Web Development and User Friendliness

I saw the following quote in the comments of a blog post today:

Itâ??s been developed using newest web2.0 technologies so itâ??s fast and user friendly.

This was written by the developer of a newly released web application. I’m not trying to embarrass anyone here, so I’ll leave off the name and the application. So what’s wrong with this statement? It’s the assumption (by many I might add), that using Web 2.0 technologies leads to a speed increase and user friendliness.

In my experience, the user friendliness of an application has very little direct correlation to the technology used for development. What matters is how that technology is applied. This concept is true not just on the web, but across all markets where technology is used as a critical part of the product or service.

The focus needs to be on the customer. Users of an application could really care less about what technology is being used to create the software. We run into this issue all the time with RSS feeds. The acronym doesn’t matter to the end-user. The technology doesn’t matter. All that matters is relieving the pain. If you can help a customer do their job better, easier, or faster, they won’t care what technology you used to build the application. There really is no new technology around Web 2.0 applications. Those associated with Web 2.0 (such as Ajax, RSS, and APIs) have bee around for quite a while. What makes these technologies special are the new techniques and concepts being used to build these applications.

The lesson here? You can build a crappy application using any process if you don’t focus on your customers and what they value.

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Tom currently works in developer relations for IBM Watson. A serial entrepreneur, he's been the founder of numerous startups including Investify and StatsMix, a Techstars alumni company. Tom lives outside Boulder, Colorado and in his free time he's an avid rock climber, skier, and trail runner.

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