Have you ever opened a new app or scanned a new website only to be met with confusion? Maybe it was difficult to navigate, the layout wasn’t clear, or you just couldn’t find what you were looking for. Or maybe it wasn’t the design or layout, but the app or website simply didn’t work well, load correctly, or move fast enough. What did you feel in that moment? Frustration? Annoyance? Let down?

While there are many reasons that your interaction with that particular piece of software or technology was difficult, we’d bet that a contributing factor could have been a lack of Human-Centered Design. 

What do we mean?

As developers and designers, we love making things that are innovative, unique and even beautiful, but if we start with technology first, instead of the people actually using the custom application, we’re missing the boat. And ultimately, if you’re considering creating a piece of custom software or custom application, your customers could wind up frustrated too. 

Human-centered design is more than just learning from humans—it’s being human. Real, imperfect, social, and inclusive humans. When we embrace our own humanity, we can understand the human experience and design innovative solutions for it. — Nivi Ramesh Brett

We firmly believe in putting Humans at the center of any custom application and also working to actually understand the humans that will be users of the tech we create. But, how can we make sure this happens? Here are 4 ways!

Talk to Real Users Before Starting a Custom Application

The best way to get feedback about what people actually want to see and experience is simple – talk to them! Interview some of your real, past, present, and potential customers and see where their pain points might have been in the process of working with your organization. 

What features would they like to see in the custom application? 

What would be helpful? 

What was missing in the process that could have made things better or easier for them? 

What was frustrating?

Asking these questions FIRST will get you started on the right path to making sure your users are the most important part of the technology you’re creating. 

Get to the Root of the Problem

After chatting with some of your real users, you’ll want to look at their feedback in a deeper way. You want to get to the root of the problem, not just glance at the surface of what some of the issues may be. 

For instance, if a customer said that they “didn’t know what to do” at a certain point your process, like ordering one of your products, there’s probably a deeper root issue to why they were confused.

Was the design not user-friendly?

Was the layout confusing?

What was wrong on the back-end?

Receive feedback and dig deeper into it to make sure you’re solving a user’s real and root problems. 

Build Small and Test Your Custom Application Often

This is the ‘Releasing Early and Often’ philosophy. 

“Release early, release often (also: time-based releases, sometimes abbreviated RERO) is a software development philosophy that emphasizes the importance of early and frequent releases in creating a tight feedback loop between developers and testers or users, contrary to a feature-based release strategy.” — Source

This approach allows custom application development to progress more quickly, users to have a louder voice in its development, and ultimately create a better software product. 

Simply put: It’s easier to keep users at the center of a custom application when it’s built-in small phases and is tested often. When you build in phases, you can receive more clear and recent feedback and then use that feedback to build the next phase in an even better way. You’re also taking feedback from actual users and directly using it as you build, keeping them front and center the entire time. 

Don’t Limit HCD to Designers

We operate from the HCD perspective as developers, designers, product managers and even in the way we run our business here at MH. We believe that people should ALWAYS come first, whether that’s our clients and their customers during the build of custom software or in the way we shape our culture for our team members. Keeping people at the heart of everything you do doesn’t just create a great custom application, but a great business strategy too. 

Are you interested in creating a custom application that keeps people at the center? We’d love to chat with you about it! Schedule a free consultation anytime!

Would you like to know if custom software is right for you?