Pete McCain is a technology startup enthusiast, associated with AppVelocity.ca
There is no dearth of technologically advanced software products in the market. Developers are pushing the envelope for the kind of products one can expect with their excellent coding skills.
However, the ecosystem is also flooded with cases where a brilliant software development project doesn't get the kind of recognition and success it deserves. And among the various underlying causes of such failure is the lack of emphasis on the user experience (UX).
In this article, we'll discuss how a developer can make UX an integral part of the development cycle, and therefore, exponentially improve the chances of the product being a success story. But let's first understand the scope of UX and why developers should bother about it.
Put simply, UX design is all about curating the emotions the felt by the end-user on interacting with the product. Ideally, you’d want them to feel delighted, satisfied, and wanting to come back upon the interaction.
A lot of factors come into play when trying to design one such experience. It encompasses everything right from the color and branding to the load times. In fact, how the user comes to know about the product can also be a part of the user experience.
It must be evident that it's impossible to keep the user experience and product development into separate baskets. It would be best if you kept the UX in mind while developing the product and vice-versa. It is why developers also need to understand UX design's various nuances and put them into action right from the initial development phase.
We know it's much easier said than done; therefore, we've come up with UX design tips for developers. While these won't make you a full-fledged UX designer, they will help you create more customer-centric software and appreciate the design side of things. So let's get started:
Being a developer and a human, it's quite likely that you'll lend your personal bias to the products you build. Or you may only consult upon the product with only those in your vicinity. In such a case, the product's end goal may not be realized even if you put your heart and soul into it.
The best way to steer clear of such assumptions and biases is to carry out comprehensive research and validate them. You need to have a clear understanding of the target persona and make sure you include similar personalities in the study rather than collecting inputs from just about everyone.
Software development experts are supposed to take care of customer expectations and experiences. Irrespective of the development methodology you adopt, you need to curate a satisfactory customer experience carefully.
You need to make sure you can lend the right emotions to the user when they use your product. It should be congruent with the overall brand voice and make users feel right at home. Make sure you keep customer experiences as well as the brand voice in mind while building the software.
All of us have been guilty of trying to showcase our skills and going overkill on the features at one point or another. While having additional features always helps, you don't want to annoy the users with it.
Most users end up using only a handful of functionalities while the rest rarely get a visit. You should identify the features likely to be used more often and keep them at the forefront and easily accessible. Everything else can be easily placed on the sidelines as long as it does not affect performance or usability.
It’s easy to get carried away during the development stages and start working on a product that no one wanted. If you wish to deliver an excellent UX then you need to treat the target audience’s problem as your north star and let it guide you.
Make sure the deliverable is objectively addressing the issue you set out to resolve. Once that is achieved, you can go about adding bells and whistles to the product if needed.
Like any other skill, UX design can also be learned through continuous practice and exposure to rich resources. You can go through the popular software and web applications to get inspired by how the development team designed the UX.
You can draw conclusions for what must have moved them to make a UX related decision. For instance, adding an ‘applause’ button instead of a ‘like’ button on Medium may not seem like much. But that subtle feature motivates the readers to appreciate good content and reverberates Medium’s community-centric model.
Novice developers often fall into the trap of leaving UX design for later development cycles, and there is no bigger sin you can commit these days. Make UX design an intrinsic part of software development.
Work closely with UX designers and give value to their opinion. Some teams often start away without bringing UX designers into the mix, whereas the designers should always be one sprint cycle ahead of developers. It helps developers make more room for UX considerations while building the product.
Folks often confuse UX with user interface (UI) design. UX design transcends well beyond the scope of just UI. Apart from aesthetics and workflows, it has also to do with the performance. A sluggish interface or slow loading screens are obviously going to make up for a poor user experience. But such issues can only be negated through better development practices.
So don't let your guard drop while trying to create better user experiences, as performance will always be the key to the user's kind of emotions after going through the software.
The end-users are getting more tech-savvy as we speak. They are no longer confined to their PCs, waiting for the pages to load up. In fact, the abundance of alternatives has now given them the option to walk away, and they often exercise this freedom.
The software or web app should work flawlessly on all the possible devices that the user might deploy. From laptops to smart watches, you need to cover all the bases to deliver a truly omnichannel experience to users.
How do you feel when you know you are safe? When you know, no one will be able to violate your privacy? You'd want to stay longer in such an environment, right? Well, the user also goes through similar emotions once they know you have left no stone unturned to take care of their security and privacy.
Make sure you do all you can to provide a safe ecosystem to users, both online and offline. This would also help the brand reputation and turn users into long term customers.
These tips only scratch the surface of how software development and UX design are so intertwined. Being a developer, you must've had some first-hand experiences on the matter. Share some with us. Also, let us know of all the different strategies you use as a developer to facilitate superb UX designs on your products better.
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