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Driving the App Dev Vehicle Top-Down

3 minutes read

It’s All About the User eXperience

My team and I are constantly talking to our customers about putting their customers first. Because when it comes to developing or modernizing an application, we all know that in today’s digital era, you need to put the user first. Industry advice repeatedly recommends Start from the front end, and build from the “top down” and you can hear the words echoing down the internet pathways.

Not surprising, is it? This coming decade is often labeled as “the decade of design” with the increasing digitization of products and services–and the need to make them consumable, visually appealing, and user-centric. Designing with user experience (UX) in mind is simply good business.

Backing Yourself Into a Corner with a Backend-First Approach

But as a developer, it is tempting to jump right in and build “the app for that” yourself, from scratch. You take pride in your developer prowess. And you appreciate the power of your backend coding and its capabilities, so that when you get to the finished product and look at the “front end” user interface, you lean back, survey your handiwork, and smile with satisfaction. Your work here is done, right? Everything works well and makes sense to you, because you’ve been working with the core technology for so long.

Alas, it is all too easy to lose sight of this. In fact, recently at Servoy, we made this mistake when building our new website. We wanted a sexier website, one that was easier to navigate, and one with a more appealing user design. (Check it out and see if you agree we succeeded: We are smart, we said to our collective self. Let’s build it ourselves, from the bottom up. We had access to WordPress, an industry-proven CMS. So pushing the website live was no problem. And superficially, we did accomplish our goal fairly quickly and inexpensively.

The website looked great. Everyone loved it. Big thumbs up. But wait. There was one big problem we discovered a couple weeks after launching the site. We forgot about one tiny little user, Google! Our user interface was fine, but some important SEO-related tags were omitted in the source code. Actually, ALL the SEO-related tags were left off and the website had turned into a maze of redirects. As a result, the visits to our website plummeted and we were left scratching our heads. Several weeks later, we called in SEO experts for an assessment. Two months later, we confirmed that the problem was fixed. SEO is on track. (The happy ending is that site visits ARE on the rise.) But all of this could have been avoided if we had started from the top down, with the end-user and Google [wink] in mind – and enlisted the help of experts.

Modernize Complex Biz Apps with a Top-Down Approach

The point is this: to do things right, you need to start with from the top down. This logic even makes sense when calculating deadlines, for example. You start at the deadline and work backward with estimated times of subtasks.

At Servoy, we help you easily and quickly modernize your complex business applications with a better user experience, which is a win-win for you–and for your customer. Your customer gets the app in their hands quickly and you get the app to market faster. CSAT is high all the way around.

By the way, stay tuned for more insightful articles from me coming soon–about rapid application development platforms and more!

Follow me on Twitter at @YBOOM or connect at

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