What is the goal of any software project? The answer is clear: it’s to meet the needs of your end-user. We all know this on a cognitive level, but this thinking often falls by the wayside.
The experience of the consumer is critical to any project’s success. In fact, it is the very purpose of creating your product in the first place — the foundation of your organization. What’s more, you can’t just consider the user as they pertain to any one specific project — you must also have them in mind when considering all aspects of your business and brand.
But what does it mean to have the consumer in mind during the software development lifecycle (SDLC)? And why is it so important?
What Is Customer Experience?
Customer experience (CX) involves the entirety of a consumer’s interactions with a particular organization and its brand, from visiting the website to purchasing the product.
CX is an approach, but it’s far more than that — it’s also a mindset, a framework, an objective, and a value. Rather than focusing exclusively on consumer queries and demands, it must involve preemptive thinking and understanding the consumer’s needs before coming to you with a complaint. It also involves a deep conceptualization of what users are looking for.
Businesses must employ a flexible mindset and willingness to adapt to a changing market of consumer needs and wants.
What Is User Experience?
At first glance, it may seem like CX and user experience (UX) are the same. And they do have some overlap. However, while CX is holistic — a comprehensive approach to the whole business and brand — UX focuses on specific projects and products.
UX is concerned with the overall appeal and usability. Often, organizations employ a dedicated UX designer to focus on these aspects of their products and services. They contribute to creating a cohesive brand identity so that anyone knows that a given product comes from your company. This, too, means a stronger consumer experience.
Both UX and CX are important when building software with the consumer in mind.
4 Benefits of Focusing on the End-User
As you are probably well aware, there are numerous advantages to keeping an eye on the end-user throughout the development process. These are just some of the top benefits.
1. You will Solidify Your Development Process
A well-organized, carefully-honed software development process is critical for ensuring that your entire business is running smoothly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. Focusing on the end-user gives you clear goals and objectives for your projects, which is critical for mapping out your procedures. This will have a bearing not just on individual initiatives but on the overall organization and its team members.
2. You Will Better Understand Your Customers’ Pain Points
Making assumptions about people you don’t understand and don’t know can lead to enormous problems down the line. But keeping an eye on the user will enable you to understand your consumer — and their needs and wants.
This process involves market research and constructing personas for your users. Since people and their pain points are ongoing and ever-evolving, this, too, must be an ongoing process. Your goal is to solve problems for your consumer, and this starts with a comprehensive view of who your users really are.
3. You will Gain an Edge Over the Competition
The software development market is expanding rapidly, with new businesses across niches and sectors constantly entering the tech game. You need to stand out among similar organizations, showing how you are unique.
When building your software, always having the user in mind allows you to add value to your products and services. You’re showing your customers and potential customers that you’re loyal to them — just as you want their loyalty, too. And you’re proving that you and your brand are a worthwhile investment.
4. You Will Continuously Improve
Continuous improvement is essential in the software development process. You are always trying to make your products even better. When you think about the people who are actually using those products, it becomes clear why this is so necessary. People change. Markets change. And your business must respond to those changes and trends.
Considering your user means responding when they report problems or bugs. It means having insight into why they want what they want in their software. And it means recognizing that their priorities will change — and you must adapt accordingly.
The Role of Quality Assurance
Also critical to this process? Quality assurance (QA). End-user development means that you must put forth the best software, the products that your users simply can’t live without. And this demands a thorough and comprehensive QA testing and analysis process.
QA specialists not only test for bugs and problems — they also ensure the overall appeal and quality of the product. Other forms of QA testing include:
- Performance testing
- Usability testing
- End to end testing
- Interactive testing
- Accessibility testing
- Integration testing
- Stress testing
- Security testing
It’s important to have a dedicated QA team. While these professionals will work closely with the software engineers, they have separate responsibilities and skillsets, along with a separate — but no less critical — role.
It may sound obvious, but focusing on the end-user is not as straightforward a concept as you might imagine. Too often, software development teams forget to make the needs and wants of their consumers central to their processes and procedures. But it is absolutely pivotal to your project and overall business to ensure that you always have an eye on the consumer — no matter what.