Developers often get wrapped up in the mechanics of software development — the code, testing, documentation, and so on. However, one of the most important things you can do as a software engineer is ensure that your users have an authentic experience using your application. Authentic experiences make users feel like they’re part of the product — whether it be because it feels like an extension of their own lives or because it provides them with what they need to get things done. If your users don’t have an authentic experience, they may be hesitant to try again or recommend your app to others. Thankfully, keeping your users authentic isn’t overwhelmingly challenging or expensive. Here are five tips on how you can develop software that’s authentic:
Speak To Your Users
Before you build anything, you should have a good idea of who will be using your product. This is especially important if you’re building a product for a niche audience. Asking people what they need is the first step to finding out what they actually want. People like talking about themselves, so you should try to get them comfortable with sharing their views and ideas. Whether it’s via email interviews, focus groups, or in-person conversations, you can learn a lot by listening to your users. When building features, you can use this information to prioritize where you should spend your time and energy. Looking at your users in a context-aware way can help you avoid over-engineering features or getting stuck in a rut.
Be A User Of You App
You may be the best engineer in the world, but if your app is frustrating or frustratingly bad, no one is going to use it. One of the best ways to make your users feel at ease with your product is to make it part of their lives. When you use the product, be mindful of how it makes you feel. If it feels awkward or unnatural, that’s a red flag. If it’s something you use frequently, then it’s a good sign you’re on the right track. Your app should feel like an extension of yourself — it should feel like an extension of your team. It should be a tool that helps you get things done. If it doesn’t feel natural or easy to use, it may be because it’s designed in a way that doesn’t cater to its users. Your app should be designed to make people’s lives easier — not more challenging or convoluted.
Understand What Makes People Human
People are individuals with unique personalities, preferences, and backgrounds — so it’s important to take a human-centered approach when designing your product. Some of the most common issues users experience with products are friction and confusion. Friction occurs when users need to “undo” what they’ve done to achieve an outcome. For example, save, fetch, update, and delete logic is a common source of friction in apps. Confusion occurs when users don’t understand the intent behind a feature or workflow. If users are confused about how to use your product, they may give up on it entirely.
Provide Helpful Not Helpful Guidance
At the core of a helpful, authentic experience is guidance. The point of any app is to help people achieve their goals — so you want to make sure your product isn’t getting in the way of this. Guiding your users through their journey with your product can help them get things done more efficiently and avoid costly mistakes. If your product requires a lot of learning and trial and error, you may be hindering the user experience. Being proactive about removing barriers to entry and providing helpful guidance can help your users succeed.
Surprise And Delight
When you’re developing new features or revamping existing ones, try to surprise and delight your users. If your product has a long history, try to incorporate as many of the “tricks of the trade” as you can. If your product is relatively new, you can still incorporate features that surprise and delight your users. Surprise your users with features they never expected to see in your product. When implementing new features, try to think of ways to surprise and delight your users. For example, if your product helps people track their health, but one of the most common use cases is tracking food intake, then it may be beneficial to add a feature that helps users track food intake. Adding such a feature can surprise and delight your users. Doing so will help show users how your product can be used in unexpected ways and make people feel more confident in using your product.
Why Software Engineers Should Care About Authenticity
Authentic experiences make users feel like they’re part of the product — whether it be because it feels like an extension of their own lives or because it provides them with what they need to get things done. If your users don’t have an authentic experience, they may be hesitant to try again or recommend your app to others. Thankfully, keeping your users authentic isn’t overwhelmingly challenging or expensive. Here are five tips on how you can develop software that’s authentic: – Speak To Your Users – Be A User Of You App – Understand What Makes People Human – Provide Helpful Not Helpful Guidance – Surprise And Delight – Why Software Engineers Should Care About Authenticity