To succeed in any venture you undertake whether it is a proposal, presentation, system, application, spreadsheet, or anything else you must focus on how it will be perceived when you are not in the room. Is it understandable? Can someone pick it up and understand it in 30 seconds? 5 minutes? An hour? Or maybe it’s like Microsoft’s ribbon and it angers people for a couple of weeks before they realize they could never go back to the old menu system?
The users are the key. Sales people don’t understand them. Designers often don’t understand them. Users don’t understand themselves. It’s a magical middle ground where understanding is a mystical achievement. But it can be done.
How can you achieve this understanding? Focus on them so passionately that you become the most critical, needy and vocal user yourself. Get your colleagues to become key users. Get deep into the guts of whatever it is you are using and get out of the weeds while also not living at 50k feet where you can’t understand the details. Know the slang and language of your users. Be them.
The other option is to be just another developer who takes orders and simply builds whatever it is you are asked to build. You are allowed to not care but that also means that you are not likely to succeed. No one is going to care. No one is going to reward you for your effort. Just doing the work and taking orders is not how to succeed.