A Developer Wears Many Hats

Being a developer means more than just coding. It’s also about anticipating how users will expect your app to work.

I recently downloaded an app for my niece that I was unable to use. I kept thinking it never loaded completely as I pixel hunted and nothing happened. After a visit to the FAQ section of the app’s webpage, I found out I was supposed to outline a square on the screen with my finger in order to access the rest of the app.

I don’t consider this good UX. Perhaps some users found out about this app from another source and were aware of this access “code,” but as somebody who randomly found it in the AppStore, I had no way of knowing this step was necessary. I never would have guessed it on my own, so they were really limiting their audience to people with an insider’s knowledge.

There are so many possible ways to create a great interface with apps, and I recently came across a recipe app, Gilt Taste, that was a great example. Many companies have tried to think of ways to allow users to view recipes via their iPad- I’ve seen external casings, apps listen to voice commands, and more. Cooking can be loud in itself, so a sound-activated app might have some problems. The app I discovered uses kinetic tracking via the camera. The user waves his/her hand from right to left for next page and from left to right for previous page. Overall it’s a great UX- and as an added bonus, it makes me feel like a Jedi.

It’s important that developers read people’s suggestions and reviews, even for the apps of other companies. This is, after all, about making a product that is as easy to use as it is useful. When I test interfaces, I think about what I expected to happen when I click a particular button or image, and how I interact with the app as a whole. Being a good developer is not just about knowing how to code, it’s also about thinking up the best interface for the end user.

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