No App Is An Island

No app is an island entire of itself; every app
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main

(Apologies to John Donne)

It’s very easy to be so focussed (either as a developer/team/department) on a single app/website/etc. that its place in the “continent” can be forgotten. This is not really a fault of the individual developer/team, rather more an organization problem.

Take the example of a bank’s mobile app in the app store. The journey of a person and the app is much bigger than just using the app itself. How did the person hear about the app in the first place and how did they find it in the app store (just by searching or did the bank have a poster with a QR code on it?), do they log into the app with existing Internet banking details (and if so how did they set up their account – on the banks website?), what happens when they close their accounts or want to uninstall the app? What happens if there is a problem with the app and they phone the call centre? If a new version of the app is released that doesn’t work will that cause an influx of calls to the call centre, overloading its capacity and potentially missing out on sales opportunities from other calls?

At a more technical level, what APIs does the app call into, do those APIs in turn interface with other systems (e.g. a banking mainframe). If the mainframe errors what effect does that have on the API and thus the app and the person using the app?

If a customer has a problem with the app and goes into a bank for help, are the customer service representatives there able to help? If not do they have a “hotline” number to  get straight through to IT/specialist app support personnel?

As developers we are also all consumers of software, sometimes this gives us more patience – sometimes less – when things are designed badly or don’t work.

If as software developers we get frustrated what is the “normal” person using software feeling?

Perhaps it’s time that every sufficiently large company had a dedicated user experience team that is intimately familiar with the entire “continent”/user journey. These “UX user champions” can then be part of development teams to ensure that indeed, no app is an island.


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