On Building Friendly Software

As an industry, we talk quite a bit about the art and science of building good software. Concepts like responsive design, patterns and frameworks are all key building blocks, but, at HiringThing we feel like something is missing from the discussion. How do you quantify the way users feel about your software?

Along those lines, we’ve identified the attribute of friendliness as key to our product strategy at HiringThing. Plenty of software is technically capable, reliable, fast and extensible, yet still falls flat when an end user sits down to use that software. Our goal is to make sure that our software is not only technically capable, but also engages, informs and delights our users.

So how do we do that? We’ve come up with a few key points that help guide our direction.

Key Aspects of Friendly Software

  • Friendly software has a voice . Voice is a tricky concept, and professional copywriters spend as much time perfecting the ability to create a voice as programmers debate framework choice. Pro tip: have a copywriter! Your software’s voice needs to permeate throughout, from help docs to interface messages. For example, if someone fills out a form with bad data, do you say “Validation Failed.”, or do you say “Oops! It looks like your email address is incorrect. Please try again.”
  • Friendly software is self-explanatory and invites you to use it . Too many software interfaces assume that their users will read the manual and/or invest time in learning how the software works. That’s true for some kinds of software (especially where the user’s job security is at risk if they don’t learn), but for more elective use, users need to be coaxed through the experience, taught how to use your software step-by-step, and encouraged as they make progress.
  • Friendly software makes it easy to get help . There’s been a trend in online software over the last few years to make it difficult for users to get help. The idea is that a business can reduce spending on customer support by forcing customers to search online FAQ s and documentation for a solution. We soundly reject that idea – we want our customers to talk to us. As much as they want. We’ve made access to information – be it via phone, web or email – easy for anywhere in our application.
  • Friendly software is intuitive and visually appealing . Great user interface design is critical to how your users perceive your solution, and too many companies don’t spend enough time on it. Thoughtful interface design must be a priority during the build process. If your programmers are routinely making major interface decisions as they add features, you should re-evaluate your approach. Getting designers and business analysts involved may take longer, but you’ll end up with a much better solution.

Since we started using friendliness as a benchmark for our efforts, nearly every day we identify ways that we can make our software friendlier, and we can see with each improvement that our customers appreciate the direction. The need to make our software fast, reliable and extensible still exists, but the market is talking and we’re listening – friendliness pays off.

Author: HiringThing

HiringThing is easy to use, intuitive online recruiting software that makes it easy to post jobs online, manage applicants and hire great employees.