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Early and Often User Feedback Fuels Software Success

Nick Nystrom
8/19/19 5:30 PM

User feedback early and often. I keep hearing that over and over in my head during every stage of the software development life cycle (SDLC).

After attending Convey UX earlier this year, my biggest takeaway was the practice of getting user feedback early and often. Here at Kingland, we actively promote this 'early and often' philosophy. This can be a challenging task especially in the enterprise software space. Many times our client solution teams are gathering requirements and design specifications from stakeholders who are not the end users.

Remember, stakeholders are not designers, but they do have a valuable perspective. Delayed user feedback can become problematic for a number of reasons, especially if the users of the solution don't get access until the User Acceptance Testing phase. By this time in the SDLC, the development teams will require more time to make any changes in the user experience, delaying schedules. Working on this feedback early and often with the end user group will ensure client solution delivery dates are met.

The Goal of User Feedback

Getting feedback can mitigate risk by addressing issues early in the development process. Closing the feedback loop between users and the development team can ensure the product is aligned with client requirements. If technology changes along the way, we can adapt with it. If our stakeholders change along the way, we work with new stakeholders to ensure that we are still aligned during development. Another positive thing about addressing feedback early and often is a boost in quality. Our teams can work to ensure that they are building everything appropriately and testing often to verify that all parts integrate well. 

Feedback can can come in a number of different mediums at different stages of the SDLC. Most recently, a few of our solutions have been reviewed by our clients' UI/UX teams within their organizations. Their findings are then presented to Kingland in formal UI/UX reports. When conducting UI/UX testing for these reports, our clients typically leverage a heuristic technique. This approach to problem solving or self-discovery employs a practical method, not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, logical, or rational, but instead sufficient for reaching an immediate goal. This goal is to provide feedback around the UI/UX of our solutions with the mindset of creating a better user experience for our clients and their end users. Our solution teams address these items one by one with attention to detail, ensuring the user experience with the software meets end user and stakeholder expectations. 

How Kingland Uses Feedback

Our product and solution teams at Kingland have developed a secure, internal repository to keep our client feedback organized. This system helps to align the product and solution development teams with the feedback from clients. This overall ecosystem also allows for proper elaboration and discussion on the findings, and it subsequently allows for quicker improvements to the solution. As our product and solution teams start to look at what updates or changes to make, this is a great time to ask the following questions:

  • What's a quick fix that would be an immediate win with the clients?
  • What feedback is coming up time and time again?
  • What improvements can be made to increase the long-term value of the solution?

Being able to equate this kind of feedback with improvements that help the company's bottom line is one of the key ways to prove the value of this ecosystem at Kingland. 

Overcoming Legacy Challenges

Legacy systems are still used because they work and replacing them is a big challenge. Some of these systems have been in place for decades. Legacy system users have a sense of accomplished mastery and a new solution could jeopardize this. Disrupting the user base by changing the way they complete their work can be detrimental. By focusing our efforts on the legacy system's merits, we look to combine merits of the old systems with those of newer systems to create a new solution. This will ensure a smooth transition into the new solution and decrease the risk of delayed output or efficiency that could otherwise result from changing the way the user performs work. Overall, this holistically relates to the usability of a solution. We strive to ensure our designs are efficient, effective, engaging, easy to learn and error tolerant. This is a necessary requirement of any solution if you want your users to succeed. 

Finishing out 2019 and going into 2020, we will be actively looking to increase our user feedback early and often. This could require some additional elaboration sessions with the user base of a given solution, but it should help to greatly increase the usability and user experience of any Kingland client solution.

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