Part One | Packaging Your Software to Appeal to Both Engineers and End Users
The modern software company has two distinct categories of customer: the engineer and the end user. Both groups are avid users of programs and apps, both want streamlined, well-supported features and both want the same end result from their app: that it performs an intended function like checkbook balancing or image rendering. So what makes these two groups so distinct? The difference isn’t in what they want from an app, but how they want to use it.
Engineer vs End User: Understanding Each Buyer’s Intent
What marks engineers apart from normal end-users is their intention for the product, because they want to build their own projects using the tools provided by the app, rather than simply enjoying the app’s central functions. Software companies will sometimes make two separate versions of the same program in order to accommodate their engineer customer’s desire for detail and passion for creation, without alienating normal end-users with unnecessary complexity. Often, engineer users stem from business-to-business software use, startup ambitions, and independent hobbyists. Typical, less technical end-users are looking to streamline their day with a few useful apps. Even if the program is quite complex, most end users want the UI to be navigable and to see clear results, not the math behind the functions. Well developed buyer personas are the first step to understanding what each customer segment’s unique pains, needs and goals for using your software are, how they consume information, and how they’ll use your software’s features and why. Buyer personas help you put yourself in the shoes of your customer and understand their motives for purchasing the solution you’re offering.
Engineers: troubleshooting, problem solving, “putting out fires,” mitigating chaos, juggling projects, and getting projects done on time and on budget.
End users: simplifying/streamlining their life or workload, staying organized, multitasking, managing information, facilitating better communication between staff and departments, saving time and money.
Details vs Clarity
The first major difference between engineers and end-users is their varying desire for detail in an app.
- Want a clean interface, smooth lines, and big open spaces.
- Buttons and images should be well spaced, easy to discern between, and responsive to casual taps and swipes.
- Simplified designs often work best because they reduce clutter.
Engineers, on the other hand:
- Are interested in more detailed reports, status readings, and even the processor cost of the programs they use.
- These are your users that always open the ‘advanced settings’ box, sometimes just to see what’s inside.
- As an example, where an end user might use an app to check the visitor count of their blog, an engineer would dig into the app menus for deeper visitor analytics like the exact time of each visitor and the countries their IP addresses were from.
How to Reflect This in Your Product Development: UI and UX Considerations
At this point in the information age, there is a great deal of value to be gained by marketing your programs to both engineers and end-users, but it requires a comprehensive set of methods to successfully appeal to both groups with the same product. Excellent UI/UX design will serve both purposes, as will hidden but easily found settings and a modding platform that does not interfere with your stable core product.
Toggles vs Controls: End users value their time more than the underlying complexity of the software they use. When they open a settings page, they want to choose from a few easy to understand configurations and move on. It is for them that the convenient toggle-switch and setting-profiles were made. These create functional app configurations with a few button taps, suiting the needs of most on-the-go end-users. Conversely, engineers delight in opening up the settings page and are inherently interested in what will happen when small tweaks are made to the current configuration. While efficiency and setting-profiles are great default modes, engineer users will have a greater love for programs they can experiment with. It was for them that the ‘advanced settings’ panels were made, separate from the normal settings page where it can’t scare off busy non-engineer users.
Modding vs Stability: Designing to enable modding is a bold but increasingly popular choice for modern software and gaming companies. The number of engineers is constantly growing, driven by the expansion of the tech industry and prominence of independent developers. Why not cater to them by allowing them to improve your software? Well-made mods can, in fact, massively increase the popularity of the base product, and can often be incorporated into a new version of the original program. By creating a platform on which engineer users can write and share their own extensions, you openly welcome them to take part in your development. End users don’t care about modding, they want stable versions with complete listed features. Modding can serve them, but mostly as tested and integrated updates.
Software marketing begins with well mapped UI and UX design, followed by strong marketing that effectively showcases features and benefits in a way that specifically appeals to each market segment. In part two of Software Marketing that Appeals to Both Engineers and End Users we’ll outline how to create a marketing strategy and tactics that appeal to each buyer segment. Visit our blog for part 2, or contact our team of marketing experts at McAllister Marketing for more information on how we can help you to attract, convert and retain both engineers and end-user customers.