Nov 1, 2023
5 min read
Last updated Nov 9, 2023
Software product is usually seen as a solution to some real-world problem. If we think of it generally, it’s the code logic present in a product that helps do something that benefits the end-user. This is not a wrong definition of software but the real question to be answered is “Is the code logic written and presented in the form of a product that solves a problem in a great way?”
If we see a solution from the perspective of an end-user having a great experience using it, this is what makes a solution great. Another trait of a great product it must solve a problem in the best possible way.
A better version of an existing product may not be enough to make a product great. The product should indeed present the solution reflecting to understand the needs of the end user in a much deeper manner.
To be more precise, the people who build the product must understand the problem much better than the users themselves. It’s only after the product has been launched that the users see that their needs are being taken care of in ways that could not have even imagined.
How can this be achieved? The short answer to this mostly relies on the person or people who are leading the projects or the founders. It might sound a bit off the track but apart from a great team that develops the product, it’s their vision that leads the team to success.
A software product development company is like an ecosystem. There must be a balance of everything while a product is being developed to make it great. Some things might even be more important than others and that needs to be identified to work upon.
Let us see the process and thinking that helps to make a product great. Linearloop has been developing products for more than a decade now and worked on products across various domains and industries.
Working across different domains has helped us shape our thinking to understand the intricacies involved in making great software products.
Additionally, the process that goes into making great software can only be understood by working on real-world solutions that are great in all aspects. As company founders, there is no better way to know this than by putting ourselves in the shoes of product owners.
This post reflects on the challenges, pain points, and things to consider while developing software to provide great software solutions.
Here is an overview of the post to help to understand its structure at a glance:
Let’s get started.
Products need to be made in such a way that not only lives up to the expectations of the product owners and the end users but also creates opportunities that may not be obvious at first.
Research is undeniably the most important part of developing great products. However, the ways to use research data can be a deciding factor in determining the fate of a product. Relying solely on other’s marketing research can undoubtedly provide insights but this may create a false sense of belief about users’ expectations.
The problem with just using others’ research is that it might not represent the pain points or needs of the group of people that your product might be targeted to. Although the problem may seem very general it’s actually not.
Another important thing to note is that the past or existing data only shows the trends that are available and forecasts that are made as per them. The real value is in getting hold is what is to come or will be required before others and better than others. This helps in addressing and taking care of the needs of the present as well as the future.
Let’s consider music streaming services in the context of software products. Most of them are made in more or less the same way and offer similar services.
John Nash's game theory is a great analogy to this situation. He was an American mathematician and his theory applies to many areas of economics, logic, computer science, and systems science. It states the concept of equilibrium for non-cooperative games or the concept of equilibrium among rational agents for making strategic decisions.
For our purposes, if there are two businesses or two music streaming companies (in our example) competing in the same field and providing similar content then there is no reward in that for either of them.
If one chooses an alternate strategy, the other copies it. Thus there is no clear reward for either, hence, they are at equilibrium and they continue running their business with almost the same number of users with similar outcomes.
On the other hand, if a music streaming company decides to take a different angle while developing a streaming app that may differentiate it from others by offering something fresh, this can become a game-changer.
If we take the example of the largest democracy and the most populated country in the world, i.e., Bharat or India, there are so many languages spoken and heard across the country. If the streaming company decides to launch regional music on its application based on the geographical diversity of audiences, this might make it the market leader.
Although there were other players in the market with many years under their built offering similar services, this one company shined with a solution that created opportunity in a saturated space by offering a specific and different solution. It also reflects that their better understanding of the problem at hand based on geographical diversity helped them make a great product.
So, the Nash Equilibrium might very well not apply here since the strategy is not an alternate one, but it’s actually very different from the usual ones. This logic can be applied to all products and will incur the same results for the most part.
A definite advantage is to understand user behaviors and audience and come up with a solution that you understand is needed. It's very much possible that even the users are not sure what to expect that would wow them until you come up with a great product that blows their minds.
Building great products requires a lot of brainstorming and out-of-the-box thinking for the most part. User behavior and feedback are very crucial components of it. This not only helps to get a better understanding of the problem but also helps to devise methodologies that can help engineer the right product.
The first step in building a great software product is to define the problem that you are trying to solve and the solution that you are offering. The product vision should answer the following questions:
Doing one’s research certainly to answer these questions before engineering a product is a great task but the rewards are even greater. There are some battle-tested approaches for it which are mostly based on the user’s perspective and provide a great guide to creating the correct approach while developing a product. These come under the umbrella of user research.
But there’s a catch.
These approaches work well in most situations, but modifying them a bit can be a differentiating factor.
The Usual Approach
The Better Approach
The next step to building great products after deciding on the approach is to go use best practices and methods. Some well-known best practices that contribute to a product include great UI/UX flows, user interface, usability, using feedback for continuous improvement, and easy product support.
The list here is not exhaustive but the fact that they are known to most development teams makes them very obvious to keep on track.
But some others may be usually ignored. They are equally important and must be kept in check. Let’s look at them together.
Deciding on What Technologies to Use
This is one of the biggest dilemmas while developing software. With endless technologies to choose from it's difficult to select the ones that best suit the purpose. Comparing the pros and cons is also very difficult since it is almost impossible to predict the challenges that could come up at later stages. This decision has to be made wisely.
The Latest Tech May Not Be The Best (and vice versa)
Using the latest technology available may not always be the best decision. Yes, it’s tempting and there are obvious advantages to it but the expectations must be kept in check for the same based on experience and a good understanding of advantages and drawbacks. For example, if a technology is great to use but lacks clear documentation or community support, it may become an issue to use it with complete confidence. This is a well-known drawback of the new technologies being launched at cut-throat speeds.
Writing Readable Code
The product needs to be developed with code that can be easily read and understood. Since the development usually includes many team members with different skills and ways to develop a product. This can make the code readable to some but might be unreadable to others. Following standard practices helps in bridging the gaps. It also helps to keep the product code maintainable if new team members join a project.
Separation of Concerns
Product code must be modular. The software has to be built in a scalable way that can also be maintained with minimal complexities. This can be achieved by developing the product in a framework-like structure. For example, if there are modules or smaller and independent units of code for different features in an application, this helps to keep the logic separate for different features.
Writing Reusable Code
Modern applications are getting out of hand in terms of code lines. Thanks to pre-built and battle-tested frameworks available to use that can help develop applications similar to creating a complex product using Lego bricks type architecture. This pushes us to write reusable code. For example, a calculation might be used at multiple places in a product. This logic can be written as separate modules and can be used again and again when required in various places hence keeping the code DRY (do not repeat yourself).
The Abstraction Layer
A great product must find ways to provide functionalities that can be easily used. This is achieved by hiding the complexities from the users to present the solution elegantly so that there is no confusion at all. This is an important ingredient in providing a great user experience.
Testing is one of the key ways to make sure that your product has minimal issues while being used in the real world. With agile workflows being one of the standard ways used in development, testing can be included since the early stages of development itself. The rising complexities in modern products make them prone to so many errors. You do not want your product to be unreliable.
A product needs to have a true source of information. This can be addressed by creating clear documentation for the same. It helps in describing the purpose, functionalities, and capabilities of a product. This also helps the users to understand the things that a product can and cannot do.
The world is full of challenges that need creative solutions. We believe that the best way to learn how to solve them is by doing, not just reading. That’s why we use technology for software product development that matters and share our insights with you.
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