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How App Development Starts And Ends With Your Customer

by 31st January, 2017

Suppose you want to create a new automobile. If you start with your collection of tools and say, “What sort of car can I build with these tools?” then you probably won’t be very successful. Any successful product or service offering has to start with what customers want and work backward toward the technology needed to create it. Apps are no exception.

The user experience makes or breaks the success of an app, and when a developer loses sight of the end-user anywhere in the process, there’s a much greater risk of creating a product that the customer won’t like or won’t use.

Problems When Starting With Workflow

Some app developers mistakenly take a “back-end to front-end” approach to app creation, with the team starting with things like logic, workflow, and data elements as design drivers. What they often end up with is an app that may accomplish certain tasks, yet does little to nothing for the experience of the user.

The better approach is to start with what the customer or user wants and then tailor the back-end technology to deliver it. Defining end-user needs is not a mystical process, but generally starts with talking to users about the app rather than assuming knowledge of what they want. This simple step can prevent the wasted effort of coding something end-users won’t bother with.

Customer Focus at Every Step

The focus on the customer shouldn’t stop after the app developer asks what they want. Throughout the app design process, developers have to ask for feedback and pay attention to it. They should have users try out prototypes and encourage them to talk out loud whilst they do so. End-users frequently offer up spontaneous, valuable insights developers wouldn’t normally get from surveys or more formal evaluation processes (though there is a place for these in app development too). Speaking of best practices in terms of app development, SearchCIO Executive Editor Linda Tucci describes part of the app developer’s role as that of “customer anthropologist.”

What Customers Can Do to Help

Before meeting with app developers, customers can encourage decision-makers to gather information that may seem unorthodox, but that can be incredibly valuable to app developers. For example, they could shadow sales calls, or go on ride-alongs in service trucks to learn what app users need their apps to do, and how apps can help or hinder their processes.

Businesses looking to develop apps for their customers can interact with consumers in person or on social media to learn what they would like a customer-focused app to look like and accomplish. Identifying “pain points” that app developers can address gives developers insight they need to ensure the app meets or exceeds end-user needs.

A User-Centred Development Process

Developers with a user-centred approach will include designers, developers, users, and other stakeholders from day one. While there are variations on the user-centred approach, it generally goes something like this:

• Empathizing with users, their problems, expectations, goals, and struggles
• Defining the purpose of the app and the key issues it will resolve, and creating a “user profile” defining typical user scenarios with the app
• Brainstorming workflow and design to begin structuring app content and workflows
• Prototyping to test the process and concept and develop a mockup
• Testing the mockup by gathering feedback and determining if goals have been met

By taking these steps, risks of creating an app that sits unused, or worse, one that frustrates the user, are minimised.

Conclusion

When apps are built based on customer needs, expectations, and experiences, they’re more likely to be used and to fulfil their purpose of making life easier for the end-user. Choosing a professional app development company like Glance ensures that your app developer starts with customer needs and listens throughout the app development process. The result is an app that empowers employee app users, or an app that engages customers and supports brand-building.

At Glance, we’re in the business of helping companies like yours expand revenue, improve productivity, and build brand recognition through custom mobile apps. Feel free to send us an enquiry, and we will put together a custom plan to develop the app you need to compete more effectively and stand out from the crowd.

Simon

Simon has worked in the software industry for over 20 years; intent on always producing work of the highest standard and creating software products that genuinely makes things better for people. Simon has previously held positions ranging from Developer, Technical Consultant, Head of Development through to CTO and more recently founder and CEO of several high profile technology companies.

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