2018 is the year of the user

November 20, 2017

2018 is the year of the user

We don't read manuals anymore. The products need to learn how to use the user, not the other way around.

As 2018 hurtles towards us, many luminaries and visionaries are offering their view of the biggest technology-related trends that will rear their head in the coming year. From the ongoing debate around autonomous cars and when robots will take over the world many claims have been made. However, one important trend that’s flying under the radar is the rise of user-driven product development.

In years gone, by it was up to the user to understand and learn how to use new technology-related products. Think back to your first smart phone, MS Office, or if you’re old enough, a Walkman—there were no shortcuts and you had to invest time to understand exactly how the product worked so you could maximize its performance. This was especially true with traditional software products like Saleforce and Excel. It was up to you to learn the terminology, the forms, the workflow logic, and in some cases even receive specialized training.

However, with the explosion of conversational systems that are showcased in products like Google Home and Amazon Echo, this concept has been turned on its head. It’s now the responsibility of the product to learn the user. This is actually a far more dramatic shift than simply putting a voice front-end on information services.

The IoT has been the catalyst driving the change in how people interact with software. This seismic shift also puts the final nail in the coffin of code-based testing. As the way we interact with software has been transformed, it’s time to rethink how we test and monitor software. 2018 needs to be the year when businesses put the user experience in the driving seat.

These new conversational systems mean that products need to be tested from the user’s perspective. Simply testing the code doesn’t provide the information to evaluate if the product is working in the way the user thinks it should work. As a result, we need to reassess how we test and monitor in a digital world.

It’s essential to test and monitor conversational systems, as a user would experience them to ensure that it meets their expectations. If businesses don’t take this approach, then sales will also not live up to the hype. Every business in the digital world needs to ensure that it’s evaluating products from the user experience. It should be a New Year's resolution that they stick to in 2018 if they want to thrive in our digital world!

Antony Edwards is the CTO of Testplant.