We started our look into how custom applications are built and the step by step breakdown used to get this process moving: here. Now let’s move on to the next four steps involved in this progression.

4. Prototype:

Ok, your friends and family network have vetted your concept and they think it is worth pursuing, but you have had a difficult time telling them what it was exactly you were thinking. So let’s get it on paper and see if we can explain it to someone else. Here is a good time to start thinking about the details, but don’t get bogged down in them. It doesn’t have to look perfect, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t need to think of everything here. I have been involved with some great people who digress into the details and visuals of a prototype when it should be about the idea/concept. Get it out onto some paper and run the gauntlet of friends and family again, maybe start to think about potential customers and is there a way to reach them for some confidential input and advice. Be careful with your idea, and don’t let the cat out of the bag too soon.

5. Wireframe:

Still here? Good, now let’s do a better job of explaining this awesome idea with some basic wireframe designs. Spend a little more time here translating that chicken scratch from above into some working designs. I know I told you not to spend too much time making it look pretty above, but you gotta clean it up at some point and now is a good time to do that. When you are migrating your idea, take time to think about usage patterns, common elements, workflow, and best practices. Build on what others have done successfully and incorporate your idea into the mix. Who is your customer? What is your market? Why are you doing this? Answer these questions and identify who you need to be working with to validate your concepts and find out if you’re in the right place at the right time with the right product / service.

6. High Resolution Prototype:

Continuing the explanation path, let’s make it start to look like a finished product. Up until this point you have probably been doing all of this yourself or with a small group of people. A High Resolution Prototype can sell your idea for you. A HRP is not the product, but a working facsimile that illustrates a few workflows and usage patterns that are key pain points. You are going to use this HRP to find funding, so be sure to choose the right technology or technology partner that can work with you to develop your HRP. If this is a personal project, you are probably not getting paid to do this work. If you are working for someone else, then you need to convince them that funding this project is the right thing to do.

7. Development:

If you are here, then you are in what I call the golden zone. Many, many great ideas have been casualties in previous phases, and the fact that you are here means that you had a good idea, an idea that you were able to explain to someone else, who then thought that it was indeed a good idea. You have thought about every facet of your idea and you know it inside and out. You have crossed the great barrier of funding and you have secured a source for dollars and you are ready to begin development. Now you just need to assemble your team of developers. User Interface / User Experience – you need front end designer gurus, middleware/business systems experts, backend database gods, superstar system architects, and not to mention invaluable quality assurance specialists. Whether you plan to go it alone and expect to wear many hats or you have assembled the A-Team be sure to plan – build – test – iterate. A very simple paradigm, that allows you to see and measure progress and keep you on track. Small bites at a time, will help you reach your goal.

This series isn’t quite over yet –next come releases so check back in next week for the conclusion. It’s important to understand each step from start to finish before you dive into building your custom application. J&S can help you with all stages of this process. Contact us to discover how we can engage with your organization and help with your project from start to finish.