes, and introduce different card sizes. Although the customizations are intended to improve the task board's usability and effectiveness, they may also complicate its comprehension and use. The increased effort impedes the work of both the team and team externals. Hence, task board customization is in conflict with the agile practice of fast and easy overview for everyone. In an eye tracking study with 30 participants, we compared an original task board design with three customized ones to investigate which design shortened the required time to identify a particular story card. Our findings yield that only the customized task board design with modified structures reduces the required time. The original task board design is more beneficial than individual colored codings and changed card sizes. According to our findings, agile teams should rethink their current task board design. They may be better served by focusing on the original task board design and by applying only carefully selected adjustments. In case of customization, a task board's structure should be adjusted since this is the only beneficial kind of customization, that additionally complies more precisely with the concept of fast and easy project overview.

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