What does every web developer wish their clients knew? What should you know before coming to a vendor with an app concept?

That question was answered on April 6, 2017. Jeff Bristol, owner of Rocket Jones, and Brian Lackey, owner of Outdoor Interactive and a Rocket Jones client, were invited to a panel for Loveland Startup Week. They were joined by Lindsay Hohn, president of Radial Development Group, and Clint Bounds, owner of Plan to Eat and client of Radial.

When Jeff and Lindsay were asked what they wished clients knew before coming to developers with projects, they answered with three main points.

Design and Development Are Different

“Developers don’t do everything,” answered Lindsay Hohn.

Developers are not product designers or product developers. We’re not user experience experts. Creating an app is much more than just writing code. A lot of work goes into an app before a line of code is written. Ideally, you’d come to a developer with more than an idea or concept. If you have a defined product specifications document, some market research, and a design concept, we’ll be able to do much more for you. Some development firms may offer some design and research services as well as the programming, but often they partner with or refer to other expert organizations to fill your need. It is not critically important to find a development shop that offers all of the services you need, but it is important to know that you’ll need a spectrum of services.

Your Long-Term Plan

“You need to think about technical support, updates, and changing frameworks,” answered Jeff Bristol.

Too often, clients focus completely on launching the app, without giving sufficient thought and planning to the app’s lifecycle. That would be like launching a spaceship without planning for re-entry. Launch is only the beginning of an app’s life; it will need to be maintained and supported like any other kind of product. Programming frameworks change over time, which means your app will need to be updated as well. And as your app and business grows, you may want to add new features or change existing functionality. Plus, nobody wants to think about it, but what if something goes wrong? Do you have a technical support plan in place with your developer? Even the best software developers can’t foresee every possible scenario, so it’s important to have a plan in place in case something does unexpectedly break.

 How to Find a Good Developer

“You need more than just the lowest bid on a project. Stay away from lowball cost.” —Jeff Bristol

You get what you pay for, so lowball cost can be a red flag. As you’re planning your app project, define your priorities besides just cost. What do you need in terms of communication, quality, scope of services, service and support, and timeline? Don’t discount the value of good communication and friendly rapport with your developer. Both Brian Lackey and Clint Bounds emphasized how much they appreciate having local developers who grasp their visions. Both business owners stated that they feel like they’ve established a working partnership with their developers.

Your web developer wishes you knew all this, but most importantly, they want you to know that your success is their success. At least for Rocket Jones, we get a kick out of seeing our clients do amazing things with software. It’s the best part of our job!

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