You can do quite a lot of things to reduce the software development efforts. Thus, you are not just at the mercy of the software developer’s knowledge to decide on the efforts required to build your product. When you choose a best IT or Software developer for your development, s/he will surely come up with some of the suggestions I have given below to reduce the development efforts, but you can also do your thorough ground work and ensure that you get the Web product development done in optimum efforts.
1. Detailed Functional Specification:
After developing 125+ products/projects, we have come to a conclusion that one of the most common reasons of incurring more efforts than planned is due to ambiguous requirements or not drafting a detailed Functional specification document. An incomplete, superficial or short (bullet point) functional specification is not only going to delay the development, but also going to create a lot of unplanned or unforeseen work for the developer too.
If you spend quality time in drafting your functional specification document to the minutest details, then it helps you to visualize your product screen by screen and right up to the field level details. The same detailed functional specification document helps the developer to imagine all the programming scenarios and eventually helps in more precise effort estimation, which will not deviate too much from actual efforts. Thus, spend quality time in drafting each and every feature of your product to the minutest details.
WIRE-FRAME IS A process, which can help you imagine the “design” or “layout” of your software screens. This process helps you to think about the details you want to capture on each screen. It also helps in deciding the navigation or page flow and thus gives you an opportunity to make your software product friendlier even before it is built. Wire-frame can be done on plain papers, simply by sketching out your screens with details in it, or there are many useful and free software, which help you draw these screens/pages and navigation. Simply Google - “Wire-frame Tools” or “Online Wire-frame Software” keywords and you will get many such tools, which you can use it for free. These wire-frame tools are very user-friendly and mainly designed to be used by layman without any technical or programming knowledge.
When you have wire-frame ready for each of your screen, then it reduces a lot of efforts of the designer to design your screen/pages. It also reduces a lot of iterations between you and the designers, which would have occurred had there been no wire-frame in place to begin with. Thus, wire-frame not only will help you (even as a Non Technical Web Entrepreneur) visualize your product in greater details and help you refine your product concept, but also help to reduce the design and development cost to a great extend.
3. Database Architecture and Technical Specs:
If your detailed functional specification and wireframe are ready, then you can insist the developer to create a database architecture and write down crucial algorithms or module details as part of Technical specification document. Like detailed functional specs and wireframe help a product owner visualize his product, similarly Database Architecture and Technical Specification document enables the developer to technically visualize your product.
This step can identify many gray areas and help the developer and yourself foresee any technical hurdles in the way and plan and prepare for it. While developing your Business on Internet, many Web Entrepreneurs/Product owners or even software developers skip this step and directly jump to the programming, which can turn out to be a mistake as you will need to keep on revisiting and changing your project architecture more often and in an haphazard way. This will not only delay your product development but also make it technically unstable and unmaintainable and incur more efforts and cost at a later stage.
4. Ready-made User Interfaces or Themes:
While doing the web product development, it needs a “theme” or “user interface”, and it takes a lot of efforts to visualize and create a user-friendly, modern, and responsive theme (adjusting to all devices like mobile etc) for your product. You can simply cut-down on this efforts by selecting a ready to use User Interface (UI) Library or themes available at a very low cost. Normally these themes are very well designed, intuitive and well supported libraries which cover broad spectrum of web elements. If you have designed your wireframe already, then it will become very easy for you to select a most suitable theme for the product.
This way, you can do away with custom web designing efforts and directly give a ready-to-use theme to your web developer who can simply integrate it to your needs. To find a suitable theme you can visit many Theme selling websites or simply Google “ready made website themes” or “ready made admin - full featured admin theme” keywords and you will find marketplaces selling such theme at a fraction of a cost.
5. Ready-to-use Open Source Scripts or Plugins:
If you have followed the step of creating detailed technical specification document as mentioned above, then you will identify a few common modules, which can be reused either from an open source community over Internet or your web developer may have such a module already available with him/her. In every software / web products there are some very common modules like - Login, Registration, Forgot Password, Content Management System (CMS), Contact Us forms, emailing features and so on. Depending upon which technology / framework you choose to develop your product, you can search for the ready made scripts for these modules in the chosen framework community and reuse them and if required customize them if you have any particular requirements around it. This will help reduce the development efforts and cost considerably.
6. Third-party ready-to-use tools / widgets or API:
When you write a detailed functional specification document, you will identify many modules, which look very big but are also very common across many existing software / websites. For example - a Booking Calendar, Rich Text Editor, File upload controls, PDF creators, Image Cropping, Drag and Drop feature and so on. Instead of developing these features from scratch if you conduct a basic research on Internet to find if there are any third-party, ready-made web-services available, then that can be integrated with your website. This will avoid any custom web or software development required for that web service and thus it can reduce the development efforts to a great deal. These third party tools or web services, are available in the form of API or downloadable scripts, which your web developer can integrate in your application. These are available either free or a small one time or monthly recurring cost, but this is certainly very low than developing your own module. Using such ready made tools, Scripts, APIs or Plugins not only reduce the development time, but also eventually reduce the testing efforts as these tools or scripts are already very well tested and supported.
I hope above tips may help you reduce your web development cost and will help you plan and have better control over your web product development activities.