Custom web applications make your business accessible and portable, any where and on any device. So you can be just as productive at a client meeting or getting coffee as you are at your desk. When you find yourself in a need of a custom web application, here are a few things to consider for building a custom web application.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
We recommend researching and reviewing “software-as-a-service” (SAAS) or “off-the-shelf” based solutions that could meet your business needs. If there is a solution that meets all of your business requirements and has positive reviews in the industry, then it might be easy enough to work with that tool. However oftentimes, packaged tools do not meet every specific business need. Some tools are ideal for specific company sizes, budgets, technical compatibilities, etc.
A custom web application will be able address all of your unique requirements. We help our clients research existing products and then decide if completely customizing a tool is the best solution or if supplementing an existing tool will work. Sometimes leveraging the features of an existing product and integrating different functions, such as analytics, calendars and cloud storage can be done without having to build it from the ground up.
Design a device-agnostic web application
Use a development framework to build your web application
A development framework offers an organized approach to configure your web application in terms of security, database communication and business process implementation. We like CakePHP because it helps us to efficiently maintain and organize our codebase. Frameworks provide easy-to-read code in an organized structure, which in turn, allows your web applications to be easily mangeable and extensible.
Focus on planning
Planning is arguably the most challenging phase of the development process. This is where you actually try to envision the end product. Planning each module, workflow and function systematically lays the groundwork for a strong project foundation. Using collaborative and visual communication tools are very helpful during this phase. We use Lucidcharts to help us design workflows and Balsamiq Mockups to build wireframes. Both these tools are ideal for collaboration and it encourages our clients to be fully engaged throughout the entire process.
Adopt an effective project management and communication system
Projects generally have many cross-functional contributors – a project manager, business users, developers, testers, etc. – working together at different points of the project life cycle. It's important to find a project management system or tool that all of the team members will work with throughout the project. An effective project management system ensures that the project consistently moves forward, with very few (hopefully no) impediments so that the application will launch on time and on budget.