You should use your apps

Building software can be exhausting. Always trying to improve it by adding features, fixing bugs and maintaining code quality in the meantime. There are a lot of methodologies software developers incorporated in their workflow in order to improve the software development process. Be it by starting with prototyping, wireframes, software design, automated or manual testing. Still, there is one methodology that is rarely mentioned, but it could significantly help you make better apps - using them.

How it’s used?

Just to be clear, I’m talking about the apps that makes sense to use in your free time. Not the big enterprise software you build on your day job and maybe can’t even access from outside your workplace. But for your own apps, the ones that you own in every aspect, this is an easy and necessary thing to do. In case the app is not so usable to you, you should try and put yourself in a position if its user. Each day a new feature or bug fix is made, go through the app and just use it. From my own experience in building software I can witness that the apps I’m most proud of are those I use myself. The reason is that the details that could make your app stand out is hard to catch, especially with something like automated tests. When you use the app, you can notice some things you couldn’t as a developer or a designer. Maybe the new feature doesn’t work that good as it looked in wireframes. Maybe it slowed down the whole app.

Usability assurance?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for automated tests and having a dedicated QA, but for small hobby projects that’s often not feasible. On the other hand, the cost of using your app shouldn’t be high. If it’s a mobile app you can probably use it while commuting or drinking coffee. And its benefits are many, from catching the bugs that neither automated tests nor testers could, to getting new ideas on how to improve the app. Be it a feature, UX, UI or code quality improvement.