Planning a Successful Application/Website

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There is no doubt in everyone’s mind that social media has changed the face of the Internet.  It has changed the face of applications.. period.  For an application to be successful the programmers need to write code that not only functions quickly and without bugs but also with a super-intuitive-like flow.  To do so you need a plan.  

I’m going to walk you through the basics of what a plan should include when you are creating a new website or application.  This foundation can be applied to almost anything you do in life however.

Step 1: Map out where you are and where you are heading

To begin, you need a road map. The president of my current company is nuts for flowcharts and quite honestly is the “flowchart king”.  Truth be told, flowcharts are effective.  By using a flowchart  you are basically creating the a skeleton for what you are trying to accomplish.  Map it out and update the map as you go.

Step 2: Create the business rules

Business rules are crucial in developing a new application.  If you nail down the road map (flowchart) and the business rules you will quite honestly be able to get almost any programmer to develop your website or application for you.  Programming is programming.  Yes, there are different means for accomplishing the same thing but it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that you have  directions and the rules of the road.

A business rule is basically what happens at each element in your flowchart.  For example, the Login screen, if the user gets his password wrong 5 times do you lock him out and automatically reset his password?  or do you allow him to continue to try and successfully login?  Do you ask for a security pass phrase after they have logged in successfully?

The business rules don’t have to be extreme and down to the nitty-gritty but you should have a good solid “main” high-level set of rules in place.

Step 3: Create mock-up screen shots based on your map and business rules

For each step in your road map that the end-user (the people that will ultimately use your application or website) will interact with create a mock-up screen shot.  Don’t worry about it looking perfect. Matter of fact, it doesn’t even have to be on the computer.  You can scratch your ideas on a piece of paper.  The idea is to get the elements on the page so that the developers know what object they have to work with.

Again, the road map and business rules will dictate most of this BUT what you scribble out for the developer will be extremely helpful in getting an idea for what you really want.

 Step 4: Develop your Beta version 

You don’t really need a beta version but you do need to put your plans into place and build it.  At this stage it is time to develop.  Work with your programmers and have them build your brain-child.  It will be exciting and possibly, no, probably very frustrating unless you are really skilled at communicating with programmers.  Keep in mind that programmers are very literal.  Make sure they understand exactly what you are looking for.. literally.

Step 5: Test, Test, Test

Test the application.  Have a variety of users with different computer skill levels test your app.  You can even have a usability group test it if you want.  If you do use usability and user experience testers make sure you get a full detailed report along with screen shots.

Step 6: Update the application with the changes

This step basically takes your testing results and applies them to your flowchart, business rules and application.  Make sure you do a full test on the application after the changes have been applied as well.

Conclusion

These are some basic steps you can take to simplifying a successful application development process.  Feel free to add steps and tweak it to fit your specific needs.

Craig Kelley

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Craig is the author of How to Get Out of Debt and an avid blogger. He strives to help people maximize their time and succeed financially as well as personally. He has been a leader in several start-up companies including Mokumax Virtual Domains & Servers, Inc. and currently HealthcareSupplyChain. Read more...

2 responses to Planning a Successful Application/Website

  1. Hi Craig. I just came across your site. Neat to see you are a Christian 🙂
    I’m one of the co-founders of TeamGantt and we did a lot of usability testing with http://www.UserTesting.com. We learned a ton from that.

    Also not sure if you follow the LeanStartup stuff, but that is super helpful too. So much can be learned from talking to potential customers. It really helps avoid going down the wrong road and wasting time and money on something people may not want.

    Great blog! Keep up the good work 🙂

    • Hi Nathan,

      Thanks for the comment and suggestions! This is a brand new look for the 5minaday blog and is really still a work “in progress”. User testing is on the to-do list!

      Make it a great day,
      Craig

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