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Abstract

User participation has proved to have many benefits in software development. The traditional methods for participation rely mainly on face-to-face meetings and are therefore not easily applicable to designing online services targeted at distributed consumers. Social media have become widely used among consumers and could thus offer many opportunities for involving users in software design. We present a case study in which a group of users participated for over six months in the process of designing a new online service via social media tools. The users played an active role in the development of the system, tailoring it to their own needs. Our results show that social media provide real possibilities for user involvement in software design and also shape some elements of the participation process. In social media, user contributions are mainly small and dispersed over time, but users can be involved almost continuously in the design process, thus enabling them to have a more active role in decision-making. Software development practices need to be modified so that small user contributions fit into the process.

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