The software industry is constantly evolving. Companies need to design maintainable and scalable software to stay competitive in the marketplace.
The first step for any company looking to improve their product is to analyze what they currently have in place.
This allows them to identify their shortcomings and how to address them.
If you're interested in learning more about this process, make sure you check out the insights below.
Understand the needs of your users
Understanding the needs of your users can be a challenging task.
However, if you can pinpoint those needs early in the process, you'll have a much easier time designing something that meets their expectations.
An excellent place to start is by conducting interviews with key stakeholders and potential customers.
Ensure to ask questions about how they currently use software or service and topics like supportability, usability issues, and costs associated with upgrades/downgrades from one product version to another.
This will help narrow down which areas need improvement before moving forward with any design decisions.
Create clear goals with measurable results
When setting out initial goals for any software design improvement plan, make sure that those goals have clear metrics attached to them.
Analyzing your data after project completion should tell you what needs improvement and where.
Stay in touch with current technology trends
Many corporations develop software that might not be appropriate for current technology trends.
This could mean their product will become outdated and eventually discontinued, especially if the company is small or located in a country with fewer customers.
It's essential to stay current in your industry so change doesn't catch you off guard.
Make it easy to change, update, or add features later on
A common software design issue is limitations imposed by a company's core product. This means that anything new or changed will be challenging to implement and maintain, leading to higher costs in the long run.
Incorporate product flexibility from day one, to avoid problems later when things inevitably change.
Keep things as simple as possible
Software developers often fall into the trap of over-engineering the solution to a problem.
One example is adding unnecessary features or code that might not always be needed.
This is especially true in software development teams where fewer people work on projects than in more traditional engineering contexts.
Software engineers will have to test and debug different solutions, leading to higher costs for the company and an increased risk of mistakes being made during those processes.
Keep your code clean and readable
To avoid the pitfall of excess design complexity, developers should make sure they're working on a solution that is simple and concise. They can achieve this by keeping their code clean and readable, so it's easy to understand for other people who might read or modify the project later.
This will also help developers keep code up-to-date with new changes as they happen and ensure that everything is easily portable if there's ever a need to switch platforms.
The top ways to keep your code simple are:
Avoid overusing conditional statements.
If you need to use them, try and keep them as simple as possible by using the fewest number of necessary conditions for the task at hand. Conditional statements also should be kept in a single location rather than scattered throughout the codebase or repeated unnecessarily.
Keep variables and functions meaningful and descriptive so they can be read easily later.
Use loops instead of repeatedly adding items with an additional method call each time if it's more efficient/readable — this is especially true when dealing with arrays or lists inside structures like JSON objects.
Create modular components with well-defined interfaces
In the modern-day software development landscape, modularity is critical not only for developers but also in terms of how customers view an application.
One way to achieve this goal is to create modules with well-defined interfaces (e.g., API) so they're easier to reuse in other projects and less time-consuming to modify down the line.
This will save both the developer's and customer's time that can be spent elsewhere on a project or task at hand.
Consider adopting continuous integration practices
Software developers should always consider adopting continuous integration practices early before something significant happens.
That might mean making fewer mistakes along the way as team members work together more efficiently.
A good example would be using a tool like Travis CI to help build, test, and deploy a new project with just one command.
Making sure you're following best practices before anything is deployed to production can save so much time for the team in the long run.
Make sure your data storage solution is scalable
Data storage issues are one of the most common reasons for software design inadequacies today.
One way to avoid this problem is to choose a scalable data storage solution that can grow with your company as it grows in size and needs.
Many developers choose not to consider how much space their database will need, or they store all of their information within a single table, making everything more difficult down the line when there's too much content to handle.
Ensure you have enough server capacity to prevent breakdowns that can occur with cumulative increases in demand.
This article has shared a few key steps you can take to ensure your software is maintainable and scalable.
From using modular code architecture and separating core functionality from business logic to writing tests for every single piece of code in your project before releasing it into production, these practices will help ensure that future changes are quick and painless.
If you want more advice on how to design maintainable and scalable software, or if you need assistance with some aspect of software development, contact one of our software experts.