Google Wallet gets that speed is everything

The developer mindset is light-years from how consumers actually interact with apps

What software developers really want
Credit: Thinkstock

Developers regularly underestimate any effort they expect from consumers. The coder thinks, "This is easy. Just press the button that says 'Hello' and the action happens." But the user's experience is more like, "In the middle of the situation, I have to remember which app to open. I  have to scroll through my apps to find it and then open it and then find the screen where it says 'Hello.' Too much hassle."

In short, developers don't visualize from the user's perspective. Nowhere is this more critical than with mobile payments. Apple Pay works as well as it does because there is no app to open, no button to click, nothing to remember. The shopper simply holds the phone next to the card-swipe, and the transaction is concluded within two seconds. Finally, some of that thinking has hit Google.

Consider this subtle but important Google Wallet move. An update allows for automatic bank account transfers that will specifically "no longer require you to cash out money from the Wallet balance first," Techcrunch notes.

From one perspective, that change is saving only a matter of seconds for a consumer who is used to the app and knows exactly how to process that transfer. That is programmers' blind spot. They intuitively know where everything is and how it's supposed to work — it helps to have written the code — and they assume that customers would be similarly familiar with the app. That is a crucial error, and it's one that happens far too often.

What we're really talking about here is an app chicken-or-egg debate. What app developers need to envision are consumers who have never seen the interface before and are trying to figure it out. That's where every single user starts. And if those users stumble around and find that it takes too long, they'll simply give up. Why wouldn't they?

Fans of the app will indeed become as comfortable and fast with the app as its developers, but studying those people generates the wrong kind of feedback for the developers.

Google, which is the king of Silicon Valley developer think, has figured out that anything that reduces an app's steps or in any way accelerates the process is a huge win.

If someone wants to access money, the app should already know from where. This is all about using the data you already know to accelerate the experience. When a consumer walks into their bank to apply for another loan, why does she have to key in her name and address when the bank already knows all of that?

Google Wallet may not be the easiest way to spend money with an Android phone, but it just got a little easier.

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