Put your users first!
I am really big on “user experience” and this is a useful article on the subject, here is one of my favourite bits:
one core principle stands out large from all of these various experiences. The inversion of control, from the organisation to the individual, is going to become increasingly and fundamentally disruptive to IT shops that don’t obey this commandment. And the world of Web 2.0 only further highlights it. And that is putting the user and their needs, front and center. That means going out of your way to know what their problems are, engaging them, and being useful and indispensable. If you focus on that, you can’t go wrong.
Now, some of you might consider this obvious advice, but we witness the breakdown of putting the user first all the time. One of my favorite citations is that the vast majority of defects in software come not from actual bugs, but from failure to engineer the requirements correctly. In other words, to figure out what the user really needs. Now, and this is the tricky part, it is often true that the user has no idea what they need, and can’t very well ask for it. It’s up to us as IT experts and software developers to be able to help them figure it out.