October 25, 2011
Category: App Development
InspiringApps believes that the key to a successful software project is to listen to your business goals and the needs of your users—both spoken and unspoken—to recommend a solution that not only meets the short-term target but also looks to the long-term benefit. We aren’t “process-heavy” but we have learned a few tricks over the years that consistently delight our customers.
Whether we work together in a more agile way on a time and materials basis, or if you need a fixed bid for planning sake, we recommend this general path for your project. And since every project is different, we’re not stuck on one methodology. It is in our best interest to serve the project in your best interest.
The typical project stages detailed below are not mutually exclusive. That is, even during development we recognize that there still may be some discovery occurring. Or that during design, we might actually be doing a bit of development to test out a theory. This is a healthy and realistic expectation going into a project.
Discovery is a collaborative conversation where we learn about your goals and contribute our insight into how best to accomplish those goals. We discuss, for example, what problems you’d like to solve or efficiencies you’d like to gain or what market need you’d like to address. We document these findings in a requirements document that informs the creation of annotated wireframes.
Wireframes are a tangible, visual medium that enable us to rapidly prototype the vision. They focus on functionality and business logic and intentionally avoid discussions around graphic design (colors, button treatment, etc). Wireframes are often shopped around to key stakeholders and user proxies for feedback and buy-in.
Despite the awesomeness of the work we’ve collectively done together during discovery, we recognize that the only constant is change. We embrace these opportunities by accounting for some flexibility in our project timelines and budgets.
Do I Need Discovery?
Overall, discovery is meant to aid in setting expectations for everyone at the table: that what we’re building is what you want (and need) and that it is all done within a budget and timeline that suits you.
Discovery output examples:
• Requirements documentation
• Annotated wireframes (also known as a semi-clickable prototype)
• Workflow diagrams
• User matrix
• Budget and timeline estimate
There are two parallel tracks that occur during design: technical design and graphic design.
Technical design is work done by software engineers and database architects. We plan the database schema and produce items like the entity relationship diagram and object model, as applicable. Depending on the make-up of your internal staff, this work can be supplied to you for audit and feedback.
Graphic design is the look-and-feel exploration. In this stage, we focus on colors, branding, and further audit the usability discussed during the wireframes creation. Graphic design is much more than a “pretty skin” — it also greatly enhances the user experience and emotional connection to an application. InspiringApps takes great pride in creating masterpieces in that regard.
Design output examples:
• Database schema and Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD)
• Object model
• Graphic design mock-ups
• Style guide
The development stage is where we build, build, build. But we don’t go away into a cave and emerge months later with a finished product. We stay in communication with you and put out frequent, incremental builds so that you can see how the project is evolving, whether we’re on track to meet our goals, and that the project is coming to life as we’ve envisioned it. This level of transparency not only ensures issues are caught earlier than later, but also allows you to continue your marketing to key stakeholders and users. Soliciting feedback early and often increases the likelihood of success for all of us. It also enables you to be more nimble should the market, your customer, or your goal change mid-stream.
We strive for quality code delivery and employ unit testing where it makes sense to do so. This means that all of our testers have less work to do. It also means that if issues do arise, we can vet the fixes more thoroughly before offering up a build for re-test. And as features come online, we employ quality control practices that focus on functional testing so that the acceptance testing you are focused on is more in line with your subject matter expertise.
• Iterative releases for frequent review and feedback
• Quality control testing
• Production-ready build
Once we have a build that you feel is ready for a wider audience, we’ll assist you to make sure the launch is a smooth one. Whether you have a web application or a mobile application, we’ll make sure you have separate environments so progress on your product can continue while simultaneously pushing out stable production builds to the larger group. And if you want to go to the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace, we can help you navigate those streams.
AFTER THE PROJECT
InspiringApps is interested in long-term relationships. For our custom services projects, our reputation is built not only on the end product we deliver for you, but on the quality of your experience during the entire life-cycle of the project. It is our pursuit to continue that quality of care even after we’ve shipped your product.
We also recommend setting aside 15% – 25% of the original project budget on an annual basis for on-going enhancements and maintenance. Once your software is out “in the wild”, your users will inevitably have feature requests and you may come across ideas for a better experience. Accounting for that early on will mean you have the flexibility to adapt and evolve.
To summarize it all, InspiringApps is focused on progressive elaboration through incremental iterations and transparency. We have garnered a reputation for honest, smart, and high quality deliverables, and just as importantly, on creating an enjoyable and exciting software development experience. And shouldn’t this cutting edge work be fun?
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