How To Create Great Software Products
Whenever software developers get together to develop apps they are plagued by the one main question – What makes up a great software product? Or, How to make their product great? Of course, the technical characteristics of the software play a major role in determining its success and usability; but there is something more, it has to cater to the demands and expectations of the consumer right? You are giving the consumer what he has been lacking, so it should be perfect in every sense.
Here are the main characteristics that make up great software
(a). Operational alacrity
The product should be efficient, safe, secure and very, very usable. Your app should be such that it can be used with people who are not very familiar with mobile devices and their technicalities. The operation of software must not have any side effects, meaning it should not affect the working of another application. Operational reliability, wherein, the software works as it was conceived to be, is also an important factor.
(b). Transitional characters of the software
By transitional characteristic, what we mean is that the software must successfully exchange information with other applications without any hiccups. Developers also need to make sure that the software can function perfectly across various environments and platforms. If an app can be made reusable, then you can call your product great because, with very few modifications, it can be created for a different purpose.
(c). Revision features offered by the software
Once a software is up and running, revisions and updates have to be made at regular intervals. It should be scalable (so the software can be used by more number of users), testable (easy testing to catch bugs), modular (independent modules and units to help the developer modify and test the software parts separately) and flexible (changes can be made easily).
It’s all about making great software products
In order to build a great software product, the developer team should have vision, confer with customer feedback and produce continuous iteration. Sure, if your product is good, it will speak for itself, you don’t have throw a fortune for marketing efforts. If the product isn’t good, then no amount of marketing or storytelling will do the trick. It will all sizzle and die. That’s why it is so important to build great products, and its a different skill altogether.
Here is how you go about it
1. Build a stellar team
If you want great software, you need a great team to build it. It is as simple as that. Getting the right people for the job is half the task done, and they should be aware of the best practices of creating a minimum viable product (MVP). Stable teams built on mutual trust and led by a level-headed product manager will spell success. It is also important not to create a new team when you are about to develop a product, because they might take time to get to the performing level. Every team member should have excellent skills because all these skills are bundled together to create a great app. So you cannot waste time, experimenting.
2. Creating an MVP
As mentioned above, MVP or Minimum Viable Product is when you create a great product that delivers high returns. The process for creating a minimum viable product helps you decide what to build, and for whom? You need to create user personas to decide on the target segment, so at the end of the day, you will know what you have made is successful. The user persona will talk about what your user needs and wants. And based on this information, you can decide on the features to be incorporated. It is important to add features that you are sure people will use, and remove the ones they don’t like.
3. Build the right product – pay attention to detail
If you want your software product to be great, you have to build what people want. So, both, building the right product and building the product right are very important. The success lies in nailing the details. If you fail to do that, users might lose focus, and they might get frustrated. It is very important to have a great UI/UX design to ensure a right product build. You have just about a few seconds to grab user interest, and if your app fails to load correctly during the time, it is going to be a failure.
Look at the example of MapQuest and Google Maps. MapQuest came much before Google Maps but the latter scored better because of its enhanced visual impact, intelligent use of contrast, simple map elements, better user topography and so on. MapQuest, though was a huge success in the beginning quietly slipped away. Once you pay attention to the details, your users know you care for their interests as well.
4. The Coming Soon feature
Rather than incorporating all the features that you think your customers would like, it would be a good idea to leave a few to chance. You can test your product to a certain group of users to see what they think about the features. Add dummies or stubs for features you would like to test with the users. If someone tries to click on them, and get disappointed, you will know it is a feature you must add to the final product.
For example, if you are building a checkout process in an e-commerce based app. You can test which credit card security is favoured by the users, by adding a few of them like Bitcoin, and see what their response is. This way, you can add and remove features based on what people like.
Releasing your product after iterations will help you build a great software product. An important element of a great software is the “Help & Support” feature. A software with all the bells and whistles, but minus a good and reliable customer support installed within the software is a no winner. Your customers must be able to find answers to their questions easily, this would help them make use of all the features.
Pictures: Flicker.com / Daniel Iversen/ Bob Familiar
The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at www.Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.