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The Joy of Bringing the User's Voice to Software Design

By Rich Sheridan, December 6, 2017

Menlo Innovations is unique for a number of reasons, but our High-Tech Anthropology® practice probably falls into the category of “most special.” It is our High-Tech Anthropologists® who first coined our mission “to end human suffering in the world as it relates to technology™.”

We fundamentally believe that there can and should be joy in software design and development. How does joy manifest itself for a software team? Beyond great collaboration, a fun work environment, and team members you enjoy working with, there is one over-arching characteristic that defines joy: thrilling the end users of the software we design and build. For us, it is our High-Tech Anthropologists® who bring the voice of these users to our projects. Building software is hard work. Yet, for our team, we know through actual user interactions and real-world feedback that our hard work is improving the lives of others, and this is our greatest source of satisfaction. I believe this is true throughout our industry.

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A couple of years ago I got to feel this joy up close and personal. I was doing some work around the house and found myself in the Ace Hardware parking lot loading bags of topsoil into my SUV. I had to block in another car to ease the loading process and, as luck would have it, the owner of that car showed up at just the wrong time. I apologized and said I’d be finished in a couple of minutes. Instead of seeming annoyed, he instead pointed to my shirt, one from a top customer of ours, Accuri Cytometers. He smiled and said, “I use that product every day!” I commented that my company built the software that goes with the product he uses. “I love that software. You guys did a great job!” he exclaimed.

I was reminded in that moment of the joy produced by great design.

I made sure to share that story at Monday’s daily stand-up. Everyone smiled. We’ve known for years that we did a good job, maybe even a great job, on designing and building the CFlow software for Accuri Cytometers. But in that moment, we were smiling because we remembered the reason we come in to work and find joy every day: the delight of the end user.