Custom Software Solutions - Initial Designs

Custom Software Solutions - Initial Designs

You have conceptualized an idea, you then prototyped it and received feedback. You completed a detailed wireframe and the concept is beginning to gel.  Now you are ready to begin designing your software application. So, why can’t you just start here? You have a great idea and why waste all that time going through prototyping and wireframe design when I can just get into the process and do something that won’t be thrown away at the end. Well you could, and believe me a lot of individuals and companies do just that. With rapid application development tools and slick agile software development methodologies you think you could just skip ahead and jump right into software application design.

Well you couldn’t be more wrong, and here is why: if you have read the previous descriptions of those stages, you would understand that the time and effort involved with making changes in those steps is much more cost effective. Taking the time to do a proper software design means that making changes at this stage will be very time consuming. It is sort of like deciding to move a wall or add an electrical outlet to an existing wall after everything has been sanded, taped, painted cleaned up and all the furniture has been moved it. Yes, you can do it, but at what cost? Typically at this stage, making sweeping changes to an untested design can set a project back weeks or even months. By this time, you should already have had customers looking at the outputs from the previous steps and you now have a good understanding of their needs and wants. What you are doing now at this stage is picking out the color of the paint, the style of carpet, the type of window treatments and the kind of furniture you want in your house. If you are still thinking about usage, features, and functionality –then you shouldn’t be here yet!

Team: At this stage, you should have front-end developers / designers and graphic artists engaging on the project. Their exposure and experience with the designs will be key when transitioning into the development phase. Business Analysts should be involved here to ensure requirements are being met and a consistent experience is being established. Try to engage with people within your organization that have good domain experience, not necessarily software development experience.

Step 1: Establishing / Following Established Best Practices – Your organization has a best practices / usage guidelines documentation right? If not, then there is no time like the present to develop them.  All custom software applications that your organization creates must have a similar look / feel to them. Start with the menus, make sure that they are consistent between applications. Do you remember when Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint went through a transition period where they tried to bring the menu structures in alignment? That was not only painful for them, but for all of their users.  So, make sure you do this up front with your first custom application and when you build the next one, this step will be easier. Common elements that may be shared between applications should be designed to be shared. These are typically things like persons, products, locations, specialized / unique items, etc. Also, similar type elements that may be reused within the application should be designed to be reused. These are typically things like calendars, drop down lists, multiple choices items, etc. Finally, creating the right overall look / feel for your custom software application is key. People who are familiar with one of your products should be able to look at any of your products and know that this is one of yours. Think about Microsoft Office Applications, you can tell an MSOffice application a mile away because of the unique look of the Ribbon Bar.

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  • 21 May 2013
  • Author: James Nagy
  • Number of views: 3098
James Nagy

James NagyJames Nagy

Need a consultant today? How can I help? As Co-Founder and Managing Partner of J&S Tech Designs I have nearly three decades of experience and expertise to share with you to help your business, product, or idea thrive. If you like this article, please sign up in the “stay informed” section!

Other posts by James Nagy

Full biography

Full biography

James Nagy is managing partner and co-founder of J&S Tech Designs - a business consulting organization that specializes in providing software and website design, development, and management expertise to organizations. He is also Managing Director and one of four co-founders of Sprocket Websites, Inc. and Chief Executive Office and one of four co-founding members of Clinical Collaboration Software, LLC.

James has over twenty-five years of experience in the information technology field, spending twenty years in software development, sixteen years in executive management and the last six years as a serial entrepreneur launching and running several successful technology organizations.

Throughout his career he has led companies, divisions, departments and teams to successful outcomes. He has executed process reengineering within organizations that were struggling to produce. He has provided strategic vision and organization planning in situations that needed direction. He has built complex systems in several unique marketplaces that required thorough knowledge and expertise to be successful. It is his passion for excellence and desire for success that has enabled him to meet the challenges presented and continue to exceed expectations.

James’ passion for delivering innovative solutions and creative strategies enabled him to develop strong business foundations for long-term success. He is an active member of the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, the North of the River Chamber of Commerce and the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce where he served on several teams, advisory committees, and legislative groups. He is a founding member of the Chicago Area DotNetNuke Users Group that has held several large, successful Website design and development events. James has donated time, money and expertise to many volunteer, fundraising and charitable organizations like KidsMatter of Naperville, The Naperville Film Festival, Summer Place Theatre, TEDxNaperville, Neuqua Valley High School Senior Spectacular and many others.

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