We live in a digital world, where almost everything you can think of is accessible with just a few clicks on your browser. Have you ever wondered how the web applications you frequent on a daily (or weekly) basis came about?
What is a web application, you ask? In simple terms, a web app is an application program that utilizes web technology and browsers to carry out tasks over an internet connection. Every custom web app needs a well-structured development process to ensure a seamless user experience.
How Does the Custom Web App Process Work?
Let’s start with the main goals:
- Deliver a valuable app to users.
- Meet the organization’s goals.
- Delivered on time and on budget.
When choosing a software development company, you’ll want to make sure these are the main goals that are talked about from the start and the effects that a custom web app could have on your business. That leads us to step 1 of the process!
STEP 1: Identify the organizational goals that this custom web app is going to address.
This custom web app has a purpose beyond just the app itself. There are organizational goals and growth that this app should help create. This is where everything should begin!
Almost everyone who sets out to create a custom web app or software finds the idea both interesting and useful, but the real question should be:
How does it align with my organization’s needs?
Business goals should always be top of mind as well as being referenced throughout the process to keep you focused on building software that will ultimately help your business succeed.
STEP 2: Create a roadmap and wireframes.
It’s important to have a plan, but always be open and ready to change your plan if, more like when, you learn something new. The project roadmap you create should look something like this:
- High level, long term outline of groups of features, grouped into phases and key milestones.
- Then, a more detailed plan of the first (next) phase of work. If you’re creating brand new software, some people call this MVP.
- If you’re looking to improve existing software, it is the next phase of enhancements.
It’s important to describe the features of a software product to ensure you are capturing the right requirements, however, words on a page are often not enough. You could picture the feature implemented one way, and someone else could see it another. Wireframes help visually describe the features to help all stakeholders see the vision for the features.
- These low fidelity tools are part of a user-based design process that helps make rapid changes easier and ensure the final solution will be a good fit.
- By implementing a solid wireframe, you can layout a visual guide that showcases the web apps skeletal framework – like a digital blueprint.
STEP 3: Start iterative design and development.
Working in weekly iterations or “sprints” helps the project stay on track and gives you greater access to what’s happening. It also allows the product to continue to deliver value to stakeholders and users. You don’t have to wait until every single feature is done to start gleaning the benefits. Even more so, this type of workflow allows flexibility and change in priorities if needed.
An example of a weekly sprint would be:
- Demo of completed work.
- Review and planning of the work that will be prioritized for the upcoming iteration.
- Requirements and Design review of upcoming work
- Weekly status meeting to keep key stakeholders informed of progress
You also want to make sure your software development team is holding to 4 important aspects of iterative development as well which include:
- Continuous testing
- Review environments
- Exception and availability monitoring
STEP 5: Plan for the future.
There are a few things to think about when planning for your custom app’s future.
You may decide that you want to continue to implement new features. As development nears the end of one phase, the planning process of the next phase should begin.
You may also decide to take a break from adding features for a time to collect feedback and test performance. During this time, it is important to support and maintain the application to ensure it stays up to date and functioning well for the people using it.