From the small business looking to improve its business processes to multinational corporations that need to manage important data and transactions, a growing number of companies are building their own web applications.
The benefits are countless, but so too are the potential risks and costs. Software development, after all, is a tricky business, and for companies that aren’t in the business of developing software, building a web application can be very difficult.
Here are five tips for making the undertaking more cost-effective.
Invest in a spec.
Writing a good specification has a cost and it isn’t always easy. For these reasons and more it’s easy to ‘skip the spec’ and jump right to development. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t productive, as the lack of a spec makes it much more difficult for your developer(s) to ‘get it right’ the first time.
Use a framework.
When in the hands of an experienced developer, a development framework can reduce the amount of code that needs to be written, promote code reuse, encourage cleaner code, and implement the proper separation of the data, presentation and logic layers. These can produce immediate cost savings. But the cost-saving advantages of using a framework are long-lasting too: an application built with a framework is generally easier to maintain, and ownership of it can usually be transferred to another developer or team far more easily.
Buy a template.
A good web application is a usable web application. Therefore it’s not wise to skimp on a design. But not skimping on design doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel either. If you’re building an administrative tool, for instance, there are plenty of quality administrative templates that can be purchased at low cost from sites like ThemeForest. Where such templates are viable, potentially thousands of dollars can be shaved from development costs.
Don’t bring on too many developers.
When building a web application, many companies assume that the more developers they have on the project, the faster it will be developed. For large projects, this assumption may not be incorrect. But for most projects, the reality is that more developers can slow the process, in turn making the application more expensive to develop.
Don’t put it all on the developer.
Some web applications can reasonably be built from start to finish by a single developer. But others, which are more complex, may require work that a developer isn’t best capable of handling. Instead of asking for a developer to be a jack of all trades, consider what other roles (project management, DBA, UI designer, etc.) may be required.