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Detroit Labs - Design

Most people think that software development goes something like this: Have a software idea + build software = success. Although that’s part of the equation, overall software development is more nuanced. Learn the common misconceptions about software development so you can plan for success.

Common Misconceptions

There are many misconceptions about the software development process, leading to unrealistic expectations or even hesitancy. Get all the facts before embarking on a project.

It’s expensive

Custom software development must be pricey … right? The answer isn’t as clear as you might think. It certainly carries a price tag, but the end cost depends on the type of software you want to build and the complexity of its features. Prices are generally lower than you think and only get into outrageous territory when you add bells and whistles.

To balance the sticker shock, some organizations opt for out-of-the-box software instead. Although this option might be cheaper at the outset, it won’t fully meet their needs. As a result, they wind up tapping into their budget for secondary software, negating their original savings.

This goes to show that you get what you pay for. You can’t get something significantly cheaper just by working hard at finding it.

 If you build it, they will come

Your solution might solve a real problem, but simply having a piece of software doesn’t create demand for it. This is why you can’t leave strategy out of the process. Software development incorporates a variety of disciplines that all have a role in the project’s success. Researching, planning, organizing, coordinating, and designing the right user experience (UX) is required to build something that is performant, secure, reliable, and resonant with your audience.

Companies often overlook the need for professional design or strategy. Many organizations don’t have robust teams, relying on a single web designer or a few developers to design both the software and experience, and UX and user interface (UI) suffer as a result.

Here’s the rub: Solid UI and UX designs aren’t a given, and you will pay the price for it later in reviews and app store ratings. Without thorough research, an organization might build something that does X, even though people want Y. Investing in thorough UX research and strategically planning your product will position you for success.

In-house developers are better

“I’ll just hire my own developers.” For some, this might work. But more often than not, you have a wider pool to choose from externally. Besides, quality is the top priority for development companies because development is their business.

With a development company, you’re not just investing in a software build, but also their expertise. These designers and developers often have enhanced skills internal developers might not have. They pair these skills with technical processes—like sprints and reviews throughout the project lifecycle—to make an excellent product.

More developers means better outcomes

A large team doesn’t necessarily equate to a better team. Although it may seem that a larger team would work faster, the adage “too many cooks in the kitchen” holds true. Mistakes can happen, and teams can lose focus with too many hands on a project.

Adding team members mid-project can also create problems. New members start with a blank slate, so you will have to onboard them and explain project needs. As a result, development may slow or even stop, delaying the project.

All development projects are the same

Not all development projects are created equal. A piece of software can be complex or relatively simplistic. That said, many development challenges within projects are the same, so you need experienced developers to handle them.

Example: Integrating with various systems and technologies can add substantial complexity and may be critical to the success of a project.

For instance, frameworks such as Android and iOS provide a stable foundation and starting point for development, and using them is straightforward for most developers. But integrations are wildcards, as some are mature and well-supported (like Stripe), whereas others might need to be built by your development team. Integrations are the data sources that the product is built on, so that’s why experience is key.

Ultimately, every finished project will be unique, with unique requirements and ways of incorporating them. And things can change on a dime, too. Project requirements and priorities might change for any number of reasons, from shifts in the business to changes in technology. Being cognizant of these possibilities and having a team capable of adapting to them is important.

Quality assurance is optional

Is quality assurance (QA) too much? We don’t believe so. It may take some extra time, but it will improve the end product. Testing saves time on the back end if you start code reviews early and do them often.

QA experts have special skills—they understand the software, dependencies, and impacts of modules. Using their keen eyes for detail, testers catch software bugs before the product’s release and examine usability. These skills are essential, as it can be difficult to fix software problems after the product’s release.

Development is a mechanical process

All too often, clients believe that development is sending a set of directions to a coding team and telling them to build a piece of software. But development isn’t a mechanical process.

Instead, software development is about bringing forth a challenge and creating a solution. It’s much more than being told to do X, Y, and Z on a checklist. And, on an enterprise level with different moving parts and systems, there’s no cookie-cutter approach.

When development is done, it’s done

Software development isn’t one and done; it’s iterative. Inevitably, users will eventually encounter bugs that need to be fixed, and you will probably want to add new features and make new releases.
But why mess with perfection? It’s simple: You only really learn about your product and its value to your users once they’re using it. Perhaps you missed a feature users really want. Maybe how they use your software simply changes over time as their needs change. In any case, new releases make it easy to deploy updated features.

With any active software product, you’ll be revisiting it often. You never ship a software product and move on. Instead, it becomes something not dissimilar to your own child, and you monitor, manage, and support it as it grows.

Learn What Makes a Successful App or Software

So development isn’t as simple as you thought. It’s still a game-changer! Software development is a learning process for clients and providers because no two projects are alike. Don’t let cost, complexity, ongoing maintenance needs, or any other previously-held misconceptions about the process hold you back from building a killer piece of software.

Download our two-in-one worksheet and checklist on what to expect when building your app or custom software and talk to our team to get the ball rolling on your project.