Richie Harris is the Chief Technology Officer at SingleMind. Richie has been working in development and technical support for over 15 years and he specializes in systems analysis, enterprise integration, and software design and architecture, but we just like to call it “technical magic”.
Q: What would you say if someone came to you and said, “Oh, I would like to build a mobile app.” Everybody has a new mobile app idea that’s gonna be the next Instagram or Facebook. What (assumptions) do they come to you with?
Well, I’d say the two big ones are that their idea is complete and that what they’re going to build is exactly what they have in their head. And that when it’s done it’ll – so it’s two different things. One is that their idea is complete and they don’t need to do any further research or any further examination of the concept. Two is, that when they’ve built it and it’s feature-complete they’ve built something that does everything they wanted it to do, and that they’re done. Number one kinda leads into the other but the first one is people get a great idea and it can be a great idea but that doesn’t mean it’s actually going to resonate with the users the way they expect it to. You can’t sell a screwdriver and not expect someone to use it to open their beer.
“People are both lazy and resourceful. They’ll use whatever tool they have in whatever way makes sense to them and it may not be the way that you expect it.”
You look at any major technology in the last 20 years, the evolution of technology, things that are as simple as email. Email has changed dramatically, and it was very simple to begin with, it was just you know, messaging. Peer to peer messaging, you were sending a message to somebody else. But the interactions that people have with it now, the way that it’s permeated, how we interact with everything. To an extent, it’s our identity online and the attachment that people have to that versus it simply being something that’s like your phone number. It’s not the same anymore. And so that evolved not because somebody had a bright idea about how to use email, that evolved because how people used it. You have to be cognizant of what people are actually doing. You have to study their behavior once you give them access to whatever your tool is.
You have to actually be willing to accept that maybe they know better how to use it than you had in mind in the first place.
Q: Yeah? (what is the second biggest assumption?)
The next piece is: when you’ve launched it, you’re done. And that is also almost never true. (When) you launch an app or you launch a website the reality is your work is just getting started. The moment it hits the public eye you need to be flexible, you need to be willing to take feedback.
You need to not, in the parlance of Apple, when the antenna was being sort of glitchy because it was in a particular place on the phone, Apple told their customers, “Well you’re holding the phone wrong.” You can’t tell them they’re holding the phone wrong. They’re holding the phone the way that they hold it. And if there’s enough people for that to be something that’s common, a common complaint. Then you have to be able to say, “Oh we put it in the wrong place.”
Q: Don’t expect your users to adjust to you, you have to adjust to your users?
Yeah, if you want to keep them.