When it comes to web application development, remember: Simple is deliverable.
Let’s talk web app development.
First, I need to make this crystal clear: this post is not about website development; it’s about creating a web application (or “app”) for your business. “What the heck is a web app?” you ask? Great question! A web application is a functional utility that does something more than your typical website. Let’s say you need a web-based tool that will let your sales team send prospects a follow-up package (with cool stuff like a personalized thank-you card and appropriate inventory samples for each prospect). You might build a custom web application to do just that.
Should you put together a lengthy wish list of web app features?
If you’re like most people, you dream of everything this web app could and should do. So you start writing down all the cool functionality you want. The list continues to grow…and grow…and before you know it, you’ve described the killer app that will solve every support problem any salesperson has ever encountered. Anywhere. Then you hand all your requirements to a team of web developers so they can get busy coding the darn thing.
Sounds good in theory. The stickler (as someone so eloquently put it) is, “The gap between theory and practice is not as wide in theory as it is in practice.” Meaning that the more features you have – and problems you try solve – with your “killer app” right out of the gate, the less likely you are to effectively resolve anything.
You’ve already got 99 problems, so make sure your app doesn’t become #100.
Hone in on the one most critical problem your web application is trying to solve. Then let your web developers focus on creating a working prototype that does just that. This will simplify the required programming 10 times over…and allow you to test and tweak your web app much more cheaply than if you’d spent more dough and tasked your developers to work on more stuff. Keeping it simple stupid (K.I.S.S.) ensures fewer problems and a lot less debugging. Remember: This isn’t your only version…it’s simply the first. So pare it down to the essentials before scabbing on bloated features that cause your app to run slowly – not to mention being frustratingly difficult to use, breaking down or, even worse, solving a problem that no one cares about.
The bottom line is you want to deliver the “minimum viable
product web application.” Contrary to what we think about Apple always delivering finished, near-perfect products, it’s important to remember that the Apple I (their first product) was nothing more than a motherboard. It wasn’t even a full-blown computer – just a lonely motherboard. One of its first customers added on a keyboard and nifty wooden case. A naked motherboard? Now that’s a simple deliverable.
Web application words to live by.
• Simple is deliverable. It’s also elegant, usable, understandable and highly undervalued. Keeping things simple allows everyone to understand (and agree upon) what’s being delivered with each version.
• It’s all about iteration. Forget about having just one shot to get it perfect. By keeping it simple and solving one problem to start, you can easily iterate to solve another problem. Rinse and repeat is the mantra (right after delivering the simplest version of YourAlphaWebApplication 1.0).
In upcoming posts, I’ll talk more about simple solutions, creating prototypes and TFG’s process for developing web applications. In the meantime, if you need help taking your killer web app from idea to execution, let’s chat. We’ll help formulate a plan that’s actionable, measurable, doable and deliverable. It’s what our whiz-bang web development team does best. Again and again.