In web development, app development, or software engineering in general, there are various tasks and requirements that need to be performed. Functional requirements, therefore, define a system or its components. If you understand the basics of IT, you will probably already know that a function is nothing but inputs, its behaviour, and outputs. There are different types of functions such as calculations, data manipulation, business processes, or any other specific functionality which defines what function a system is likely to perform.
Because functional requirements are crucial to the development and running of apps and processes, it is very easy to often forget that there are many non-functional requirements that are just as, or probably more important than functional requirements. Non-functional requirements focus mainly on the quality attributes of a software system. Once a website functionally is set, for example, non-functional requirements include factors like load time or the ability to handle a large number of simultaneous users without crashing. At Nordic Intent, we know that these non-functional requirements are what determines the success of a website, application, or software, and are just as critical as functional requirements.
Examples of non-functional requirements
There are many non-functional requirements that make for a positive and secure user experience. These include, but are not limited to the following examples:
Changing initial passwords
Users should be asked to change the login password that was initially assigned to them during the sign-up process. This should be done immediately after the first successful login. Moreover, the initial password that was either entered or provided should never be reused for the sake of safety.
Updating important information
For apps that deal with important information such as banking apps or even company portals, there is certain information that should be kept confidential, and hence not input into a system by the end-user. Information such as salary details, PAN card numbers, or banking PINs should either be routed through a systems administrator or over secure channels like ATM machines.
Unsuccessful attempts by a user to access an item of data should be recorded
We often run into situations where we are unable to access data. This could be because of an incorrect PIN or password for protected files, or due to some error in retrieving data from the database. A good non-functional requirement, in this case, would be to record these unsuccessful transactions in order to have them audited.
A website should be able to handle large numbers of users without affecting its performance
The intent for creating a great website is to get traffic. In fact, companies invest heavily in SEO and digital marketing in order to drive users to their website since it is essentially their home on the internet. With a website, companies have the opportunity to showcase their brand, products, and services, and in some cases, generate leads or even sell products online. As the online presence of a company grows, their ability to handle web traffic needs to grow as well, making this a crucial non-functional requirement. This involves maintaining a reliable uptime regardless of how many users are currently on the website at any given time.
Software should be portable across all operating systems
End users often get locked into a particular operating system due to the availability of software that is available. A lot of the times, users are not able to shift to or between different operating systems because the software they are used to using is not available on the new OS. This is just one scenario where the customer is at a loss. In other cases, end users will make the shift to a new OS, even if it means abandoning software that they used to use if they feel that the trade-off is worth it with regards to the new OS. In this case, the software developer is at a loss since they have lost a customer. In order to ensure a smooth transition and user experience between operating systems, it becomes a crucial non-functional requirement to have interoperability of software between operating systems.
The advantages of non-functional requirements
Now that we have taken a look at a few examples of non-functional requirements, let’s understand a few of the key advantages that it brings to software developers and the end-users as well.
The nonfunctional requirements ensure the software system follow legal and compliance rules.
In order to provide a flawless experience while using a particular app or software, it is important to ensure that it meets the requirements of all legal and compliance bodies. These could be state or country-based, or even app store based. Failure to comply with these regulations means that the application or software could be pulled from an app store leaving the end-user with no support. An example of this is what has happened recently with the Mitron app, a Tik Tok clone that was supposedly made in India. In this case, the app was pulled from the Google play store after 5 million downloads for violating its ‘spam and minimum functionality’ policy.
They ensure the reliability, availability, and performance of the software system
As we discussed earlier in the examples about interoperability between different operating systems, by ensuring that the app or software is available regardless of OS or mobile platform, you provide a seamless experience for the end-user. This provides customers with the flexibility to move between operating systems or platforms while maintaining the familiarity of the software or apps they enjoy using.
They ensure good user experience and ease of operating the software
This is probably the most important advantage of maintaining non-functional requirements. While many developers stress on functionality and other functional requirements in the building process, often during quality or user analysis testing, many experience issues come to fore that affect the end-user experience. Ensuring good user experience and ease of operating the software, therefore, becomes crucial.
They help in formulating security policy of the software system
By understanding the needs of the end-user, but more importantly, taking into account the safety and security of user data, app and software developers can ensure that they provide users with fruitful experience. Security policies are essential in gaining the trust of the users, and the platforms for which the apps or software is developed. Understanding these non-functional requirements goes a long way in providing great user experience.
What are your thoughts on non-functional requirements? Do you feel that they are as important as functional requirements? Let us know in the comments below.