Apr 21

Seven Keys to Building Great Software Projects

Continuing in our series of ‘We read marketing collateral so you don’t have to’, I present to you ‘Seven Keys to Building Great Software Projects’ by the Menlo Institute.

Here are the seven keys:

  • Use a user-focused team to design your products
  • Actively observe real users
  • Conduct (user) interviews in phases
  • Create highly specific personas
  • Categorize scenarios as ‘daily’, ‘necessary’ and ‘edge case’
  • Storyboard the user interface
  • Perform cognitive walkthroughs

As you can see, Menlo Innovation’s primary theme is ‘user, user, user’, which makes sense given they way they describe what they do as High-tech Anthropology.

None of these are troublesome – I don’t put as much weight on personas, but we do try to do the rest.  The last one is probably needs more explanation – essentially you – as a developer/product manager/whatever will be well served by trying to “think like the customer” and view the product as if you were the customer using it.   Does the design work for that customer?  If not, you have more work to do.

The author feels that #1 is the most of the keys – the one that carries the rest.   And in general, I agree – without a team that thinks a happy, productive user is job #1 will usually be able to come up with a good result, whether they follow the other practices or not.
Overall – it’s fairly dry, but if you have questions or want more information, visit the Menlo Innovations website and check it out.  I’m not exactly sure where it is on their website, I think you have to sign up as an email subscriber, but they haven’t spammed me yet.

Rating:  B+

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