UX in software development: 3 ways to avoid expensive errors before it’s too late

by Hans Lambert Pederson| Knowledge

bar graph checking off ux design errors

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Learn how to avoid costly amends by making UX a part of your software development process.

In the "old days", the general goal of developing software solutions was to make sure everything works. If the feature was present and functioning, it didn't really matter if the software was easy to use or had an attractive user interface. 

However, times have changed. The relationship between user experience (UX) and software development has progressed.

In the 1990s, the academic world started to take a closer interest in how they could create better digital solutions. Businesses also recognised the value of design. Nevertheless, the UX of software development can often form the final part of the process in a superficial last-ditch attempt to make the software more aesthetically pleasing. 

Users today have since evolved. Thanks to the development of advanced digital solutions from international companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Airbnb and JustEat, customers are demanding more.

They now expect to be enthralled, impressed and even seduced by the digital solutions on the market. UX design is no longer a "nice-to-have" component added right at the death. It’s an indispensable part of any decent software development process which can be found in solutions for professional use and the public sector.

To create a solution that exceeds ever-increasing user expectations and doesn’t accumulate large costs after launch, you must consider these three key UX software development factors.

UX design and software development: how to avoid costly errors

#1 The user experience becomes an afterthought 

The software should be built around the user experience, not the other way around.

In software teams, the main focus is often on the technical. Sometimes, it's only when all the features are in place that someone from the team raises the need for a UX designer or software architect to review and assist with technology improvements and fixes. Making improvements to fundamental aspects of the application at this stage becomes costly and disruptive.

To minimise costs and disruptions, it pays to get a UX designer or software architect in during the early stages of the software development process.

Of course, the UX designer or architect can make perform updates and make tweaks at any stage. But to build the best solution, it pays to get someone in to assist before the basic structures are put into place.

The UX design process is similar to building a house. After the painter has gone and the house is completely furnished, you realise you need an electrician to install a light. Obviously, having electricity installed at the end of your construction project is going to be difficult, especially if you want it done properly. It’ll be incredibly expensive too.

Consulting with a UX designer early on will prevent a situation where the software developer will be required to change the entire structure of the digital product. It’s a sure-fire way to ensure the software is built right at the first attempt.   

#2 UX and UI design are broad disciplines

Some think that a UX designer is a smart, creative type of individual who works some magic to make the software look good.

First, it must be made clear that the roles of UX and UI designers are entirely different. Second, this is an extremely simplistic view of what a UX designer does.

Yes, it's possible to have a one-man design team. But delivering high-quality work on your own can be very difficult because UX and UI are broad disciplines.

UX encompasses a wide range of disciplines that require different competencies: user surveys, study and design of user flows, desk research and information architecture. UI design also has its own set of disciplines, including the establishment of how the brand is represented in the app as well as preparing mockups, style guides and icon design. Considering all of that falls under UX design, you can easily see how a one-man design team will fall short.

Software teams should therefore think long and hard about whether these competencies exist within their team – and whether they’re adequate for the job in hand. If not, they should consider partnering with other companies that specialise in UX design such as Stoked.

#3 It’s not the UX designer who has to make all the design decisions

As we've already mentioned, UX design is a broad discipline. It overlaps with a lot of the more technical disciplines where close collaboration is needed.

This is why a designer is not the only person who should be making design decisions. The entire software development team needs to sit down and work together to ensure that the decisions are made on a multidisciplinary and realistic basis. 

You see, UX designers work a lot on the navigation within the digital solution and the information architecture. This discipline is closely related to the data structure – i.e. how the data is modelled in the back-end. Because of this, the UX designer and the database architect must work together if they want to find the best solution in this area. The database architect will provide a technical perspective while the UX designer will have a more user-oriented and business perspective.

By collaborating with the different members of the team, it’s much easier to reach the design decisions that would best serve the users, developers and the company. 

Key takeaways

The need for good UX design in software development has never been greater. Competition among the IT giants places pressure on the design capabilities of smaller companies. Users demand a great UX from all digital solutions, not just from software created by companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft. They also expect it from less niche-specific software solutions for business use. 

Functionality is no longer what sets your product apart from the competition. If you want to stand out, you need to look at the user experience – the feeling that a user has after using your digital product. If your solution doesn’t live up to their expectations right from the start, you're out of the race before it's even begun.

If you think your current digital product isn’t meeting customer expectations or you need some assistance getting the UX design and software development processes right from the start, give our team at Stoked a call today.

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