Broken software is bad for everyone

Poorly built software creates more problems than it solves.

Dan Webb
Dan Webb
Feb 22, 2022
Engineering, User Experience

Software is built and real people use it for real everyday stuff.

It has the power to reduce stress and increase efficiency, with it people can get on with doing the stuff they actually want to be doing. For a systems standard user journeys, software should be unbeatable.

But so much of the time, the software that’s built falls short of that potential.

It’s shipped with obvious flaws, bugs that never get fixed, failures in realising its basic intended use cases.

Because of this, most people still don’t trust software, they try to avoid using it, it’s too complex, they’ve had bad experiences in the past and they would sooner reach for the phone for reliability if they needed a job done properly.

An example of this is my local leisure centre’s booking system.

  • Booking times don’t match up to the times internal system counter staff use - such a blatant flaw.
  • The booking flow is obviously patched together from generic services, so includes way more feature bloat and complexity than it should need to.
  • Staff at the counter don’t have admin rights to override simple things, like a booking left idle in a customers basket, which blocks other customers bookings and costs the company money.
  • As a customer, at no point in the use of the software do I feel confident in it. I’m never fully reassured that a booking has gone through correctly.

Tonight at the counter, when I raised issues with the staff, I was told to just call on the phone instead. They know the system is terrible, one member of staff mentioned that decisions and changes are made to the system, but the staff there, the people who actually interact with customers, are never asked about what they need it to do.

Poorly built software creates more problems than it solves, I’m sure the staff would feel better off using a basic spreadsheet.

As a software developer, I’m embarrassed.

I’m embarrassed for the client who bought into the software, not really fully grasping what they were buying into. I’m embarrassed by the company that cares more about sales than what they’re selling. I’m embarrassed most of all by the developers that build without question, thought, or empathy.

This kind of software has no positive outcomes for anyone involved.

It’s up to us to build it properly, or not build it at all. Make better software.

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