Codelation is a web app development and mobile app development company based in Fargo that has helped many startups achieve their goals. Needless to say, they know a thing or two about software development. Lucky for us, they have 10 tips to share on the matter!
#1 Define a Clear Problem
Before starting the development process, it is essential to identify what problem your app will solve. The more granular and detailed the problem statement is, the more direction you and your team will have heading into development. It is essential to research the existing competition within the market so that you can understand what features you need to develop to differentiate yourself from the competition. It is also essential to research the target audience to create an app that will be attractive and useful for them.
#2 Spend Time Planning
Find a development shop that starts the development process with a thorough discovery. Make sure the process involves the most important person at this stage: YOU. The point of these early stages and meetings is to help the development team understand exactly what it is you’re trying to build. Discoveries allow for clear roadmaps to be laid out, keep you within budget, and keep development on time.
#3 Develop in Stages
Developing in stages will help you stay on track and ensure the project is manageable. Building iteratively allows for maximum creativity and keeps things moving along. That being said, even with the best plan in the world, there will always be curve balls. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to develop a minimum viable product (MVP). Once there is working software, you’ll have time to make more changes. Your project is really never “done.”
#4 Continue to Learn
Technology is constantly changing; we must adapt as we work toward the end product. It is vital to stay up-to-date on the latest development trends. Attending conferences and workshops may help you better understand new technologies and how they can be applied to your app. We must also keep our minds open to change as different technologies may no longer be available in the middle of our development. This is a great opportunity to learn something new and offer the best possible product to the end-user.
#5 Working With a Team
Building the best software takes a team. The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) gives a strong, iterative framework to development, but it demands a team of developers and other professionals to get the job done. There are many configurations for teams. At Codelation, we keep teams between five and seven people depending on the project size. There is always a project manager, a business analyst, a UI/UX designer, developers, and a quality assurance tester. Working together, each one can bring their expertise to the table and help create a successful app.
#6 Keep Communication Effective
Clear expectations are how development teams stay agile and are able to adapt. Outside of the development team mentioned above, projects may need to course-correct based on feedback from end-users or customers, a modification within the industry for which the product is being developed, or any other number of additional stakeholders’ feedback. Effective communication breeds accountability, makes new features and concepts transparent, and keeps the whole team on track to delivering a great piece of software.
#7 Automate Everything
What tasks are repetitive? There are times for manual processes, but custom software developed correctly can automate these processes and save time and money. Spending time developing automation will be a huge benefit down the line. Automate tasks that are repetitive or prone to human error. At a minimum, look into integrations for automating your deployment pipeline. Getting code up and into staging quickly saves a ton of resources.
#8 Use Frameworks and Libraries
Not everything should be built from scratch. Many times the best approach is leveraging tools like library components or integration with an off-the-shelf solution. This saves time and money by minimizing the development resources needed during that phase and using the battle-tested solution someone else has already built. The end result is the same as if it were all built from scratch: a working solution that solves the problem. Using frameworks and libraries can speed up the development process as well as reduce costs.
#9 Ask for Help
This should go without saying, but don’t forget to ask for help. With so many options in technology, languages, frameworks, and third-party libraries, it is more than okay to reach out to a peer with a blocker. At Codelation, we keep junior and senior developers paired up on projects to ensure that challenging tasks are always taken on with fresh eyes and experienced savvy. Rarely is there a situation when the entire team is blocked on the same issue. In this case, you can lean on your network outside of work to find the solution you’re looking for. To reiterate: Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
#10 Document Everything
Documenting your code is an important part of developing software, as it helps others understand how the code works and how to maintain it in the future. The documentation should include descriptions of functions, data structures, algorithms, and any assumptions. Think of this as insurance. This can minimize the need for knowledge transfers if developers need to move on and off the project. Keeping documentation upto-date is always a great way to keep code clean. Aside from clean code, documenting our work and code shows developers when it’s time to refactor. Refactoring is the process of merging bits of redundancy in the code together to keep the core functionality in order. Refactoring also helps to keep code clean. The process of refactoring takes time but pays off in the long run. When done correctly, refactoring can make the code more efficient, reduce complexities, and keep future development efficient. When done incorrectly, refactoring can create bugs that weren’t there before or break existing features. Take your time to get it right and document it.
By following these tips for developing software, you can successfully build a product that meets your customer’s or user’s needs. With effective communication and planning, automated tasks, third-party libraries, and thorough documentation, you’ll be able to develop software that meets the needs of your stakeholders and end-users.