The Frustration of Constant Software Updates: Why Developers Need to Listen to Users
April 18, 2023
Let me tell you, there are only two things in this world that I despise more than anything else: the dentist and software updates. I mean, seriously, who actually enjoys them? They're like the ultimate buzzkill when you're in the middle of a project. Yuck!
Software is a tool that I use, similar to a hammer or an ax, and I've become accustomed to using it. I know how to navigate menus, scrolls, buttons, and other features, which is especially important when I'm working on prompt projects. But what happens when my tool starts working improperly? To make my point clearer, let me give you an example.
Let's say you buy a car to commute from home to work. You test drive the car and are pleased with its features, so you buy it. You use it every day and become familiar with the steering wheel, multimedia, mirrors, parktronic, pedals, air conditioner, and other features. But one sunny morning, when you're in a hurry to get to work, you notice an extra steering wheel on the front seat. The car is driving strangely, and you see an additional wheel. How would you feel? Overwhelmed, right? You call your dealer to get an explanation, and they cheerfully tell you that your car was updated to make your driving safer and increase your auto tonnage. But did you ask for those changes? You use your car for commuting and running small errands, not for carrying heavy loads. And short-distance driving eliminates the need for a second driver. "Oh, calm down! We know better what additional features you need!" Really? You know better, right?
That's the kind of conversation I had with a developer representative after a software I used frequently was updated. They claimed to know what needed to be changed to make the app run better and make me happy. But do I like their new narrow and faded scrollbars that are hard to catch and move up or down, especially when I'm working on my laptop and using the touchpad instead of a mouse? Let me stress it: when you work, when each minute is valuable, it's torture.
And those people claim they work for users to make their lives easier. Make it easier? Can you hear yourself? What about the working area? The edges are barely visible, causing your eyes to strain, and the tiny faded letters make it worse.
If you want to know what I did in the situation with those updated apps, I had to subscribe to a similar app. It has fewer features but surpasses the updated app in terms of usability.
Some software developers make surveys to get users' opinions on their apps, which seems smart. But why, in many cases, don't they rely on the collected data? Either there are no software improvements based on users' preferences, or their updates make things worse.
Hey, developers, why wouldn't you form focus groups of the most intensive users to resort to their experience with application exploitation? Secondly, developers could identify the most popular features of their software and maintain them unchanged, in my opinion. Additionally, I would add a feature that allows users to return to a previous version. That's how Amazon approaches upgrading applications on their website.
This is not a review of a software application, but rather a musing on a trend I think is forming. Unfortunately, I encounter more and more cases where developers ignore users' opinions. Sure thing, not all developers upgrade in the same way; in fact, many do incremental upgrades with a real focus on users.
So what can we do about it? Well, we can start by being more vocal about our opinions. Don’t just shrug your shoulders and accept a bad update – tell the developers what you think! Leave reviews, send feedback, tweet at them, whatever it takes. If enough of us speak up, maybe they’ll start to listen.
And in the meantime, maybe we should start appreciating the software that actually works. The ones that don’t bombard us with pointless updates, the ones that actually make our lives easier rather than harder. Because, let’s face it, those are becoming increasingly rare these days.
So the next time you’re pulling your hair out because your phone or computer just updated and everything is different, take a deep breath and remember: you’re not alone. We’re all in this together, trying to navigate a world of constantly-changing software updates. And who knows, maybe someday, someone will come along and make things a little bit easier for all of us.
Am I just an ever-disappointed grumbler? If I'm wrong, I would be happy to hear your arguments too.