It hasn’t been long since software developers were designing products that had little regard for how users responded to them. Probably everyone can remember an instance where an app was so frustrating to use it actually turned them off from the brand it represented.

Maybe it was overly complex password protections. Or maybe the interface was so full of distractions the user couldn’t find their way around.

Back when even the big brands with unlimited resources were making those kinds of mistakes, designing software with the end user in mind was the exception, not the rule. But fast forward to today, and we can clearly see how User Experience (UX) shapes custom software development.

Here are five ways UX is changing the world of software development, from the ground up.

1. UX is Now a Differentiator for Businesses in a Competitive World

One reason developers have embraced UX is that their clients demand it. Clients, who range from the boutique retailer who relies on a consumer app to sell products, to major the enterprise with thousands of employees that need to remain productive in order to sustain growth, are now approaching developers with sophisticated UX goals in mind:

“I need to have as little downtime as possible while my staff learns this new system.”

“We need an app that makes it easy for people to quickly save their favorite products.”

Companies have learned that customer-facing apps need to be delightful in order for them to stay competitive. Enterprises have learned that they need to pay attention to the internal apps their employees use because of onboarding and productivity issues that can make or break morale.  

2. UX Now Needs to be Considered Early on in the Dev Process

In order for the teams who develop custom software to satisfy the types of client requirements mentioned above, they have learned that UX can’t just be icing on the cake.

It’s a fundamental part of the product they’re going to be delivering and, as such, needs to be considered right from the beginning (or, in industry terms, the Discovery Phase).  

3. Making UX a Priority Elevates Your Deliverables to New Heights of Quality

When the products you develop for clients end up helping their business grow or remain competitive, you can feel proud that you’ve done your job well. And what kinds of results are businesses interested in? Well, things that help the bottom line, of course.

Here’s what custom software should be.:

  • Efficient and easy to use
  • Helpful in promoting the brand
  • The best possible tool for the job

Taking these goals and applying good, sound UX practices to all of them will result in a far better product for the client. UX will actually help the development team achieve those goals on an even higher level for the client.

4. Software Dev Teams Need to Get to Know the (Internal) User

One thing managers dread is updating internal software. The main reason, other than the spending of resources, is that they foresee a huge drop in productivity as their staff climbs up a steep learning curve.

Custom software that’s intuitive and which doesn’t have bugs can help eliminate that dread because it tends to flatten out the learning curve. Managers are happy because they save time on training and avoid tons of downtime. Staff is happy because they can quickly get back to being productive without too much pain after the product is deployed.

Therefore, it’s important for dev teams to incorporate a complete Discovery Phase into the development process. That will help them understand the needs of internal app users.

5. Software Dev Teams Now Need to Get to Know the Customer

Just as it’s key to get to know the goals and pain points of the employees who will be using an internal app, it’s also key to understand the customer. If it’s a customer-facing app that’s being developed, this will help the team to understand the brand better. This is important because brand recognition is a common goal of custom software products.

Buyer’s journeys, personas, and the like didn’t use to be within the developer’s professional domain. Now, because UX is changing the world of custom software development, these types of “Discovery” tools are essential to creating a good product. Only by thoroughly getting to know the client, their customers, and their employees can development teams provide great tools.

It all starts with a Design Thinking mindset, which puts the customer first in a series of basic actions:

  1. Empathize
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test

Building a Great UX

As always, we speak from experience. Over the years we’ve built a development process that focuses heavily on producing great UX for our partners with a wide range of products. The changes you’ve just read about are based on principles that apply to a wide variety of situations.

In other words, UX is universally a great way to make the world a better place! We hope these ideas help you to make your own custom software development process even better.