Understanding the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

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Understand the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), a process used by the software industry to design, develop and test high quality softwares.

Those who are new to software development often don’t know where to start.

Luckily, nearly every industry relies on a helpful standard to offer guidance, including software development.

In this case, developers have the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), alternatively called the software development process. 

The SDLC is a set of stages that software engineers follow in a development project. This cycle defines the methodology for optimizing the development process and meeting client needs. Here at Trio, we have the best content in the software engineering universe, some of which are exclusively produced by top senior developers in the market. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll definitely love exploring our collection of specialized articles.

Continue to read to know more about the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)!

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The 6 Phases of the Software Development Life Cycle

The phases of the Software Development Life Cycle take place in chronological order.

In each stage, a certain objective must be met before moving to the next.

Of course, once your app is fully developed and released onto the market, it’s your job to do the upkeep.

Let’s know the 6 stages/phases of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).

Flowchart detailing six stages in the software development lifecycle.

1. Defining

Also called requirement analysis, defining project requirements is the most important stage of the SDLC.

Senior members of the team gather inputs from your client, the sales department, market surveys, and domain experts in the industry.

This information determines how you will make software that is profitable and sustainable.

At this stage, quality assurance (QA) and risk identification also occur.

A technical feasibility study is used to define the various technical approaches that will help to successfully develop the project and minimize possible risks.

Once the requirements have been clearly defined and documented, the client must give their final approval before moving forward.

In some versions of the SDLC, a planning stage precedes this phase where business goals and prerequisites are examined and specified. 

2. Designing

Software requirement specification (SRS) is a detailed reference expanding on the functional and non-functional requirements of the given software.

Developers use the SRS as a guide to delivering the best possible product architecture.

Based on the requirements specified in the SRS document, software architects use a system design specification (SDS) or design document specification (DDS) to suggest design ideas.

Stakeholders choose the optimal taking a number of factors into accounts such as risks, modularity, and budget.

3. Developing

Here, the product is developed according to the DDS. With clear and detailed specifications, developers shouldn’t run into any major problems while programming. 

Software engineers follow the programming guidelines defined by their organization and adapt their work to the project requirements.

Different high-level programming languages are used to create the software, depending on the technology stack most suitable for the software being built.

4. Testing

In reality, this stage occurs at all stages of the SDLC.

This is where product defects are reported, tracked, fixed, and re-tested until the product reaches the standards defined in the SRS.

Essentially, this phase serves as a filter for all possible functionality errors that arise before the software’s release. 

5. Deploying

Now your product is ready to be released onto the market. Sometimes product releases happen in stages depending on the business strategy of the client’s organization.

Normally, the product is first released to a limited audience before being tested in a real business environment.

Given relative feedback, the product may then be released in full or undergo a round of changes to meet market requirements better.

6. Maintaining

After the product is released to the market, it should be maintained and updated when needed. 

The development process rarely, if ever stops at deployment.

There is a continuous need for innovation that demands your software to grow and develop with the market.

Software Development Life Cycle Methodologies

There are various software development life cycle methodologies that can streamline the software development process.

Each process model follows a series of steps unique to its type to ensure success.

Below are the most common SDLC methodologies: 

Waterfall model

All requirements are defined in the beginning. Development is done in sequential phases.

Once a phase is complete, you move on to the next one. There is no going back to make changes to the previous phases.

Iterative model

This model relies on a working prototype developed early on, wherein every stage your developer team must go through the motions of setting requirements, testing, and so on.

Complexity and additional features are added progressively throughout the process.

Big Bang model

The Big Bang model, unlike other popular models, does not follow any specific set of guidelines.

You’ll be able to jump right into development when you follow this model but it’s a gamble as to whether or not you’ll please your clients.

V-shaped model

Like the waterfall model, this model goes from one phase to the next immediately after each phase is completed.

However, the V-shaped model is characterized by a period of testing that takes place at each development phase.

Spiral model

The spiral model can be related to the waterfall model except with a greater focus on risk analysis.

This process is iterative as new feedback is implemented following each incremental release.

Agile model

This methodology is distinguished by its collaborative intent and involves a high level of engagement between the client and the developers.

It is also an iterative process completed in cycles called sprints with the objective of continuous development.

Related read: Learn to build an agile software development team

The 12 Key Principles of User-Friendly Software Development

The ideal software development process balances business-oriented client needs with the need to optimize users’ interaction with the software.

Keeping the latter in mind is critical to developing software that not only performs well on the market but genuinely provides value to the user.

The end-user likely doesn’t possess the same technological expertise as your developers, so it is imperative to make your software user-friendly.

To do this, you have to understand what your end-user needs and/or what problem your software will solve. 

1. Define your User

Before you start the process of software development it is crucial to identify the key elements of your end-users behavior.

Ask big questions like:

  • “What motivates my users?” and
  • “What are my users looking for?”

2. Know your Audience

Figuring out who your key demographic is will give you a better idea of who your users are and how to adapt your software to their needs.

You should consider the following segmentations to analyze your user base:

  • Geographic

A user’s geography will often define economic factors, which will of course affect buying potential.

You can narrow down this category as you like from countries to counties to specific regions.

  • Demographic

This type of segmentation is based on factors such as gender, age, race, occupation, socio-economic status, educational level, family status, marital status.

These demographics will influence user behavior.

  • Psychographic

Attitudes, values, beliefs, interests, and lifestyles all play into psychographic segmentation.

Psychographic characteristics affect a user’s decision-making process.

3. Study the Behavior of your users

Familiarizing yourself with your audience is the first step to pinpointing who your users are.

By knowing where your users are from, how they identify, and what they believe, you can dive deeper into their behavior.

Software development is not limited to programming and technical attributes. It also involves understanding the human psyche, and how your users’ emotions and behaviors can be addressed through your software.

4. Research your Market

Market research creates a solid base for understanding your product’s chances for success given current market conditions.

You can also identify the challenges you might face when launching the product and find solutions towards overcoming them whilst still in development.

For example, knowing your competition will give you an advantage in developing the features that they lack, setting competitive pricing, and optimizing the product to market needs.

5. Refine Your Tech

While the technical features of the software can vary, there are general guidelines that your software should follow in order for it to be user-friendly.

The idea is to make your product easy to use where the user can navigate to their goal in as little time as possible.

6. Prioritize the Simplicity

Keep it simple.

From the installation of your software to user interaction, everything needs to be simple and well-documented.

Clean and minimalistic designs are the distinctive features of the most popular applications and software solutions. Simplicity allows for easy user navigation.

7. Don’t forget the Aesthetic

Whether you like it or not, your product will get judged by its cover so it’s important to make a good first impression.

How your software looks have a direct effect on how user-friendly it is.

8. Be Intuitive

Similarly, a well-designed graphical user interface (GUI) will help users avoid having problems with your software.

A well designed GUI can sometimes compensate for small flaws in software, but by no means can it replace good programming which will ultimately define the value of your product.

9. And Updatable

Updating your software should be a no-brainer for the end-user because they are more than likely to skip the updating process if they find it complicated, which will eventually lead to problems with functionality.

To avoid exposing your software to potential problems, make sure the updating process is a breeze.

10. The software must be Efficient

The goal of your software is to provide value to the end-user by completing its job without interfering with other programs or creating any roadblocks for its users.

It should save time for the user and help them solve their problems efficiently.

11. And easy to Remove

Uninstalling your software should be just as easy as installing it.

If your software isn’t easy to remove, it can become a burden and complicate the performance of your user’s devices, which is not user-friendly.

As much as you might not want your product to be uninstalled, this process should be fast and clear for the end-user.

12. Provide full Support

Your software needs a good support system.

You can develop the best and most comprehensible software ever, but your end-user may still have questions.

Users should be able to contact and receive support in a fast and timely manner.

Customer service is often the most important element of user-friendly software.

Related read: An Overview of Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

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With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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