On the importance of receiving outside feedback

Last week I went to Paris to visit my family. My dad has always been pretty interested in technology. I have childhood memories of him spending weekends trying to install whatever operating system on his computer, at a time YouTube tutorials and Stack Overflow were probably not as rich in content as today. If he does not know specifically how to develop an application, he has more than enough knowledge to understand to concepts and content of my portfolio projects.

Since we often talk about how things are going with my lessons, labs and projects, we sat down together and I showed him my Farmers Markets CLI, my very first project. I explained the general idea, we went through the whole structure of my gem and through the different classes it is using. So far so good.

Then, I launched the application and let my dad follow the instructions and play around. After just a couple of minutes his attention was caught by a feature he found annoying and user unfriendly. The workflow around my app is the following: after the user is given the information they are after, they are asked whether they would like to continue browsing the application or if they would like to leave the application, question they should answer by ‘continue’ or ‘leave’.

My laptop has an QWERTY keyboard, the norm in France is an AZERTY keyboard. Being so used to how letters are organised on an AZERTY keyboard, my dad made the same spelling mistake twice and started to get annoyed with this ‘continue’ command. After speaking about it we came to the conclusion that the shorter the command the better and that the easiest way to be user friendly to the largest number was to set question as straightforward as possible and that should be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

After this non-technical review of my app I came to the conclusion that it is always a good idea to have whatever product you develop be reviewed by someone that is not involved in its conception so that the feedback you receive is not altered by what you think user will see, feel or do.

N.B. This article was initially published on January 18, 2019

Software Developer — yogi, swimmer, cyclist, gardener and scuba diver

Software Developer — yogi, swimmer, cyclist, gardener and scuba diver