Business-focused custom software

  • How to tell if an estimate sucks

    Even if you aren't paying for custom software on an hourly basis, you probably still care about how long it will take for the programmer to complete the work. After all, you hire a programmer because you think custom software will add to your bottom line, either by saving you money or increasing your marketshare. So every day without your new software is costing you cash.

    Programmers are notorious for missing deadlines and taking longer than they promised. So if programmer says they will be done with your project by X date, how can you tell if they are just blowing smoke ...

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  • The Secret to Building a Crappy User Interface

    If you are like me, you have seen your share of really bad web applications. You have probably wondered "How could anyone design something this crappy?"

    I am going to tell you.

    The secret to designing a really awful user interface is to think like a geek and not like an end-user.

    That's it.

    I'll give you an example you will see on many e-commerce sites. Many of these sites don't let you enter a credit card number with dashes or spaces. Believe me when I tell you that there is no good reason why sites do this, and it makes it ...

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  • The Secret to Programming Methodologies

    When you talk to programmers, sometimes they will talk about methodologies. In fact, some programmers will go on and on and on about them. If you are hiring, they may tell you that they use “agile” practices or “waterfall”. As your eyes glaze over, you may correctly wonder “do I need to care?”

    The answer is: No.

    The question of methodologies can make a lot of programmers very religious. I’ve seen perfectly normal people get quite aggressive when they started talking about their chosen software development approach. Even the sales people for consulting firms can say quite pompously “We ...

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  • The Problem with Selecting the Lowest Bidder

    None of us wants to pay more than necessary for anything, including programming services. Sometimes the lowest bid is a great deal; sometimes it isn't. Here are some things to consider when comparing bids for software development:

    Compare apples to apples. Make sure the bids you are comparing are all fixed bids, and not hourly rates (even with an accompanying estimate.) Because estimates are not typically binding, and every developer works at a different speed, hourly rates are a more way to compare bids.

    What's included? Make sure you thoroughly understand what is included in each bid. Here are some things ...

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  • Risky Business

    Ryan at 37signals recently posted on the dangers of adding new features to software. Once a new feature is added, it is difficult to remove even if it doesn't work well and not utilized by the majority of your users. The problem is that SOME users will likely become frustrated when the feature is removed.

    Ryan suggests that this should inspire you to be very careful about the features you implement. I think this advice depends a lot on the size/impact of the feature, but his point is valid.

    The problem is - what should be done if the feature ...

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What the critics are saying...

Avonelle is an incredibly talented software developer. She works fast, is economical, and offers great insights into the project at hand. She is also not afraid to speak up when she has concerns about a decision or approach. We’ve utilized her talents on many of our software development projects over the years.

Carrie Rocha, Chief Operating Officer @ HousingLink