An App Developer that cannot Code!

By on April 24, 2014
developer-who-cant-code

Hi,

I am the developer of software who cannot write code. It’s not strictly true as many years ago I did write in a code called COBOL (yes I am a dinosaur).

However, I can honestly tell you that I am developing code now and I am not writing a line of code.

What i am doing is deciding on how I want my software to look and also it’s functionality. I then pay a programmer to write my software as per my requirements. Don’t worry, this is not as expensive as it sounds and it should also make you consider the commercial implications of developing software, ie. how are you going to monetise your software.

So, how do I do this?

What Functionality Do You Want Your Software To Have?

I find that if you are concentrating on developing software, then the best option is for you to look at what’s out there already.

So for example, I have developed some visitor management software.

This was my process:-

Based on my development platform (in this case iPad and Android tablet).

  • Look at any existing software
  • Go to their support area and look at issues that users were facing with the software
  • Lookup on Google terms such as ‘name of software’ plus ‘error’ or ‘problem’ etc
  • Make a list of all the features that you thought were good in your competitors software
  • Make a list of all features you thought were bad
  • Make a list of all features you thought was missing from your competitor’s products
  • Also pay attention to how the software is paid for and what pricing level it’s at

With this list in hand, go ahead and make a final list of what you believe would be the final features you would like your software to have and the approx software cost.

Ok, so now you have a list of the functionality requirements.

Don’t Be Scared — Now it’s time to design your software

Sound pretty daunting eh? Especially if you’ve never designed anything and you don’t even have the technical prowess to put up a pair of curtains (that will stay up for longer than a week). Yes, I’m talking about myself.

So, this is what I do.

By now, I know the functionality of what I want my software to do and I know what information I will require to achieve the functionality. For example, I knew on the visitor management system that I needed to capture certain information such as Firstname, Lastname, Company, Vehicle Reg / License Plate, Who Visiting etc.

I then took this information and drew it on a piece of paper, It can be fairly rough. The great thing with paper is that initially it does not have to be completely neat but just get the details about what information is required. You can also annotate a piece of information (or a ‘field’ as it is known in the software industry).

I started off with paper and then scanned it to give me the electronic version.

As I began designing more and more screens, I then moved onto using ‘Paint’ which is quite easy to use to draw text boxes, place images and annotate the design. ‘Paint’ should be on most PC’s. If you are on a Mac, you can download Gimp. I will not go into tutorials about this software in this article. You can find loads of tutorials and resources to learn these by searching the internet.

Once you have sketched out all your screens for the software. You now have the details of the screens and the functionality list.

You are now ready to start getting your software developed.

So armed with your scanned in (electronic versions) of your screen design and your functionality list, you need to find yourself a programmer.

Now it’s time to pay. However, this will be considerably less than you would expect.

You can go to websites like odesk.com or elance.com. You need to register on these sites as a developer (it’s free). You can then post a job and wait for responses.

You will be amazed, within a few hours you will get programmers from all over the world competing to develop your software at a very competitive rate.

Much of my software which would have cost me a lot of money to get developed in my own country can be developed with similar or sometimes even better quality for a fraction of the cost.

I personally prefer programmers from India as generally, I find they are very technically competent, speak good English and can offer constructive advice on my designs.

Selecting A Programmer.

Usually, I get 30-40 responses from programmers when I post a job. Some of them are ludicrously pricey and some are so low that you cannot contain your excitement.

Cheap in not always better. As an example over a year ago, I developed an App to go on Android and iOS phones that would allow a chain of salons to communicate with their customers and book appointments and subscribe to offers.

When launched, the app worked ok but as the users grew, we started noticing problems. particularly with the notification side as the user base had grown to several thousand. I could not get any help in fixing this, apparently the programmer had been involved in a car crash and then they lost touch with him.

I am still working on glitches on this today so whilst it was cheap at the time, it has culminated in me having to spend more money to resolve issues and has not been a great customer experience. Luckily the guy I developed it for is a friend and it was my first app.

So back to the sites for finding programmers, look at price but also try to look at reviews of work and their star rating. Each site has a different system.

I will create a list of sites in the resources where you can find good quality programmers to get your software written and developed.

I know it’s daunting but you have to ‘pull the trigger’ at some point. Interview your potential programmers. Use tools like Skype and email to discuss. You can go local or you can use programmers in other countries.

Main attributes that you are looking for is responsiveness in your initial enquiries and the examples of their portfolios are exceptional. Also that they are willing to give you names of people they have worked for in the past.

Once you have decided, fix your price and timeline. Don’t do what I did and pay just over $1000 to develop an app and then let the timeline slide so that an 8 week project turning into a 9 month one.

These sites also allow you to setup the job in a series of stages. For example you could have a $1000 project that has the following stages.

  1. Project Kickoff 20%
  2. Wireframe Design 20% (This is designing your screens)
  3. HTML Development 20% (This is turning the screen designs into webpages)
  4. Setup of website and payment facilities 20%
  5. Beta Release of Website 10% (This is the stage where you test everything and make sure it behaves as you want it to)
  6. Final release with 3 months support 10%

Please note, on number 6, I always like to try and build three months support into the cost in case we have any issues with the software.

Each of these stages can be paid into an account that is only available to the programmer once you are satisfied that a stage has been met. Usually, you will pay 10-20% upfront to start project. This is not always the case though.

Select carefully and then pull that trigger. Do it!!!!!!!!

Managing Your Software Development

Things you need to remember.

  • Keep on top of date deadlines
  • Maintain regular communication and reprimand if there is any slip in communications.
  • Thoroughly test any software that you are given at each stage and make sure it complies with your functionality and design
  • You can also use friends and family to test and get feedback
  • Only sign off a stage if you are completely satisfied that the particular stage requirements have been met

Launching Your Software

In terms of marketing your software, this is a whole other article to cover the various different methods to get your software out there. However, having developed your software, look at the following to develop your marketing literature.

  • Which market is your software targeted towards?
  • What problems are you solving for them?
  • What processes are you speeding up for them?

If you can answer these three questions, this will form the basis for your software marketing page and leaflet.

I suggest that in the development, you include a webpage for showcasing your product and also build a pdf based on this page that you can send to your potential target users.

Conclusion

I know this article has skimmed some fairly large chunks of the software development process. If you feel like we need to cover something in depth or you would like to know other stuff about the process or even if you think we are just completely wrong in what we have said, please do not hesitate to let us know by emailing letusknow@appguv.com

Come back regularly to www.appguv.com for more articles on getting your software company rolling. :-)

Thanks for reading.

 

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