5 key steps to delivering a successful web app – Step 1

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Building BlocksKND has been designing and building web applications and ‘software’ style websites for almost ten years now and we’ve experienced both spectacular success and epic failure of projects for a variety reasons. In the words of Woody Allen, “If you are not failing every now and then, you are not doing anything very innovative”, and in the world of web application development, this is so very true.

Every 6 to 12 months there are new and exciting ways to improve user experience, provide a more efficient process or add the ‘wow’ factor. So, what guarantees success? In our experience there are five key steps that will get you closer to the successful delivery of your application:

  1. Planning and Documentation
  2. Constant open communication
  3. Flexibility
  4. A balanced team
  5. Testing and Launch

Over the next few weeks we will be posting an article on each step. This article covers Step 1.

Step 1 – Planning and Documentation

“He who fails to plan, plans to fail”

The two most common questions we are asked by clients are ‘How much will it cost?’ and ‘When can we have it?’. Agreed, they are very important questions, but unless the software is completely planned, modelled and documented, we can only give very broad estimates based on past projects. It is absolutely critical that a healthy amount of time is invested in planning and documenting so we know how your application is going to work.

Focus on planning more than the deadline.

If you don’t plan, you won’t know where the finish line is. A good plan consist of …

  • A specification document that defines all aspects of the software.
    • Users and levels of security
    • Persona modelling (putting personality to each of your user groups)
    • Visual wire-frames of screens and functions
    • Function descriptions of each element – how does it work, who can access it, what triggers it and what it triggers
    • Data models
    • Definition of ‘what’s in and what’s out’ where possible
    • Hosting and security requirements including expected load
    • Finished designed mock-ups of critical components
  • Both client and developers should understand the plan completely
  • It should be the project’s backbone and keep everyone focused on common goals
  • If an element is difficult to document, then it is going to be difficult to code and difficult for your users to understand
  • Minimal complexity combined with design clarity
  • The plan must be approved and signed off by the key stakeholders

Think twice, cut once

Be aware that rushing this part of the project can easily lead to project failure, as the more complex the application the more time it takes for those designing it to consider all the different ‘scenarios ‘ or ‘exceptions’ to standard use.

In fact, in our experience you will never completely catch all, but if you can document 90-95% of cases then you are well on your way to a good plan.

Planning will identify and solve problems creatively, will save time and bring clarity to your project.

About the author

Jason Hawkins is a senior application strategist, information architect and director at KND. His knowledge is based on years of industry experience in taking online application ideas to reality across a broad range of industries.

KND are web and digital professionals with over 10 years in the business. We specialise in web, cloud and mobile apps, eMarketing and SEO strategy, servers, hosting and design. We work closely with our clients to achieve successful outcomes. Call us today (+61 7 3832 4077) or email (enquiries@knd.com.au) to discuss your next project.

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