At the end of the day, all software is basically the same whether for web, desktop, or mobile. If you think about, there’s a general archetypal pattern to the software UX lifecycle. For example:

• Often there’s some “out of the box” (OOBE) or first time use experience (FTU) with download/install/register/set-up. Maybe there’s a demo or trial version with some licensing options to select.

• Then there’s the primary interface with some objects (conceptual or literal) with some values or properties, and some actions can be taken against it (or related objects) that lead to some flow or activity fulfilling a user’s goals/desires/needs. Sure there’s errors, alerts, notifications. There may be multiple pathways through the system per roles or privileges. This may be presented as a dashboard or search/results screen or newsfeed, etc.

• And, there’s some profile or settings panel with credentialing (sign-in, connect, etc.) … with settings or preferences, and some customization (like wallpapers or ringtones, etc.).

• Plus, there are also updates and upgrades. Maybe a few plug-ins or extensions. And finally log-out or uninstall or deactivate to round out the total UX lifecycle, depending on situation.

(Not to be forgotten in this era of cross-device and cloud-sync’d apps is the total roundtrip experience and achieving seamless integration, single sign-on, remembering states, data conflict management, etc.)

That’s really it! :-) Not to sound glib about it all–it is an arduous journey to design great software–but just identifying the basic underlying pattern to a software experience, which can be, at times, challenging to recall or suss out, especially in the midst of heated requirements debates or tedious planning sessions. We often get lost in the sticky minutia, forgetting the forest.

Of course, the manner of visual (and behavioral) expression, the conceptual metaphors, the interaction model, the information architecture and navigational pathways– all that varies widely per situation and device. But deep down it’s all the same whether an advanced bandwidth monitoring tool or a financial dashboard or a social networking app  or a pro photography workflow package…for any device situation.

Realizing this should enable any bonafide UI designer to tackle any kind of digital product design challenge regardless of domain, and grapple with its intricacies more confidently.