“If we want users to like our software, we should design it to behave like a likable person: respectful, generous, and helpful” — Alan Cooper (Software Designer and Programmer)
This story started around 2017 when I was an intern for a small startup company. The office is located in the heart of the city, so I went by bus every morning. I used to google some articles to accompany me during the trip to-and-from the office.
As a junior front-end developer and very eager to learn at that time, I searched for articles that could ramp up my knowledge. One time I googled “What are the things to do to become a frontend developer”. Most of the articles emphasize learning
webpack. You know… technical stuff. But there is one article which not talk about tech stuff at all and it told me the most necessary — a must-have trait that every frontend engineer needs to have, and that is empathy.
Frontend developers are the ones who make the software that will be used by users. Nowadays, front-end developers are making websites you visit and mobile apps for you to install.
In other words: they make an application that interacts directly with real people. They work closely with designers who provide ’em with the design that they need to implement. So why is having empathy important?
For an application to improve, the developers have to always bring changes to the software. Or in today’s world — an update. Whether it’s a new feature, fixing issues, or performance improvement. All that is for the sake of giving users the best experience when they’re using our app.
To do this, front-end developers need to position themselves “as” the user. They need to feel what the users feel, so they can identify pain points and find room for improvement. They need to empathize with the users.
By doing this, there might come an idea of a new feature, design revamp, or maybe performance improvement. Those things will lead to a better app and make your app stand out more than the other apps.
There is no such thing as a final product for front-end developers. There is always a major upgrade that can be shipped to your applications. No matter how small the update is.
If it’s worked, does not mean it’s great. Even though the app is finished and working perfectly, that does not mean you can just sit around and do nothing. I can just simply build a calculator app without having to bother with the aesthetic part. It is working perfectly, but would the users come back and use your app again? What if they found a better app that makes their eyes glow up when they see it? Instead of making ‘em cry coz it’s so ugly 😢 I mean... look at this calculator app 👇
If it’s worked perfectly, does not mean users need it. Sometimes front-end developers and designers get caught up in creating an outstanding design with all its complex features and technology behind it. Yet in reality… the users don’t really need it. To know what the users need, to feel what the users feel — is to be empathetic, and be the users. Sometimes, a sophisticated design doesn’t give users the best experience. This article explains it best regarding this topic.
What did you say? How are we able to empathize with the users you asked? Yes… that’s right! I can hear your thoughts 😎
It’s very simple actually. Use your app! Feel what the users feel. Experience every page transition, and every existing motion, and see every color. Nothing beats the feeling of trying your own creation. Then ask yourself this question:
- Have my problems as a user already been solved by this app?
- If it is, is it already the best solution for the problem? 3. Is there any better solution that gives users a better experience?
- Am I enjoying using this app?
- What parts need to be improved so I can enjoy it more?
Be empathetic. Be THE user. Always strive for more. By doing so, you can call yourself a true front-end developer.
Hope you enjoy reading the story!
Cheers 🍻 — Ferzos