While the focus of businesses might oftentimes be put on expectations and needs for their business in terms of choosing software, it is also insightful to take a look at the same topic from a different perspective – that of developers. As people who themselves work on the development of new technologies, it is valuable to consider what makes a good software from their point of view, considering the amassed knowledge and expertise on the topic itself.
Since many of us rely on standard industry practices and online reviews, seeking verified and quality reviews, you might wonder what it is that developers look for in software they use, be it privately or professionally. Is it the user interface design, is it perhaps good documentation, sensible pricing, open-source products, or something other than that? Various software provides various benefits and assistance in different aspects of life and work, such as those for time management, planning, research, purchasing, and others.
To be frank, choosing software is a challenge many people are faced with day to day. The ever-growing and the oversaturated market certainly doesn’t make the task any easier with time. You may wonder how developers do it. We hope that the following examples and tricks that developers employ when searching for new software will be of use to you and that you will be able to incorporate them the next time you need to find a program that fits you and your project.
- Know where to look – a developer knows what to rely on:
The most important thing when choosing software is knowing where to look. There are so many different places where you could be searching for software that it would be quite inefficient if you didn’t stick to only a few of the best. Every software developer has their preferences and your mileage may vary but there are a few that are common among most developers which have proven their usefulness:
Google: in reality, any search engine will work. Never underestimate the power of an old-fashioned Google search in terms of finding the answers to your issues and searches. While it may not always give you the best options it’s still incredibly useful in providing several baseline options which will provide an excellent starting point in your search;
Reddit or Stack Overflow: while it may seem risky to look for assistance on sites where anyone can post regardless of their expertise or credentials, the voting system for comments and posts make sure that the most upvoted posts are effectively the community consensus. These sites can provide a lot of ultra-specific applications, tips, and experiences that would be difficult to locate otherwise;
Review sites: as with any purchase it is almost mandatory to look at reviews to get an idea about the validity of the claims the software vendor is making and to get a good view from the consumer perspective. Review aggregator sites such as Truely will streamline this process by putting all the reviews in one place for you. While it may seem like an overly simple suggestion it is an incredibly important step towards choosing the correct software and most software developers employ it during their own searches;
Content creator: it may also be wise to check the opinions of any quality channels/content creators you follow to see if they have given their opinion. The best sources are those you personally trust and can verify their validity.
- Know what to look for – essential for every developer’s choice:
With the sheer number of features, upsides, downsides, hopes, and dreams it can be overwhelming to make a choice. This can be alleviated by narrowing your search and looking for only specific aspects of any given program. Each time you decrease the scope of your search the time required is exponentially reduced. A good place to start is accurately defining the problems you wish the software to resolve. Knowing which issues need a remedy will allow you to quickly ignore software that, while useful, would not be the choice for you.
If the software is on GitHub then checking the ratings is an excellent gauge of the quality of the software and any progress it has made. If it may not be the correct software now but is quickly being updated and expanding its feature list then it may be wise to keep an eye on it for future endeavors. It is also important to check for several other, smaller, but also important things such as: if the program receives support, the quality of the support if it does exist, if there are regular updates and whether or not. There is a demo option to let you get a better gauge on if you would be able to apply for the program in your work environment.
- Know how to avoid red flags – what developers would warn you about:
While knowing what positive aspects to look for is crucial, we shouldn’t ignore the importance of knowing what to avoid – here, we are primarily talking about infamous red flags. Knowledge of these red flags will allow you to instantly write off any programs which have them, streamlining search and greatly reducing the risk of disappointment. Some of the biggest red flags for developers are as follows:
Poor support: when encountering issues the support must be of high caliber, allowing you to quickly get back to work and reducing the productivity loss by as much as possible. Poor support can lead to needing to consistently troubleshoot on your own which is simply inefficient;
Lack of integration: the level of integration a program has will affect the time it takes to implement it or other programs down the line. A high level of integration will allow you to test or add in new software without a major bump in productivity, while poor integration will set you back hours if not days;
Poor to no documentation: it is simply not possible to overstate the importance of quality documentation. It allows you to get an idea about many aspects of the software quickly while also serving as a guide after purchase for ease of use even if the software may be highly complex. A lack of documentation can be incredibly frustrating and lead to lots of wasted time;
- Finally, how developers opt out for their choice
Write down the usability criteria, as any developer would. Consider learnability, efficiency, errors, satisfaction, efficiency, cost of any software you’re considering and cross-examine it with other contenders on your bucket list. While a lot of this comes down to personal preference and individual needs, some things, more than others, apply as general criteria. Here we’re thinking of software training, self-help resources, available and reliable customer support, integrations and operating specifications (check whether any software you’re debating fits your technology infrastructure), and overall compatibility.
How developers (and all of us) learn is sometimes through trial and error. So, don’t stress out too much over possible choices, but take this list as something that might help you narrow things down. Lastly, bon voyage into your software world.