How to solve UX challenges in custom software development
The purpose of any custom software is to help end users achieve their objectives while also being as easy to use as possible. And big role in achieving this goal is played by UX. That is why in this post we will be looking at some of the key UX challenges in custom software development and the best ways to solve them.
No matter how good your development and software testing teams are, if your software solution is hard to understand and use, your success is far from guaranteed. This is especially true for custom software, because in most situations you can’t really afford to start over. Once it’s implemented in your company or launched by your start-up, it’s critical that you offer an enjoyable and smooth user experience.
What is UX?
Before we start looking at some of the more common UX challenges in custom software development, let’s talk about what UX means in this context. You might have heard of concepts such as User Interface (UI) or usability in discussions related to UX. And while UX or User Experience does tackle these topics, they are simply subsets. A UX Designer deals with the entire software experience.
They look at how a user interacts with the solution, how easy it is for the user to achieve his goal, how they feel about working with the solution and so on. So, it’s both about how a user thinks, but also how he feels. You might say to yourself that all this is a bit too much. Yet, how many times have you given up on using a particular mobile app because it was hard to use. Or the number of times you left a website the instant you visited it because it was too complicated to find what you were looking for.
If you are a start-up who just bet their future on it or a company who spent a significant amount of time, money and energy developing a custom software solution, it matters a great deal.
So now that we have covered what UX is, let’s look at some of the challenges we can face in custom software development projects.
Focus on the end user
This might seem like an obvious issue but a lot of the times companies, both start-ups and larger organizations, tend to develop a tailored software product based more on their business objectives rather than the end user.
It’s important to make sure that your software actually is what users want and need. That is why user research is a top priority and why end users should be involved throughout the software development process. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating your target audience.
A lot of us have experienced working with contract or invoicing software whose interface and technical jargon only made sense to a couple of the developers and maybe one or two people from that particular department. Forgetting that a lot of the time other departments such as marketing, HR, recruitment and so on have to use the solution and will have a lot of difficulties understanding what is required. Having to go back and redo a ticket or having to chat with support personnel to clarify what needs to be done takes time away from their core responsibilities and in the end impacts a company’s bottom line.
Design versus development
If you want to increase your chances of success you also need to involve the development team in the UX process. There are many situations where the UX designer’s solution is not technically feasible or costs too much or takes too much time. By teaming up with the software development team from the very beginning you also get an input from the technical side with regard to what can be done from a programming point of view.
A smooth transition from design to development and then software testing relies on collaboration and communication between the various roles in the team.
UX design might be a subject that gets talked about quite a lot, but in the grand scheme of things it’s pretty new as a concept. And as with any new concept, people tend to have their own interpretation of what a person in this role should do. Some may see you in the same category as a business analyst while others will look at you as a designer. Some people in the project may even have reservations with regard to what you can bring to the table.
That is why as a UX designer you need to set expectations from the very beginning. Make sure you meet with the project stakeholders and explain what your role is and what responsibilities you will have in the project. This prevents any misunderstandings and makes your contribution clear.
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