What’s the right approach in building a web application that’s capable of working in your desktop, laptop or mobile? It’s the $64,000 question for any business wanting a professional solution reflecting what it believes it’s customers want to know about it.
How do you get a balanced solution?
Careful planning for the content, the process flows, functionality and finally the look and feel. In architectural terms – form and function. Luckily there’s probably less compromise needed between the two elements when compared to a building.
Just remember typically the more function or unique style you want the costs increase exponentially. At a recent conference I attended it was said that the first 80% of the functionality can be achieved quickly using the “out of the box” functions. The remaining 20% of the functionality made unique for you is 80% of the cost and time. It will also be the most costly to support after the project has gone live.
When planning and budgeting your project. Keep this in mind. Also consider that business needs change quickly and so your web development should also be flexible. Flexible with the functionality and in the way you deal with the agency/development house. You can of course have a fixed price contract and a formal signed off requirements, but in the time it takes to deliver – a larger project your needs my well have changed. You get a fixed cost but you don’t necessarily get what you need.
Other commercial approaches maybe applicable to ensure you get what is required in appropriate timeframes, use hybrid methodologies or agile and waterfall and invest some effort from the business in the project, be part of the development and review team. Don’t just throw the project over the wall and wait for it to get thrown back over once the developer is done with it. A recipe for disaster.
Take ownership and participate from beginning to end. Build it incrementally, use agile as a development method.
If you leave the site to a developer without input there is a strong likelihood you won’t get what you thought our anticipated. Be strong and insist on participating. Most development houses will appreciate it.
This prototyping approach requires a good platform to base the implementation upon. There are many to choose from: a range of open source solutions; WordPress, Joomla, SilverStripe and Drupal to name just a few; alternatively .Net is a licensed solution too consider.
From my experience the most cost effective and flexible is Drupal but each platform has its own benefits and disadvantages. The cost of ownership (TCO) should be considered carefully. There are so many considerations when looking at the TCO:
- Annual Licensing
- Ongoing customizations
- Housing and other infrastructure requirements
- People costs
- Platform flexibility
- Ability to interconnect to other systems
- Need for trained specialist staff
We can help resolving the complexity in designing, developing, deploying and support your desired system. This is only part of the solution and we will discuss this further.