A People-First Approach: The Future of Enterprise App Development
As digital now becomes firmly embedded in every business as an integral part of strategy, it is a focus on people that will ultimately underpin success. With approximately 5 million apps available in the major app stores, the highly competitive nature of the app market makes the ‘build it and they will come’ a risky motto to live by.
According to the Accenture Technology Vision Survey, the new mantra for digital strategy is people first. Competition is fierce, and a people-first approach to app development is now considered the future of app success.
In an age where the focus is locked on technology, the true leaders will, in fact, place people first – Accenture, 2016
Previously, the people-first approach has been used for building efficient organisational structures. However, forward-thinking businesses are changing the way they build apps, shifting focus to creating highly personalised and positive user experiences. Industry leaders are putting their customers first, placing them at the centre of their app development strategy.
The Delivery Funnel
When building great enterprise apps, success relies more on the process and less on the product. The app development process often resembles that of the delivery funnel; an approach that is structured where each team works independently and collaboration is limited.
Consequently, this fragmented funnel results in prolonged delivery cycles, an unvalidated product, and sacrificed profits. For example, marketing and sales teams are often only involved after development is complete. This means that customer validation and market research is never used to guide the app’s development. As a result, it is the customer who ultimately pays the price.
Implementing a people-first approach enables you to transform your delivery funnel into a delivery chain. Leveraging this approach encourages and engages every team member throughout the development process. With a delivery chain, each team is interconnected and augmented through a collaborative process and the customer is at the core.
This approach is described as having less to do with the process and more to do with the organisation’s attitude as a whole. A delivery chain helps reduce team workload, strengthen communication, increase accountability and produce a superior product.
Traditional vs. People-First Approach
It can be tempting to start with a new app idea and run with it, however, the most successful apps are designed with the end users in mind. The fundamentals of which start with understanding people-first, and developing real-world solutions that respond to their needs.
The people-first approach involves consideration of the customers at every stage of app development. It follows the concept that everyone in the delivery chain ultimately reports to the customer.
In a people-first approach, the crucial question to ask is: would this provide value to the customer? If you design an app your customers will love then revenue, downloads and loyalty will follow.
When implementing a people-first approach to app development, take into consideration the following points.
#1 Identify the feeling
It is important to understand your users and identify the emotions you are designing for. Ask questions like:
How do people feel before they open the app?
How do they feel after?
What is my user’s state of mind?
Once you have identified the feeling, you can identify the release and where your app fits in. Determining how your users feel when they open your app will help you understand and design an app your users will use.
#2 Consider the context
When and where are users using your app? The context around app usage can impact how users use and feel about your app. For example, if users are using your app in a rushed and urgent manner then it is important to design an app that is streamlined and reduces cognitive load. Embrace this knowledge about user context in your design process to ensure you develop an app that will be used.
#3 Understand motivations
It is important to understand your user’s motivations and how they are prioritised. Understand the problem users are trying to solve and how hard they perceive this task to be. The value of your app to users depends on their task success and feelings around achieving that task. Answer the question: Apart from the task, what is my user’s happiness dependent upon? Understanding what your users’ happiness depends on can help you can identify opportunities to not only meet but exceed their expectations.
#4 Know your user’s values
Understand who your users are as people and how their history, background, and life environment have informed them over time. This will help you determine how your users understand, relate to and adopt your app. Ask questions like: Where is my user coming from? Collecting basic demographic information as well as specific details about your user’s life experiences (i.e. taste in music) that is relevant to your app will help you find trends in the types of users your app resonates with.
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A people-first approach to app development can improve process efficiency and ensure your app’s success in the market whilst ultimately enhancing user experience.
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