In previous posts, we covered the importance of choosing a developer versus a designer and whether to go with a custom built application versus a platform like Wordpress. This first decision between building a website or building a web application is vital. Here, we help make that decision a little easier, and we get you started in thinking about the information you will need to gather from your business processes to build the perfect application.
Web Site Versus Application: What to Consider
First, you need to identify the purpose and goals for your new project. Then, ask yourself these questions to help choose between application development and web design:
- Are you looking to acquire new customers for an existing product? If so, this is what we refer to as a ‘lead gen’ site, rather than a business application. A web designer would be the right fit here.
- Are you looking to make money directly off of your site? In other words, is this project going to be the product? If so, you would need a developer like Ping! Development.
- Is this something your team will use to boost productivity or efficiency? What we specialize in at Ping! Development is helping businesses do business their way, rather than conforming to what a piece of software dictates. This is a perfect example of application development.
What is Web Development?
As we mentioned in a previous blog, “Web developers (sometimes they are referred to as programmers) go beyond the simple design phase of a web application. A developer focuses on the back-end programming, function, and code to make the web application dynamic. So, instead of the application being ‘static’ or stationary, developers put in commands to make the application ‘interactive.’” In other words, we create custom, web-based software to help you run your business. As you can see, this is much different than creating a marketing site that helps you promote your products.
Which is better, Web Designer or Web Developer
They’re both better, assuming you’ve accurately selected the right professional. In fact, sometimes you need both: one to generate leads, one to build the product. The key for you is to know which one to hire. If you’re not sure, just ask us. We’re happy to help you understand what your project needs.
Understand What your Business Needs
First, consider the types of applications that you can have developed:
- Digital Products that can be viewed or downloaded from your application. Think of instructional videos, document generators, media rentals like movies and music, ebooks, photography and images, and educational courses and material
- Automation tools that can help you create efficiency in your business, like marketing automation, testing automation, integration of applications and information flow.
- eCommerce: Selling products online, especially when there is integration with other systems, shipping, product options, etc.
- Customer Support: ongoing support for a service/product after the initial sale. Think of how much time can be saved by having an application take care of most of your customers’ questions and issues.
Information Design for your Application
Next, you need to identify the information that your project will need to gather and use. The key here is to really dig into your business process and flow of information. Consider how information flows from your customers into your business, how it is used, and what information is passed back to them, either directly or into other applications. Trace that flow of information through your business and figure out what information is really important to the development of this application.
Gathering your information:
- Who will interact with the application: users, customers, vendors, partners.
- What kind of information needs to be managed in an application
- Check existing applications that you use
- Review any spreadsheets you use in your business. Look at the columns there for key pieces of information that is used.
- Are there moments within your processes where an alert would be helpful? What should trigger those alerts and who should receive the alerts? Do your own processes get held up waiting on customers to enter or provide information? Get an alert.
You want to think about your business process: what information goes in, what information comes out, and how is it used. Also, what pain is your current app causing? What do you really want to keep from the processes or software you’re using today?
There’s a reason people say, “Garbage in, garbage out.” That notion applies just as much to your web application. So, once you have made the key decision to work with a Web Developer to create your application, the information design becomes a key part of the process -- no garbage in! By really going through your business processes and understanding how a custom application will help you run and grow your business, you will gather the information your developer needs in order to create the perfect application for you. The right developer, like PIng! Development, will walk you through this process and ensure that the Information Design for your project is spot on, creating success for your project and your business.