Everyone wants superior software. Entire businesses are made out of a single program. Yet over half of all IT projects fail completely, and this is despite spending a lot of money to make the project work. When designing software, what should you look for? In my opinion, some of the best software is essential, functional, scalable, and simple.
Designed with the User in Mind
We’ve all experienced user-less design: menus that make no sense, features that no one uses, and a color scheme that makes your eyes bleed. Seeing profits from a piece of software doesn’t mean that the software itself is any good; it simply means that it solves a specific problem better than other options. The best software, the kind that users rave about and refuse to move away from, may not be perfect. In fact, some of the most popular software in existence isn’t very well made. Instead, it solves problems users experience. it is designed to make sense to the user, even if it doesn’t make sense to the developer.
When we designed custom software for Randy Shepard and Associates, we did it because off-the-shelf solutions weren’t enough. The way they saw it, three options existed: buy a handful of different products and force the back-ends to work, change their business processes to fit the software available, or build custom software that aligned with their business processes. They chose the latter.
When you’re designing a piece of software, make sure that you’ve clearly defined what need is being met. Users won’t use a product that solves a problem they don’t have.
Plays Well With Others
The best software connects well with other pieces of software. Gone are the days when people wanted to use one piece of software to do everything. Now, systems are changing so rapidly that no one software suite can keep up. The new normal is being able to connect programs together via an API with microservices driving a custom solution that is more flexible to the needs of today’s users.
“The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.”
The ability to implement a feature does not grant a license to do so. Overcrowding an application with features that users don’t need wastes time and complicates both software and documentation. The best software solves a user’s problem in simple ways. Adding features that aren’t needed wastes development time on features that won’t be used. The more code there is, the more that can go wrong.
When we began our work with MilTribe, we noticed that the previous developer had a lot of extra features and code bits that didn’t have anything to do with the core set of features. This wasted time both in its original development and in our time spent fixing the various tracks. Applying the KISS method would have saved MilTribe time.
Agile development also demands simplicity. With agile, you develop your project with the minimum viable product in mind. That is, the goal of development is to determine the core set of features the project will contain, and then design, develop, test, and implement each one of those features across multiple sprints. This type of development lets you see results faster than if you spent two years developing a product only to discover at year one that it didn’t mean the needs of the user base.
Grows With Your Business
Finally, good software is scalable. That is to say that the code base is easily expanded upon. Sometimes, the scalability depends on the original language choice used. Other times it simply means that the developer designed it with enough hooks so that future features could be added at a later point. Or, it could mean that the program can handle more transactions, a higher user base, and more demand than it was originally designed for. What good is a piece of software that is too slow to function?
SlideWave designs software that works well the first time and is done in budget and on time. Learn more.