January 9, 2012

App Development Lesson One: Start With the Needs of Citizens

HANA SCHANK, a Principal at Collective User Experience, thinks New York City has a 'digital deficiency' and she explains why in a Fast Company expert blog.

Ms Schank writes, "You are circling the block again, desperately seeking a parking space - - and then you remember there's an app for that. You whip out your phone and pull up Roadify, the high-profile winner of New York City's second BigApps contest, which is supposed to provide a real-time list of parking spaces near your location. You watch as Roadify loads and quickly discover there are no free parking spaces within a 10-mile radius of where you are currently circling the block. This shouldn't surprise you because there are usually almost no parking spaces listed in the app, rendering it fairly useless."

Another example of an app that received a fair amount of media attention but has lagged in user adoption is Sportify. "It, too, is a great idea in principle (find people near you who want to play pickup sports!), which has yet to catch on. All of this is the predictable result of the city's approach to digital development, which focuses on plenty of sizzle, not much steak."

The author claims, "these missteps tend to be true with all of New York City's digital efforts."

Whether you agree with Hana Schank's perspective or not, the learning lesson is to take into account the needs of citizens - not, 'let's make something neat.' In other words, start with the end users of the system and go from there.

>Read New York City's Digital Deficiency here

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