Web Application Life Cycle: Development and Business
P.S.: It is a cycle, not steps
People usually think that web applications should be developed in a waterfall manner with defined steps then deliver to the users or project owner and they are done.
If you are building a simple website like a portfolio page, a blog, or a company website; that would be okay. But for web applications, it is a different story.
It should rather be in the form of incremental development, adaptation and always adjusting to the market. It is not a sequence of steps but rather a cycle.
The following cycle should be repeated over and over. A project never ends until it dies you will always like to have new features adapt to the market see what the competition is doing, and change to gain new customers and retain current ones.
Ready… Let’s Go!
💡Idea & Planning
Any web application needs to depend on a core idea. The Why people are willing to pay a premium to purchase and use it. The best and most efficient way to plan is to use the Business Model Canvas to outline the critical pieces of your business.
Before writing any line of code, the new idea, feature, story, or epic should be designed in a prototype. It can be on a sheet of paper or up to using apps like Sketch or Adobe XD.
Then, it passes to potential customers to test it and see their reaction and interaction with this feature or product. The reason why is that the design is faster and easier to change and doesn’t have a higher cost-to-time ratio.
But software development is costly. You will have multiple developers building your application or if you are building an MVP you most probably will hire an expensive and experienced developer.
That is why you need to prototype and test with potential customers whether they like the idea or no.
When I build a prototype for my clients, I like to wander around websites like Behance and Awwwards to get a few ideas.
Software development will be the longest and most expensive part of building the features. It includes designing the UI in the frontend and developing the backend code to store the data, authorize security, add unit tests and implement the code.
Good software architecture design and clean robust code is the only way to ensure that your application can adapt and change quickly. You need to keep speed in mind. Slowliness will just kill your application.
Never go cheap with software and hire a $50 developer to build your fully-fledged application. You would rather buy 10 cups of coffee and peace of mind instead.
If you are short on budget, go with a Full-stack developer who also has some idea about design and concepts to get a solid MVP up and running faster and cheaper. You will be lucky if they also understand the business which will help to translate the needs and requirements.
Don’t develop the application with all features. Start with an MVP first to really test with potential customers and adjust to their needs.
After the code or the new feature is developed, they need to be tested for any bugs, potential misunderstanding, misalignment with designers, or if it doesn't do the correct interactions.
Make sure the code is working and delivering what it promises and works correctly on production servers not only development environment.
Tests include all levels; unit tests, integration tests, end-to-end tests, performance tests, security tests and there are many other types of tests.
But the most important ones that should be the bare minimum are unit tests and end-to-end tests. These should cover most of the worries and problems.
🚀 Launch & Marketing
After everything is ready now comes the time to lunch and market the feature or initial application. I mention initial because this application is not final and you would properly adapt and change it to add new features and so on.
Do you know that Youtube was actually a dating website
Of course, you will be using a lot of ads to market your application but I would advise you that you care about educating your potential users rather than being just salesy.
I hate the word marketing. It sounds pushy. I like to go with educating your clients on how to use your product and add value to them
🔁 Repeat and adapt
Repeat the whole cycle again and be agile. You need to be fast like really fast and produce new features, do A/B testing and see the market response and react to it.
I like the MVP model more than thinking and theorizing about implementing the feature. When you go fast you will do more mistakes and it will increase your experience and this is the important part.