Adding Value to Applications
When developing applications sometimes it is very clear how to start, primarily because you are providing a solution to a problem when you begin. After you have provided the solution, how do you continue to add value to your application for users? Where do you focus your energy to continue growing? Reflecting on what applications do can provide some categorization of what can be done. After shortly reflecting on projects I have done in the past year I came up with a few categories.
Collect and Reflect
This technique embodies a basic function of applications. Typically one collects information from the user and then permits them to reflect on the information. Both the collection and reflection processes come in many different forms. Collection may be done actively or passively, Reflection may be done in a one-to-one fashion, lists, or aggregate representations.
Have you ever turned a Microsoft Word document into a PDF file? This is a common example of a transformation. All of the data in your application may have value outside of your application. By breaking down the boundaries between your application and others you are increasing your product value to consumers. Who wants to worry about vendor lock? To this day I find it difficult to cope with all of the vendor lock issues enterprises have to deal with.
What if you could download an application to automate all of your job duties and leave you with just worrying about managing and reviewing the processes? Get past the initial fear that it would eliminate your job and you may find that it would lead to a happier, more productive you. As your application grows, automate workflows within the application providing review points.
None of us have all the answers, even in well defined domains of knowledge. Sometimes the only way to find an answer is to explore. Working at a University I find myself frequently having to use tools outside of a given system to analyze and correlate data to find the answers to questions posed by management. Adding features to allow users to explore data within your application will bode well for your company and make your developers happy.