Imagine you’re in a foreign country and need to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you. Sure you could get by with your knowledge of a few basic phrases, but wouldn’t things be so much easier if you knew how to effectively communicate with the other person?
Much like understanding a foreign language when traveling, it is important for developers to be well versed in UX. It has been my experience that most developers generally do care about UX, however I’ve learned this isn’t always the case.
Why developers don’t care
Generally, if developers don’t seem to care about UX, it can stem from a lack of information and exposure to the breadth of things impacted by UX, and how that can in turn impact the developers themselves. It’s not that they don’t care about a user, they just haven’t had a reason to include consideration of the user in their workflow.
The developers may not have been as involved in the design and planning for the user experience and therefore view their job as coding the functionality as quickly and efficiently as possible without worrying about the flow. You’ll find that a developer typically is more focused on the guts and gears of a website or app, digging into the raw code, while the designer focuses more on the look, feel and overall user experience. In the end though, both roles have (or should have) a similar goal – a sleek final product that not only accomplishes the goal of the user, but actually delights them in using it.
Due to potential pressure from stakeholders wanting something as fast as possible, it can also be a goal for the developer to find the fastest way to complete a product, rather than the best experience for the user. They may be more focused on simply making sure something works.
It benefits more than just the user
So why should developers care about UX? Good UX isn’t just a benefit to the end user. A product with good UX reflects on the company that produced it and the developer who built it. Ultimately, good UX benefits the developer, the team, the company they work with or for, and the end user. So it’s a win-win (or a win-win-win-win).
It will allow for a better product
Being able to understand and promote good user experiences will help you end up with a better product. It encourages thinking with a more outward mindset. A key component of UX is empathy, or being able to understand how the user thinks. By empathizing with how people will use what you’re building, you’ll discover that people think in ways you hadn’t imagined before. This will allow for the best understanding of what kind of experience is needed for your product, thus allowing you to create a better product for your user.
It will promote teamwork
It also helps to strengthen the team of people you work with. When the UX and development teams work together and understand where each other is coming from, with a shared ultimate goal in mind, it promotes open communication and teamwork. New ideas, improved ways of thinking, lightbulb moments of clarity – these all come from collaborative teams. On the flip side, if there isn’t good communication back and forth between the UX and development teams, you can wind up with a product that works, but frustrates the client or user. This will lead to a weak final product, a disconnected team and additional costs due to more time spent on revisions.
As can often be the case with motivation, motivating developers to care about UX is about WIFM, or “What’s In It For Me?” Show developers how being conscious of the user’s needs will ultimately benefit them. In order to help motivate developers to care about UX, it’s very important to include them in discussions about design and UX as it helps to build strong relationship with UX designers, as well as an understanding and appreciation for the need for good UX. It also helps to strengthen the team by encouraging a collaborative environment.
Developers should feel welcome to provide valuable feedback about how to accomplish something. They should also be comfortable introducing new ideas for UX patterns to help improve the overall intuitiveness of a product. They may catch something or offer a different point of view.
Encouraging and motivating the developer to care about UX is similar to answering why developers should care about UX. Ultimately, it benefits the product, the end user, the developer and the company.