When starting work on a new project with a web development company, it’s important to communicate your ideas in the clearest way possible.
Although web development consultants can help you build your vision and strategy, you need to be the main source of information on your customers, business model, and budget. To make sure you’re fully prepared to engage your development team and begin talks about your next project, answer the following fourteen questions.
1. Do you have a project description?
Before work can begin on your project, it must be properly defined. There are three main scenarios in this situation.
In the first one, you’re working with only an idea. But even an idea should be put to paper (or digital files) in the form of a project brief or documentation. Doing so will help you keep track of your requirements for the project, and the resulting description will be of great help to your web development team for estimating project scope and costs.
In scenario two, you already have an existing project.
If so, it should have documentation in a form that you’ll be willing to share. If there’s a live version online, consider whether you’re willing to share access to it as well. Ask yourself the same question about access to your app’s code.
Allowing your development team to have a close look at existing code may be necessary, but sometimes you’ll have an internal team working on part of the app (e.g. the backend). In the latter case, sharing everything isn’t a requirement, but it might still be advantageous. Your team will have an easier time working on a project they fully understand.
Finally, in scenario three, you have a demo or an MVP version of your project already built, and now you’re ready to begin work on the full app.
Is your MVP or demo interactive? Is it live and available to real users?
Letting your team see it will allow them to better understand your project. Whether you have an interactive MVP or not, make sure to prepare a detailed project description of the final version of your app.
Communicating what you want to achieve is the first step to web development success.
2. Do you have a technology stack selected?
First, answer the big questions:
- Will you need both the backend and the frontend for your app?
- What about your mobile users?
- Do you intend to build a native app, a Progressive Web App, or use mobile-friendly design for your web app?
Once you have that covered, consider the technologies you’ve chosen for your stack. What motivated those choices? If your future team offers stack recommendations, will you be willing to consider them?
Remember that a web development company has a lot of experience with building various types of apps. They’ve likely used many different languages and frameworks, and can help you choose the best tools for your specific situation.
3. Do you have your own (complete or partial) team for this project?
While the web development company you work with should be able to provide a full team, it’s often useful to fill certain key positions on your side.
Do you have a product owner, or perhaps have decided to be one for this project? It’s helpful to have one person responsible for most decision-making and communicating project strategy on your side.
The other important role is that of a tech expert who’ll help you manage the project, make technical decisions or verify the choices made by your external team.
If you don’t have such a tech savvy team member, are you willing to allow the development company to act as consultants? Someone must be able to control the technical aspects of the project, to keep everybody else informed and on track - this could be done by the external company as well.
4. Do you have a budget prepared for continuous development?
First of all, you need to know how much you’re willing to spend on your app, and when.
How big is your budget for the MVP, and how big is the budget for the full version of the app? Did you include infrastructure and licensing costs in your calculations?
Remember that development doesn’t end after launch. You need to be prepared to continue intensive work on the project over a period of time after launch, to fix issues, make sure users are having a smooth experience, and possibly scale for more traffic.
Is the budget secured already, or are you going to search for funding? Will you need the development company to prepare estimates that will help you establish and secure a project budget?
Remember that having a team and an estimate can be invaluable when talking to potential investors.
5. Do you have a timeline in mind?
Every project has deadlines, but some are especially time-sensitive.
Do you want to start gaining traction quickly to get ahead of your competition, or to take advantage of an unfilled niche on your market? Your team will find it helpful in planning their work if you can provide them with a development start date and a delivery (public release) date.
It’s also useful to divide your project timeline into stages. Stage one could be developing the MVP, and stage two could be dedicated to the full version of your app.
6. Do you know your target market?
Are you going to sell your product or service to users in the European Union, the USA, or somewhere else?
The answer to this question might matter more than you think. Focusing on the wrong technology could be a costly mistake.
Make sure you know the trends and preferences specific to your market, as well as its limitations (e.g. average internet connection speed).
7. Do you know your target users?
Once you know the market, make sure to research your users.
Do they use mobile devices regularly? If so, what for? For example, ecommerce businesses need to consider the prevalence of showrooming and webrooming - behaviours that directly affect how users interact with their apps, how they make purchasing decisions, and when they buy certain products.
What about desktop computers and notebooks? Remember that the majority of the market is moving to mobile platforms, but certain kinds of users (e.g. office workers or software developers) still spend a lot of time in front of bigger screens.
Many companies choose to design complex, multichannel experiences for users to boost engagement and conversion rates by tailoring the buyer’s journey to their users’ lifestyle.
8. What is the main purpose of your app?
To answer this question, ask yourself another one: what do you want from your visitors? Would you like to collect their contact information, educate them, interest them in your offer through a landing page, or sell products?
Maybe your users will be your employees, and what you need from your app is an easy-to-use management panel?
Once you know this, you’ll be able to list the features your app or MVP should have and to prioritise the ones that will be the most important to the success of your business.
9. Do you want to connect to third-party services?
Answering this question will help you and your team fine-tune your stack and toolset, as well as improve your app’s design:
- Are you going to introduce payment options within your web app? If so, which ones?
- What social media functionality will you need?
- What about integrations with external tracking systems or any other APIs?
Sometimes, it’s easy enough to add integrations later in the project, but planning for them early on can help you minimise costs and shorten development time.
10. Who will provide the content, and how often?
Do you want your team to deliver a complete app, content included? Or are you prepared to produce the content yourself?
Remember that not all web development companies offer such services and talk to your team to avoid a misunderstanding.
If you choose to provide and input the app content yourself, you should consider creating different user roles for your internal team to limit the amount of damage they might do when making edits within your app, or to protect sensitive data.
Your development team will need to create these roles, so make sure to let them know about this ahead of time.
Finally, how often will you do content updates? Once your app goes live, it might be a good idea to agree on a content update schedule with your development company to avoid situations where one team interferes with the other team’s work.
11. Do you know your competition?
This might seem like something software developers don’t need to know, but that’s not always true. Particularly if you’d like to implement some of your competitors’ ideas or use their apps as benchmarks for yours. If so, try to provide a list of notable competitors for your development team.
You might also want to create a separate list of those competitors you definitely do not want to use as inspiration.
Arrange these lists to put emphasis on your favourite and least favourite websites and designs. Don’t worry about plagiarism - a good development company will never go beyond being inspired by others’ work.
12. What is the goal of the project?
While you’re certainly aware of your project’s business objectives, it’s a good idea to spend some time defining them for your development team.
Some examples of clear objectives for the team are: to refresh the app’s look, to attract more users to your app, to create a better banking experience, or to introduce new features. These are tasks for the team that you’ll be able to define based on the main goal of your project.
What does your business do? What do you want to accomplish with your website?
Remember that while sharing your larger strategy with your development team can be useful, you’ll also need to give them more specific tasks to clearly communicate what you want them to do.
13. If you have an existing project, what can you share about it?
You can focus on sharing two extremes to make things easier: what’s good and what’s bad about your existing project.
What are your biggest pains caused by the project? Is your team struggling with a clunky UI? Are content updates difficult to manage? And what are your users’ biggest pains? Confusing designs, long loading times, a convoluted buyer’s journey?
Figuring this out will help you make a list of fixes that you’d like to introduce to your app.
What about the good parts? What do you like about your project, and what are your users satisfied with?
These are the parts you probably don’t want to change. Make sure your development team is aware of them. Otherwise, they might accidentally add or remove something that was crucial to you, but didn’t seem important to them.
14. What is the definition of success for this project?
The final question to ask yourself is this:
- How will you know whether your project has succeeded or failed?
- What are the KPIs you will measure the project against to make sure everything is going well?
- What will indicate the project’s failure?
Knowing this will help you and your team define the most crucial aspects of the project, as well as the means for measuring the KPIs.
You might be able to set up tracking systems and automate a lot of the process. When something starts going wrong, it’ll be easier to locate the problem and introduce fixes. And you’ll always know what you should be working towards.
These are the fourteen questions you should answer before talking to a web development company about your project.
Doing so will help you save time, improve communication and focus your development process, while allowing your development team to deliver high-quality work.
If you'd like to discuss your idea or product in detail or have any questions, contact us and Netguru's experts will lend you a hand. Get in touch with us or estimate project.