Behavioural science – the key to better software

What is it that makes people love using one software application, but hate another? And why do we get addicted to certain social media platforms, while others slowly fade away? Scientists agree that it’s all very closely linked to what we call behavioural science, and it can be the key to competitive success in software development.

What is behavioural science?

In brief terms, behavioural science is the study of human behaviour and how people interact with the world around them. When applied to business and technology, we often talk about Human Computer Interaction (HCI), where we look to incorporate the principles of psychology and behaviour into how we develop products and services.

What are the business benefits?

By adopting behavioural science into your product development, you can start to see some very tangible improvements in how users engage with your solution. More importantly, you will be able to design solutions that users instantly love.

Some of the most common benefits of behaviour-driven software design include:

  • Build better products faster
    By understanding how people behave – and what they need and expect from a solution – you can make sure that the user’s perspective sits at the heart of your product design from the very beginning. Once you know what drives the user’s behaviour, you will be able to identify what features are critical, what they are willing to pay for, and what they are happy to compromise on.
  • Become more competitive
    Sometimes the best performing software is not the one with the most features and the most beautiful interface – but it’s the one that satisfies the needs of the user. By focusing on what your users want, and creating features that match their behaviour, your application can compete with even high-profile, well-known brands.
  • Retain customers for longer
    Habit is the key to retention. If you can create software that becomes a natural part of someone’s daily routine, they will be more likely to continue using it – even when offered an alternative. By ensuring the user’s habits are reflected in the software design, you can raise a powerful mental barrier preventing them from leaving the software.
  • Make users happy
    Whether the software is designed for internal use in your business or for the wider market, users will always enjoy working with software that was designed with their behaviour in mind. Happiness and work satisfaction are big topics of discussion at the moment, and many organisations want to invest in ways to improve mental health in the workplace. One such initiative could be making sure that their software is making life easier rather than causing frustration and stress.
  • Foster better behaviour
    With the help of software design, you can influence people’s behaviour over time. It can be gentle nudges towards increased productivity, better social interaction, or perhaps improved customer communications. However, it’s important to use this power responsibly and not impact behaviour in a way that is unethical. Always ensure that any such initiatives are fully in line with your company’s mission statement.

Get the right skills

As behavioural science is making big waves in software development, companies are increasingly employing team members with skills in the field of psychology and HCI. This often means that the business can bring together both the user’s and the developer’s perspective in a powerful way, creating a much-needed balance in the software design process.