While brushing up my resume for a career move (hey, its been 4 years with the last startup. Its time to move on), i've gone through a humbling experience of actually understood the flow and value of each stages for web development.
The arrogant me of yesteryear always thought that the actual hands down working on the codes as the most valuable part of a project.
But, the same pattern keep repeating again and again in many of failing web dev projects that make me revisit my current understanding on web development.
And the journey was more than make me realise how fool i am.
Yep, the actual hands on coding part is valuable. But it is not more than other stages of web development.
Each stages and its corresponding expert really do put in values in the project that uptimately see the project towards it completion.
If any of project try to skip any of the stage, then the project will start to suffer from many of the problems that plague failing projects.
So, what are the stages? How do a web development project was done from start to finish? Lets go through the stage one-by-one:
This is the stage where the client has a bright moment of actualization on the idea of the website. Sadly, it is not the specific website that spark the moment but usually a pain in the market that was discovered by the client.
The pain, and subsequently 'imaginary solution' in the form of a website or an app is what the client usually refer to as 'the idea'.
This is the things that the client does not want it to be stolen from them. As they see that the idea can not be protected by any kind of measure except its obscurity.
The behaviour then introduce the first challenge in web development: to discuss the idea in a comprehensive environment to explore the many possibilities of it.
Only an experienced and trustworthy project manager (or sales engineer) can steer the discussion and having successfully lay down the foundation and the core of the idea. Client (who at the time being was only recorded as prospect) will only discuss their valuable and unprotected ideas with the person they trust or in no-risk environment.
After understand that pain (trust), then we can understand the reason why all these founders (prospect/client) so obsessed with Non-disclosure Aggreement.
2) Conception (User Experience)
3) Design (User Interface)
4) Coding (Front+Back)
6) Deployment (System Admin)
So, there you have it, the complete flow of web development:
Pre-Conception > UX > UI > Codes > Test > Deploy
As a developer previously who only concern on the coding stage, it really humbling to at last understand each expert values that they bring in into the project.
Which also make me angry (now) whenever a prospect discounting the budget that has been tabled to their own liking.
A good web development project is when the project was delivered on time and within budget. To do that, the first thing that client-developer need to agree is the value that expected from each other.
If the value expectation does not matched, then it spells disasters clearly and brightly.
Better fire the job, before the job become raging fire. :-D
... Is that it is not about creating something.
It is not about your product.
It is ultimately about your market. Or to be more specific: Market Feedback.
The result of an MVP is not a product, but a lesson.
Said lesson was derived from feedback.
Thus, make MVP to learn from feedback.
Not to fulfill your scope. Or features. Or 'This Sure Gonna Sells' idea.
MVP is nothing without feedback.
Feedback is nothing if you cannot learn from it.
... that i can offer to my clients is this: RM 870.
With 8 years of experience in web development, handling various kind of project big and micro-small, as a various position (web design, backend, database, digital marketing, scale engineer, sys admin, mobile ui, you name it!), with budget ranging from millions to none (NGO client), that is basicly the cheapest you can get.
And it is not lack of punch too!
Lets see what you will get for that price:
- Nice looking design in whatever kind of design the client want.
- Properly internally linked web structure to promote SEO and ease of use
- Search function to make it easy for visitor to look for information
- 1 year small web server capable of handling small-to-medium traffic (up to million visitor a month).
- 1 year domain name, if necessary.
How in this world can the price be so low? Well, this are the catches:
- No content and copywriting provided. Do it yourself or hire proper copywriter
- No photo session or photo editing also graphic design. Hire proper designer for that. Or just D.I.Y. according to standard web design specs. I'll give it to you
- Utilizing Web Design templates that can be bought cheaply and easily nowadays. I like themeforest! Ehem: client buy it, not me.
- Plain html website OR --->
- Wordpress based 'blog/portfolio/catalog' kind of website. No fancy plugins and functionality.
- Yep, NO ECOMMERCE.
- Limited pages, up to 5 'pages'. No worry, that is more than enough actually.
And now we can see why.
This package in a nutshell working on one simple principle:
Only Pay Me To Do Codes
Not to tinker with design.
Not to think the best graphics for the content write 3000 words for the content.
Not to handle photo session and post production for the content (again).
Not to give my codes to third grade system admin that will break the codes (and they blame my codes, not their incompetence).
It seems that there are so many limitation on what this package can do. But wait.
Lets look what is it good for --->
Essentially, this kind of package is perfect for three type of website:
For Online Presence (Company & individual). The first thing people do to verify you nowadays is by looking for you online. Take control of your online presence. Have a representative website.
For Sales Catalog. If you are selling something, might as well have it listed on your own branded website. It will increase your credibility and easier to close a sales. If you are selling service, this can easily modified to be Work Portfolio. It helps prospects decide are your kind of work really suites their needs.
- And lastly: For Validation Purposes. The best way to gauge if you can sell something or not is by having an online page for the stuff and drive traffic to it. If people try to order rabidly, then that product/service is a winner! No need to buy stocks or have a shop to validate something.
That is the power of simple & cheap website!
ps: Email me (email@example.com) if you like to discuss further.
Just small tips: if client ask you (the programmer, or project manager) this seemingly harmless question of "Can you do that?", you are basically one step away from deadly trap of workload explosion.
Because that question is the pinnacle of miss-communication in any website development projects.
The client is NOT asking if you can code the solution. He is not questioning your ability and skill to develop said features.
The question asked is not completed. The complete phrase is:
Can you deliver this within the same deadline perfectly as i imagine?
Yep, that is the real question that they ask you.
Thus, DO NOT simply reply to the asked question, but rather reply to the complete phrase above.
This make you realize that most of what they asked CAN NOT be done. Not only because that additional features is out of the budget, but also new task will need additional time.
New features = new deadline.
That is inevitable.
You the programmer will not feel bad to say no, as your ego will not be injured because the reason you say no was not your inability to solve said bugs or to develop said features, but the deadline to do so is unreasonable.
Client always have lack of understanding on how many time it needed to really deliver what they imagine.
That, plus their lack of effort in communicating what they imagine in the first place.
How many of us has heard the satanic phrase of "I'll know what i want when i see it."
That is the screaming red flag that the client is worth to do everything you can to move away from them.
May peace be with you.
Also known as: How To Startup.
Below are some of key ideas and strategy on how to build, manage and grow a startup towards an all conquering big corp with big revenue by Sam Altman.
He is the man of Y-Combinator Incubator with impressive line of successful startup. If an incubator has a Dropbox level startup is impressive enough, YC has a line of Dropbox level startup success.
Which means his writing and all is a gold!
If his writing about building a startup has been compiled and edited thoroughly like a guide book and put in one place accessible for all? It is a city of gold!
Said writing entitled Startup Playbook can be accessed here: http://playbook.samaltman.com/
And below are my personal snippets from said post:
- Your goal as a startup is to make something users love. If you do that, then you have to figure out how to get a lot more users.
- It’s much better to first make a product a small number of users love than a product that a large number of users like.
- To have a successful startup, you need: a great idea (including a great market), a great team, a great product, and great execution.
- 3 question to ask:
- What are you building?
- Why are you building it?
- Who desperately need that product?
- The first two is about the idea. It needs to:
- Clear to the founder
- Founder can communicate it clearly
- Simply great
The desperate user is about market. In the best case, you yourself are the target user. In the second best case, you understand the target user extremely well.
If a company already has users, we ask how many and how fast that number is growing. We try to figure out why it’s not growing faster, and we especially try to figure out if users really love the product. Usually this means they’re telling their friends to use the product without prompting from the company. We also ask if the company is generating revenue, and if not, why not.
If the company doesn’t yet have users, we try to figure out the minimum thing to build first to test the hypothesis—i.e., if we work backwards from the perfect experience, we try to figure out what kernel to start with.
- It’s important to let your idea evolve as you get feedback from users.
- We also ask how the company will one day be a monopoly ... Instead, we’re looking for businesses that get more powerful with scale and that are difficult to copy.
- Finally, we ask about the market. We ask how big it is today, how fast it’s growing, and why it’s going to be big in ten years.
- We greatly prefer something new to something derivative. Most really big companies start with something fundamentally new (one acceptable definition of new is 10x better.)
What if you don’t have an idea but want to start a startup? Maybe you shouldn’t. (me goes: HAHAHA!)
...So it’s better not to try too actively to force yourself to come up with startup ideas. Instead, learn about a lot of different things. Practice noticing problems, things that seem inefficient, and major technological shifts. Work on projects you find interesting. Go out of your way to hang around smart, interesting people. At some point, ideas will emerge.
And thats only on Great Idea section of his playbook. There are 3 other bigger section namely Great Team, Great Product and Great Execution.
Please take time to at least go through once his Startup Playbook write up if there is even at least a peanut of ambition in you to build a startup that one day will rule the world.
At least, we will know what we really dealing with.
We will know what we do not know yet. And that is really powerful to us to make informed decision before we even start.
And thank you very Sir Sam Altman. That is really a huge help for us fledgling fellow aspiring founders of yet to born-and-die-repeatedly startup.