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User-Driven Software Product Development

Big changes are on the horizon for LabVIEW,  many of which were directly inspired by user feedback. We spoke to Jenifer Loy, Application Software User Experience Manager, to learn about how we're both getting and incorporating these inputs into the plan for the future of LabVIEW.


Jenifer LoyNational Instruments: As the leader of a newly created UX team focused on redesigning the look and feel of LabVIEW, tell us what customers shared with you that lead to the changes we’ll see in the software.


Jenifer Loy: As we began working on the next generation of this software, our goal was to build upon the strengths of LabVIEW by optimizing workflows for acquiring custom measurements and visualizing engineering data. Some user input inspired new concepts such as a quick way to capture and reuse test data throughout the lifecycle of a custom measurement system.  Other user input, such as a compulsive desire to remove 1px wire bends, inspired us to explore refinements to the diagram layout and wiring system such that users can focus more on the program logic and less on the aesthetics of the composition.


NI: Share your thoughts on how we’re involving users for the definition of roadmaps and features and the importance of these interactions?


JL: From the beginning of this project, we have involved an ever-growing community of users whom we’ve asked to help vet our product development goals and roadmap. The nature of this engagement has included a variety of formats  including focus groups for conceptual discussion, hands-on sessions with early builds for holistic workflows, and targeted usability studies to refine specific parts of the experience.  In addition, when we introduced the NI Software Technology Preview in August 2016, we also included feedback mechanisms directly within the software so users could provide immediate feedback to the development team at any time.  The learnings from these activities have had a significant impact on the functionality and user experience today.


NI: How do you feel about NI having an active community collaborating and testing the features? How does this improve/impact your work?


JL: We are fortunate to have such an active and dedicated user base who regularly provides input and feedback to make the overall experience better.  In my 19 years at National Instruments, I have most enjoyed the times when I get to see the amazing things our users accomplish with the help of LabVIEW. Keeping this kind of collaboration open in a continuous way enables us to make product decisions that best align with our users’ needs and work styles.


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