Business-focused custom software

  • The secret to picking the right technology for your application

    Recently a prospective client contacted me about upgrading her e-commerce site. She had been researching e-commerce options and had found one that she thought was a good fit. Unfortunately she was having trouble finding a local vendor who supported it because there are lots and lots of e-commerce choices and everyone has picked something different to support.

    My suggestion: stop focusing on the shopping cart or technology choice, and instead focus on the features that are important for the business. It is likely that there are many different choices that will meet her needs, and by settling on one without ...

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  • Why you should care about errors

    One of my customers has a web application that uses the out-of-the-box exception handling instead of a custom error page. So every time a user encounters an error, they see information that is useful to the developer, but isn't understandable by the end-user. There are several reasons why this is a bad practice:

    • Usability #1: All this error information is typically fraught with technical details that can be overwhelming to the end user, and doesn't help them understand what occurred and how to deal with it.
    • Usability #2: Often the generic pages do not include navigation links or menus to ...

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  • What everyone ought to know about software development estimates

    I recently delivered some software to a customer that took more than double the time of my original estimate. Since my bids are typically at a fixed rate it didn't affect my customer's costs. However it could have affected their planning timeline for implementation.

    Here are some things you should keep in mind about software development estimates:

    Estimates are by their nature imprecise

    An estimate is called an estimate because we don't really know for sure how long it will take. If we knew for sure, we'd call it something else. The only way to know exactly how long something ...

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  • Motivating Programmers

    Frank Kelly has published some good ideas about how to motivate developers. If you manage programmers, you will find it valuable.

    I think one of the things vastly overlooked in some large, complex corporate environments is the drag that non-programming activities can have on productivity. In my experience, the more busy work to be done (meetings, status reports, team-building exercises, etc.), the more productivity can take a major hit.

    What many don't realize is that it isn't just the time these activities take that suck the productivity from the programmer. It is also the illogical aspects of some of ...

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  • Are they inexperienced?

    Something I recommend in my white paper Selecting a Programmer is to find someone who has built something like your application before. In a way, this can be more complicated than it appears. After all, the reason why you are building custom software is because there isn’t any software like yours anywhere (at least not that you have access to).

    But it is important here to understand the real point. Let’s say my project is a YouTube clone for uploading and playing video. There are unique challenges associated with dealing with video and larger files. So if I had trouble ...

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What the critics are saying...

Avonelle is a rare IT professional who can communicate with business users on a level they can understand, and who can recommend creative technical solutions that are in line with the business goals and the business budget. Avonelle is conscientious not only about meeting deadlines, but also exceeding her customers expectations around quality software while providing superior customer service. Avonelle is an inspiration to me.

Valerie Vogt, Director of IT Advisory Services @ Inetium