I’ve been a software developer for most of my career and in many cases I’ve been worked on small teams or independently on a project, and many times working directly with my users. I wear many hats, some official, many times unofficial: project manager, business analyst, help desk, graphic designer, and yes, even programmer.
A software developer’s view of “Users First!”
For me the idea of ‘Users first!’ means simply that: putting the user first in the job you are doing.
On various software projects, I’ve worked on both small teams and large teams, and also independently. Whether it’s just me or a 20 person team, the same fact holds true, we have to deliver to them the best solution possible that meets their needs.
It means going the extra mile for them when necessary. I’ve spent many late nights troubleshooting a problem, driving out to their location to install or fix something, or be on the phone discussing details of a certain feature.
One particular experience comes to mind. I had a project that was a few years old and well into maintenance mode. It required a lot of hand-holding, especially at the end of the year, during their busy period (the department was a fellowship program with an application period that ended on December 31). Well, as it turned out, there was a major problem during the Christmas-New Years recess, and the users contacted me for help. In addition, my wife and I had just brought home our third child a few days before (he was born on Christmas Day). I think they afraid to ask me for help at the time but since I was most familiar with the issue I agreed to help, in between bottles and diapers. I was able to solve their problem in a few hours and everyone was happy, even my son, Nick, who is now 8 years old. The users were back up and running and as a thank-you, sent my wife some very nice flowers!
In the end, a satisfied user is what really matters. If I were to give one piece of advice it would be to wear one of your hats as you travel those extra miles!