As a backend developer, it's easy to get lost behind multiple layers of the modern tech stack and focus solely on reading and writing data through the plumbing of software systems. However, it's important to recognize the impact we can have in contributing positively to the user experience. Our goal should not be limited to building functional apps, but to build apps with exceptional user experience that eliminate any kind of toil.
Here are some ways backend developers can help build great user experiences:
🔹 Understand the user journey: Get involved from the early stages of the project to gain a full picture of the problem you're solving. As backend developers, we often dive into UML diagrams or architectural patterns, but flipping our approach can be beneficial. Try designing for the best possible user interactions first and then make the necessary technical tradeoffs to achieve them. Placing the user at the heart of architecture design ensures a user-centric approach.
🔹 Performance tradeoffs: Performance is crucial for a seamless user experience. Users expect fast and responsive applications. However, it's not always just about speed. Users are willing to wait an extra second if the app delivers value. Understanding when and where to optimize matters a lot. For instance, leveraging techniques like cursor pagination can reduce the load on database servers. Cursors act as pointers to data in the database, allowing relevant records to be selected without fetching all previous records, which can significantly improve performance. However, it's important to balance performance gains with other user-friendly features like the ability to jump to a specific page.
🔹 Strive for better developer experience: Enhancing the developer experience may not seem intuitive, but it directly impacts the user experience. By removing toil from the development process, such as having a great CI/CD setup or an excellent local environment, we free ourselves to focus on crucial aspects of the app. Imagine dealing with a flaky development environment daily—our creativity would drain before we even start thinking about the user experience. Tools and processes that enable toil-free development allow us to iterate faster and respond to user feedback effectively.
> Let's remember that as backend developers, we have the power to shape the user experience. By understanding the user journey, making performance tradeoffs wisely, and prioritizing a seamless developer experience, we can contribute to building exceptional apps that delight users and stand out in today's competitive landscape.