Traditional development cycles are called waterfalls because they flow in one direction and the lessons learned throughout the project are applied to subsequent projects by a team or company. Rather than making many small subsequent testing cycles, testing is done initially in the beginning and the project flows outwards in a linear fashion until completion.
Agile development is the smaller and messy cousin to waterfall development as there are many iterative testing phases done through the week or month to isolate and improve on a general idea or product. Teams can be split a certain way to focus production power on different aspects of the project, so that a troublesome issue that needs to be reworked, can be assigned a small team to create iterative production cycles and iron out any kinks that may appear.
While at first agile development seems risky due to faster and smaller cycles, it helps to create a better product long-term as decisions and lessons learned happen at a faster cycle with time to implement more efficient processes.
Early testing is the key to success, and you shouldn’t design in a vacuum. Getting focus groups or and testers is important to call out issues that may not be noticed due to being too close to the project. Have a fresh set of eyes and ears on the product or service provides a chance to see the work in a new light during every test cycle and take what works and leave the rest behind.
Testing has come a long way due to changes in technology and it products and services are more accessible than ever before to a higher number and variety of individuals. It is important to follow well established design principals but not at the cost of ignoring consumers. Good design is the marriage of usability and user needs, giving the business and their customer what they need.
Social Feedback & Marketing
Technology and social media have increased the rate at which companies and organizations are under scrutiny due to quality of product and ability to dynamically respond to consumer needs. Social media is used heavily when users feel that a company is making many changes with considering their needs, and the backlash can be quick and severe.
Proving a way to meaningfully connect with your users, such as Butterscotch Shenanigans and their game Levelhead through early access on steam, is a great partnership to take your fans along with you while you develop the very best product possible.
Modern day companies use solutions like Steam, Reddit and Discord to reach out and connect with their target market, even communicating directly in the chat with people providing real-time user feedback.
Consumers have a lot to say and if you choose to ignore the free market research that comes with interacting with your fan base, you risk alienating the very people who you are targeting with your product or service.
Using smaller development cycles within larger products ensures that the needs of the company and its users will get what they want and need out the project.
You can find out more about the indie game studio Butterscotch Shenanigans and their game Levelhead by visiting their website.