You know your business better than anyone. No outside observer or consultant can be an expert on what you what you do best or what makes your business successful. You are the expert.
But being an expert on your business doesn’t mean you are an expert on everything. So often, it makes sense to get outside eyes on a specific aspect.
At Worthwhile, we bring in consultants to help us with several different functions. They’ve been very helpful as our business as grown. And we’ve also served as consultants to other companies looking to improve the way they use software, or to find ways to create ROI with a software product or software solution.
Let us open your eyes to some of the key areas where companies we know have benefitted from outside eyes looking at software.
When we write something—documents, marketing content, messages, and more—it’s important to get the basics right. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation speak to the quality of writing no matter the topic or use.
The same principles apply when writing code. It’s important to follow best practices of code quality in order to ensure software works as it should over the long haul. This means you need to know whether the code of your software is written well and in accordance with best practices.
This is especially important for custom software such as web apps and mobile apps. You need to know how well it’s written, and how easy or hard it will be to update when the time comes.
Another key here is understanding what percentage of your code is covered by unit tests. This helps you find problems before they impact customers or operations. At Worthwhile, we cover 95% or more of code via unit testing. Assessing your coverage should be a part of any code review you do.
Having rock-solid code is no guarantee that your software will work optimally. That’s because software doesn’t just have to work in a vacuum—it has to work for users. This means the user experience needs to be of top quality.
As with code, there are user experience best practices that you need to follow. For example, be clear, be concise, and make things work quickly. And help users intuitively move through things instead of having to look for instructions. Having an expert review user experience can unveil places where you’re confusing users and inciting frustration. Then you can fix them.
In addition, a user experience expert can help to recommend tips to delight users and make their lives easier. This could be in big-picture areas such as the way a user moves through a website or web application, or it could be something small like improving the way users tab through a form to help them work more quickly. These enhancements can improve efficiency on an internal app and increase conversions in an e-commerce system, so it’s worth finding these opportunities and capitalizing on them.
Even if your website is structured logically and coded perfectly, it won’t work for users without user-centric design. The design should aid users in accomplishing their task or goal on a page, and give them clear visual clues about what’s next and about the progress that has been made.
The design should also load quickly and be easy to maintain and update. It should be consistent with your company’s brand and be consistent across views, so users never feel lost or confused.
Studies show that good design actually increases conversions and employee efficiency. So you shouldn’t leave it to your IT people or your development team. Bring in a UI designer or a graphic artist to suggest improvements.
Connected Device Integrations
Nowadays, software isn’t just on your computers or even your smartphones. There is software on a variety of connected devices that collect data and give users control over their thermostat or lamp or heavy machinery, at the swipe of a finger or tap of a button.
This is an emerging area of technology, and you need experts to help you understand the opportunities that your business has. Bringing in an IoT (Internet of Things) consultant can help you take a quantum step forward.
One important note here: When it comes to putting a connected device to work for your business, it’s important to start small and test. This kind of prototyping will keep your investment reasonable while you determine the scalability of your idea. We have done this with multiple clients. Some are moving forward with profitable ideas; others have decided that the cost of building connected devices threw the ROI equation out of whack. Again, a strong consultative relationship is important here, because your connected device needs to do more than work. It needs to provide a financial benefit for your business.
Once your software is up and running, you’ll want to make sure it is performing at peak efficiency. This is a technical area where small changes in caching or image rendering can make big benefits—if you have a software partner with the expertise to make these changes.
Among the things to monitor are:
* Page load speed
* Crawl errors like 404s and 500s
* Mobile usability
* Server uptime and scalability
In addition, it’s important for you to monitor Google Analytics to keep pace with how your software or website is performing with users. If you don’t know how to do this effectively, find someone to teach you, or access some of Google’s free resources. Expertise in this area will help you identify your strengths so you can accentuate them, and identify your weaknesses so you can work on them.
Every business needs help. That’s not a sign of weakness; it’s simply a reality. So when it comes to software, you need to reach out to cover the gaps in your expertise.
By asking for help, you open the door to happier customers and new revenue streams. That will make your business better.