Since writing the code for the unique features of a software product takes the longest, it's the step most developers put the majority of their focus on. However, starting with the user interface (UI) of your software makes a lot more sense in today's world. Find out how taking extra care to build your UI makes it easier to market your product in five different ways.
It's the Product to the User
For you, the product is the endless lines of code you're using to solve a specific problem or create an action. To the end user, the UI is what they interact with and control the software through, so naturally it's what they think of when they hear the name of your product. A poor quality UI translates into a bad product when the users have little to no contact or understanding of all the code working together harmoniously under the surface. When your interface looks straight out of the 1990s, it's hard to believe that the code underneath is cutting edge unless you're already familiar with software development.
UI Requires Extensive Testing
You're familiar with testing code in a sandbox environment, but testing UI designs require the help of real potential users. A/B comparisons, bug chasing, and integrating feedback can take months if you're doing it correctly. Getting all this work out of the way before you start dipping into the grind of coding the software means you're practically ready to deliver once that step is over, instead of facing another year or two of UI polishing. You're also less likely to skip crucial testing steps when you're not so pressed for time due to deadlines.
The User Isn't You
You know exactly what the software does and how to make it do what you want -- but the user isn't you. Since the user can only control and troubleshoot the product through the UI in most cases, you need people unaware of the software to point out the real flaws in the system. Writing documentation for all those unique UI features should happen as the design develops so that important details aren't forgotten in the months and years between development and release.
Prototypes Take Effort to Change
You need prototypes to play around with and test on when designing a UI or the software powering it, but it's a common fact that the little glitches and lazy mistakes made with rapid prototypes have a way of sneaking into the final release. This means you need to spend more time on those prototypes instead of rushing through them and assuming you'll fix the problems later. UI prototyping eats up a lot of time with steps like
- Paper models to get the basic building blocks arranged without the temptation to start coding them to work prematurely
- Non-development models made in other software, with some limited functionality for early testing without losing focus
- Final development prototypes ready to test with the coding to see how the two parts actually fit together into one package.
UI Changes Rewrite Major Requirements
Finally, don't forget that one tiny tweak to the user login apparatus or the toolbar resizing function could result in big changes in the code. You don't want to get stuck rewriting a big section of the software for last minute UI changes when your release deadline is looming.
Most software developers are rightfully focused on revolutionizing the features of the product, but just a great UI could be enough to set you apart from the competition. At the very least, a bad UI will prevent customers from properly using the product, and no amount of good marketing can save you from that problem. For more information about UI software development, check out a company like Compusmart Solutions.