Know your users well to build high-quality apps

For me, quality means satisfying the needs of the users and delivering value to them. You have to know your users well to build high-quality apps.

Earlier I described how to build high-quality apps. In this article, I’ll explore what you can do to understand the needs of your users.

Quality of Apps

My definition of the quality of an app is how much it satisfies the needs of the people who use it and the value that it delivers to them.

This definition takes an external view, putting quality in the eyes of the beholders (the users) who decides if a software product or service has sufficient quality, or not.

If the quality of an app is insufficient according to the users then they will not use it. This is what makes it so important to design quality in from the start and don’t deliver earlier versions of apps with insufficient quality.

Fitness for use

To deliver value, an app has to fit the purpose. It has to do what users need and expects it to do.

Defining the needs for apps may include activities like user experience (UX) design or user interface (UI) design. The aim of such activities is to help teams to produce a software product that is easy to use and does what users expect that it would do. Developers and testers need to communicate closely with the designers doing UX/UI activities to understand how the product should look and how the users will be using it.

Fitness is a relative thing, it’s not binary. Usually, apps don’t cover all needs, one app might have a better fit for you than another one.

A technique to design apps for fitness is personas. They can be used to represent and understand typical users of your app. Each persona describes a specific category of users and explores how they use the app, their values, expectations and needs, background, role, and responsibilities, etc. My experience is that personas make it easier for teams to identify with the users.

You have to be connected with your users, communicate as much as possible with them, and collaborate to increase your understanding of their needs and deliver apps that are fit for use.

Where fitness is not a binary thing, the decision to use an app or to not use it is binary and often final:

As I give talks and workshops all around the world I travel a lot. I personally book my flights and hotels; it gives me more flexibility on how and when I can travel. One of my favorite apps to explore flight opportunities on my tablet is Skyscanner, it’s relatively easy to use and usually comes up with suitable flights.

I tried Kayak but found the user interface too messy and less suitable for me, so I quickly uninstalled it as it didn’t fit my needs. Occasionally I use Hipmunk on my laptop when I’m trying to find a connection that fits into my schedule, but usually setting the departure and arrival time and duration filter on Skyscanner does the job for me.

What Drives Quality

The book What Drives Quality provides a lean approach to quality, which analyses the full development chain from customer request to delivering products. It focuses on the interaction between all involved in delivering high-quality software to customers, quicker, at a lower cost.

This book provides many techniques and examples that help you to know your users well and to build high-quality apps.

Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.

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