Why UX Matters
The software development trends are changing. Nowadays when average people are wearing glasses with built-in eyes image projectors, when a fridge or a microwave with an operating system and internet access doesn’t surprise anyone, magic words like user experience and usability are heard.
Today most of the major algorithms are implemented, programming patterns for every occasion are created. The speed of read/write of data as well as programming code optimization is less important due to high performance and affordability of the PC. Now probably the most important part of any application which provides the interaction with the human is the ease of use.
Even the simplest computer has an extremely sophisticated structure and architecture in both software and hardware. Previously, the entrance point to the IT occupancy was very high because they had to develop on the Assembler level literally (I’m pretty sure, nowadays not every developer has even heard this word). The major requirement to the programs written those days was for them just to work, the ease of use was not brought up (nevertheless big corporations paid attention to it at this time). However, the development of powerful frameworks and environments, as well as programming languages themselves, have led to the fact that understanding HOW the computer works for an average software developer became non-obligatory for writing good programs.
Now when the priorities have shifted, the problem remains that during the designing of the new program developer uses the principle “usable for me” or in better case “usable for other developers”. In the real world, most software products are used by people who are far apart from IT. This is where the paradox arises: the developer doesn’t think the same way the user does but at the same time developer takes the role of the one who will design and implement the application for the user. That is why the role of UX expert (developer, designer, that dude – put the appropriate word yourself – the meaning will stay the same) is vital for creating really successful applications in any IT project.
The UX expert can be considered as a negotiator between a user and the software. While developers are working with complex structures, logic, architectural patterns the UX expert decides in which way important information should be presented to the end user, how to implement the solution of the user’s tasks in general, prioritizes all the planned features.
On the one hand, the goal of UX expert is easy – gather all the requirements from the maximum number of the potential users and stakeholders, separate the husk from the grain and propose tools and flows which help the user achieve his goal most effectively and fast. At the same time, this is the complicated part – in order to take the responsibility to decide for all the users the UX expert should put themselves into the user’s shoes, they should think the way the user thinks, in fact, they should become a user. And in user’s place UX expert will do everything to never make the user feel stupid while working with the program. And yes – even when the software sucks user tends to blame himself for any faults, not the software. Comparing two products with the same functionality the user will definitely choose the one with better UX – the one which is easier to use, more user-friendly and which makes them feel satisfied. Don’t forget that a satisfied user is a key to spreading the good word about your application.
The UX design process can be described using the architectural metaphor – UX experts create the “blueprints” for the final product; they don’t necessarily do coding or design the UI, however they build frameworks which inform us how a user uses the product. UX experts are focused on the structure, functionality and the flow of anything which is designed in the same way as an architect develops structure, functionality and the flow of a building or premises. Continuing the architectural metaphor – when you want to build a house you don’t hire the artist who can draw the most beautiful house in the world, but you hire an architect who knows which engineering approaches to using, which construction materials to use and all the other aspects which should be taken into account in order to create the insoluble physical object.
The software development trends have already changed. Now a team of the most talented programmers is not enough to create a good product. To develop it you should see it in a user’s light. A user should become the part o the development team, part of every feature and every decision made. And the best way to achieve this is to add the role of UX expert into the team as soon as possible, preferably on the phase of design, ideally – at the very beginning when the idea is born. And your product will be usable, useful and demanded. Hence it will be successful.