How Much Do You Need to Know to Build an App?

We suggest having a familiarity with how software projects are structured and then finding great experts to work with. Otherwise, having a background in programming, project management, or design is a huge help. Even taking the time to fully scope your app, will make a smooth transition to getting it built right the first time.

Full Transcript Below

Cody:

Hello, welcome to another Bixly Tech Tuesday. This is Cody, and this is Cris. We’re going to be talking about tech experts today. And to get us started, we have an initial question. And that would be, Cris, why do you need a tech expert?

Cris:

So I would say that you need a tech expert based upon whether you yourself are a tech expert. And also if you want to be able to have someone else to bounce ideas off. So what that means is, do you have a development background? Do you maybe have a design background? Are you technical in some way? If so, it may make sense for you as the actual client to lead out on the project in some ways, and point the direction. Or you don’t have to be a tech expert if you’re trying to build something, you may also not know a lot, but of course, at that point you want to hire an expert.

Cris:

You wouldn’t go out and try and build a house yourself if you have no carpentry or construction background. So it’s important that you obviously get somebody that has those pieces of information. I think it’s useful though, of course, that in this scenario where let’s say, I don’t know a lot and I’m not a tech expert, that maybe I kind of do some research on some basic background knowledge. What are your thoughts? Do you have any ideas on good things for a client to just brush up on if they’re non-technical before they try and go engage with an expert?

Cody:

Yeah. For sure. I think the biggest part of being able to do some sort of a software project from someone who’s not really a software engineer, is just to understand the lay of the land and the general process of actual software development. Telling someone to go like, okay. Find out the newest, neatest tech stacks and prescribe this to your developers. Don’t do that. That’s going to probably end up restricting you harder than it’s going to help you in the end. But you do need to know how the software development process works. Terms like agile, waterfall, whatever methodology works for you and the types of, how does an actual software engineering team function and how do they keep their process flowing so that they end up with a product at the end. I think that’s going to be your biggest, most important thing. And how to function as the role that you want to be within that process.

Cris:

Okay. So like the house analogy, what does it take to actually build a house? I don’t need to know the ins and outs of electricity, but I need to know that you have to actually run wiring through the house when you’re building it, otherwise, you don’t have electricity. So things, maybe like, time that it’s actually going to take to develop something custom. Costs associated. Rough ideas. So you don’t come into it thinking that it’s going to take a week and a thousand dollars when you’re trying to build a custom piece of software to compete with Facebook.

Cody:

So, Cris, as you were talking about the house analogy, the idea that you need to know that there has to be electricity, there has to be plumbing. There has to be all these regulations and codes enforced if you were to build a house, much like that, you need to have the respect of domains of knowledge within software development to know what to expect along that process you are functioning along with. Whether or not you get very technical or you’re just someone who’s a part of the project directing everything. That means you need to know everything from design to software development, at least that these things should exist. Not things you know how to do them yourself, but how do you function as a part of the process during each of those phases from design to software development to testing to release? You need to know what to expect as you’re going through the whole process.

Cris:

Got you. And so again, you need to find somebody that knows all of these actual domains of knowledge, or this is where a team comes into play. And this is why it makes sense to develop with someone like Bixly because we have that bench of different services. And so it may make sense that we throw someone on the project such as, honestly, just yourself personally, that has a decent design. That knows how front end interfaces should work and how to develop something on the backend and deploy to a server and so on and so forth. But not every company that you work with may have people that have all the skills and the domain knowledge in a single individual. Or if you’re going out trying to again, freelance and go look for somebody, it might not actually be possible for you to find someone that knows all that stuff.

Cody:

Yeah.

Cris:

So this is where it makes sense to actually know that you need to possibly build out a team, not a person.

Cody:

Yeah. I think that touches on the concept of a very common job role that’s within the software industry right now, and that’s called a full stack engineer. The reality of full stack engineers is that they exist. And it’s often a marketing term for anyone who is in software development, but ultimately everyone has their specialty. And even if you do hire some full stack engineer, I would not expect them from the beginning of a project to the end of the project to fulfill every role with enough competence to fit the bill of the actual project. So having your specialists along the way is going to be very important.

Cris:

Got you. That makes complete sense. So even here at Bixly, again, we have those full stack developers, but it makes sense of course, to build along the way and pull in an expert. Yeah.

Cody:

Yeah. A good example would be myself. You referenced me as someone who knows how to do some design stuff, knows how to do this. I can do design, but I’ll be honest that I’m not very good at it. I’m better at editing things perhaps, but when it comes from everything from that point forward, I can do that pretty well, but you’d probably want someone else besides me doing your design. Just to be honest here. So that’s the idea of specialists. In the event I was a software engineer on someone’s project, you’d want a separate team for doing that design because I don’t want to do it. And I probably won’t do a very good job at it.

Cris:

That’s good. And now we’ll have a video forever if suddenly someone’s watching this video and they’re like, “Why is this guy Cody doing in my design? I feel like…”

Cody:

Yes. Because the design team was booked.

Cris:

So I think we’ve established, but I’ll reiterate it again. You don’t have to be a tech expert in order to jump into custom software development. But you need to be able to do the appropriate research so you understand the general process and phases of development. And then again, go find somebody that needs that expert. Any other things that we should be informed about as a client as they’re trying to build out a project, things that you can think of that maybe we didn’t touch on?

Cody:

Yeah. For sure. I think another part of that idea of having experts at your disposal, the other part of that equation is when you feel like you don’t have enough knowledge in a particular domain, you need to early and adequately defer to those experts. A lot of the time people will take advice at face value and ultimately make their own decision based off of some certain principle. And that is completely reasonable as a primary stakeholder in a project, but it’s very important to take the advice of these experts and heed them as best as you can, because they really do know what they’re talking about.

Cody:

And the software world is ultimately a vastly changing landscape that is often very foreign to many other industries. And if you go about taking some principle from some other industry that definitely worked for that, it may not work for you in this particular case. And being able to adequately listen to those experts and take feedback and go forward and make an evolving software project will require you to listen to the people who know what they’re doing.

Cris:

Got you. So really owning your product as the client, you need to know how to listen to this outside opinion from the experts. But it also sounds like too, because again, something may work for a particular vertical that has been worked on by that team prior that may be slightly different in yours. And so you also need to bring in your domains of knowledge as far as actually owning the product and knowing what’s going to work. And lead out by both listening to their advice and heeding it and listening to their advice and maybe modifying it slightly. But always know that if this is an area that you, as the client, are not the expert in, you probably want to lean on your experts.

Cody:

Definitely. That’s what they’re there for.

Cris:

Yeah.

Cody:

Chances are you’re paying them for that resource. And I would defer to the experts, honestly, as much and as early as you can, as long as it’s not, what would be the word? Diluting your business idea. It’s a good idea to go about doing whatever they think is the best. And of course, there are second opinions if you need to confirm something, but overall listen to the experts.

Cris:

Someone that’s looking to either just get some more information or maybe even start working with Bixly as the expert, how would they go about getting a hold of us and getting just information in general?

Cody:

You go to our website, bixly.com. And on there, we have a contact us page where you can get a hold of either Cris, me, or anyone else on the sales team. And that would allow you to get either information on sales if you want to actually contract with us, or just information on the general process of software engineering. A lot of the time we’ll help out any customer that gets a hold of us just simply because we like people to be educated. And if they happen to find that nice and go with us, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s on them.

Cody:

On top of that, we have a free custom software guide that’s available on our website. If you stick around, there’s a pop-up that will show up and that’ll help you possibly have any answer to any questions you might have about the software development process, especially if you’re going around as a business person trying to get into it. That said, this has been a Tech Tuesday. And this is Cody and this is Cris. And every Tuesday we have one of these and tune in next week for another topic.

Originally published at https://blog.bixly.com on February 24, 2021.