Why do we need empathy in the world of technology
All I need as a developer is programming skills, right?
From the translator: we publish for you an article by web developer Joe Franchetti about empathy in the world of programming and the significance of this feeling for the entire IT industry.
When developing software, we pay almost all attention to technology. Programmers try to use the most modern methods, new libraries and packages. But in this pursuit, they sometimes forget about their users - those who will work with the program or service.
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Understanding how and why people use the products and services you create is of serious economic importance. The fact is that only by understanding the habits, needs and desires of users, you will be able to make applications that users will love and not hate.
Empathy allows us to understand the feelings and expectations of others without the need for direct communication. All because we are all human beings and can imagine how others feel.
Waiting for a page that opens extremely slowly, the need to make a number of unnecessary movements to buy the desired product, bombardment with notifications, or an implicit UX — you have probably come across something from this list, so you understand well what I'm getting at. That is why you should avoid creating code that leads to such and other similar problems.
Look at the photo above. It shows a slide with the amount of time that a resident of a certain country needs to work out in order to earn 500 MB of traffic. We, the developers, are quite active consumers and creators of Internet traffic. I am very glad that I have unlimited internet, as well as the fact that I can afford it. I consume as much as I need, and I don’t worry about the need to load huge datasets.
But when I see that users from Nigeria need to work 28.2 hours in order to afford to buy only 500 MB, or that Brazilians need to work a week to get the same opportunity, I feel uncomfortable. I understand that creating sites that will not consume a lot of traffic when working with them is very important. By developing optimized pages, I make my site accessible to all, my audience is growing, and the customer base is gradually filled with new names.
It bothers not only me. Microsoft recently began promoting its ' Inclusive Design Toolkit ' project , which aims to give developers the opportunity to create websites that are accessible to everyone.
It is this property - Accessibility - something that development teams sometimes forget about in an effort to quickly launch their product. This is because they themselves have no restrictions on access to the network or the performance of the equipment. And so they forget about those who have a traffic limit, and a laptop or PC do not tear the tops of benchmarks.
In order to immerse yourself in the problems of users, you can create potential inconveniences for yourself in order to see how well the product handles them. An example is an artificial limitation of the bandwidth of a communication channel, setting an unusual color scheme (high contrast), or working with an application for moms with one hand (because the other is occupied by a child).
Such temporary problems help the developer empathize, identify himself as a user, feel himself in his place.
Too small or, on the contrary, too large buttons in the application, a bad design or color scheme - all this can prevent the user from becoming acquainted with your product.
Another way to create an optimal website, application or service is to conduct a beta test with a certain sample of users. Not only people are important here, but also their devices - after all, the variety of gadgets are very large now.
Empathy helps with communication with their colleagues. After all, developers mostly work in teams with other programmers, designers, testers, clients, etc. Understanding what other people in a team do and empathy make it possible to get more pleasure from work, at the same time making the workflow itself more comfortable for others and, in general, more effective.
As a demonstration of what empathy means for techies, you should use this video. It raises the question of the origin of some of the usual for technical companies problems associated with its absence in the team.
Anyone thinks a little differently than others. Information is perceived and processed by each of us in different ways. In some cases, empathy is simply not applicable, because there are situations when we cannot empathize. Therefore, it is necessary to simply accept the rule that we are all different, which means that when developing programs, it is necessary to take into account the peculiarities of many people. Otherwise, products such as digital assistants that do not recognize women's voices , or soap dispensers with a sensor that reacts only to white or black skin, may turn out .
It has been proven that teams consisting of very different people create better products, solve problems faster and generally work more efficiently. “Different” - in the sense of not only education, but also a lifestyle, attitude to life, race, sex and communication skills.
Taking care of yourself
The last thing I mention is taking care of myself. Our industry in some cases contributes to an unhealthy lifestyle. We, the developers, spend time mostly sitting. We look at the monitors most of the day.
In order to stay healthy, it is very important to exercise, stretch, and let your eyes relax. An unsuccessful diet (notorious fatty foods and alcohol) can reduce your ability to concentrate and sleep well, which affects both your physical condition and mental health. Not immediately, but over time, the changes are becoming more noticeable.
I talked with many developers from different companies and countries of the world. Many of them burned out, losing interest in the profession, in pursuit of quickly completing the product, adding maximum functions to the application or making more money (underline the necessary)
Therefore, my advice is to take care of yourself, take time. Try to follow the daily regimen, to form a healthy diet and disconnect from work issues outside the office. All this will allow you to stay in good shape for many years.