Oct 20, 2015

Judge your Software product - Part 1

Because review matters.

A tester will test quality and developer knows the loops. In the end all praise the product build. We packaged and shipped, but its customers who are using it, some are happy, some are unhappy, some are delighted, and some are heavy-hearted. In an anachronous time you might be thinking about why your software product is becoming out of date or why sales are declining. Not only it matters when your are out of market but also when we are on peak. We have seen example of Software companies such as IBM and Microsoft which have kept updated their products and keep on adding new products and also seen success of framework Spring which is constantly improved to accommodate new APIs and simplification. I have seen downfall of struts, how best ORM product Toplink (in my eyes) not being on top, and how rarely Enterprise applications use Java EE. Its my strong belief failure starts when you not doing Customer Analytic up to the mark. Being a software engineer not only means develop based on requirement but also means keeping customer in heart and that means you think like a customer and that also means knowing when you are developing anachronous software.

1. Focus Groups

Earlier focus groups was very popular technique to read customer minds. You bring 8-10 customers in a room and facilitate the discussion in which customers open up about their sentiments towards product.
Those were the days of past, but they are still effective. Now we have market research online communities companies such as Vision critical, C Space, and iTracks)  where we can target 800-1000 people and over a period of time such as 6 months.

2. Surveys & Feedback

Surveys are used by Fortune 500 companies but are still not used by many software firms, especially service based companies. Its useful in gathering customer attitude, satisfaction score, and habits. If you are finding difficulty in conducting survey, then you can take help of sites like Survey Monkey, or do advance Mobile Survey.

Surveys should also include "net promoter score" and judge the health of product.
Not always but sometimes customers are willing to leave a feedback and companies website should have clear link or should contact customer after purchase on feedback.

3. Passive Data

How did a promotion impacted the sales or how the new UI increased site traffic. To answer these questions, we need to collect data and analyse. Web Analytics is a way where we put tags on every page, transaction, and track customer journey and site penetration. If we observe that user left Registration on Step 3 and Step 4, we can infer that user lost interest in registering because of number of steps.

4. Media 

Articles, Blogs, Presentations, Interviews, Magazines, Conferences, and Social Media. These are huge opportunities not only to present and promote our product but also know pros, cons, whats hot, what dull, what they think, what they expect, what are they talking about, what they want, what answers they are looking for, etc.

5. Casual research

I was part of on UI framework product. The framework included approved pages from design teams, Server side integration, accessibility tested, etc. Casual research is about creating two set of UI pages, and let users decide which is more intuitive. Many companies do this such as creating two landing page and each targeted at different set of customers. Casual research will have direct impact on Website and mobile app design.

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