User feedback throughout the development process = better software

Published Nov 10, 2022, 8:30 AM
Written by Kandice Stern

Not only *can* we include user feedback during the software development process – we *should*. Keeping users, particularly users with specific needs, at the centre of our work improves everything we make.

For too long tech has put the needs of people with temporary or permanent impairments last in terms of priority and included their needs as an afterthought.

A turning point in my career occurred when I went to a human-centred design workshop while I was studying for my Bachelor in Business Information and Technology. While I’d been taught in my course that UX and UI were important, this workshop brought it all down to why human-centred design was important. And not only why it was important, but when and how to use the feedback you get from all kinds of users to improve your software. 

I don’t know what my career would look like if I hadn’t gone to that workshop.

The part that stuck with me the most was the specific, deliberate practice of getting feedback from users as often as possible and making modifications, so software is improved iteratively. 

I hadn’t considered that you could get user feedback in the middle of a development process and that you should do that.

Human-centred design means we keep humans at the centre of the whole process – we include people.

In terms of creating inclusive websites this looks like prototyping, showing users what we’ve made, getting feedback, then continuing to develop the prototype until it meets the user requirements. 

There’s still a strong feeling in some parts of the software industry that it’s both expensive and unnecessary to get user feedback and use human-centred design practices (including rapid prototyping and user research), especially once a project has reached the development stage.

However, using human-centred design not only works, but it gives a far superior result. It fits smoothly with our Agile methods we use at Symbiote, since it’s cyclical and iterative. 

I see my job as a software developer to focus primarily on the people who’ll be using it, and all the ways they might use it. 

Historically, people have had to adapt to technology. I think it’s time technology adapted to all the different kinds of people who use it in different ways. It makes good design sense.