Business-focused custom software

  • Finding the Right User Interface Features

    I recently worked on a design where we struggled with finding the best approach for a particular requirement. In the end, we came up with a great approach that is a big improvement over the current one. Here’s how our design approach evolved.

    The Problem

    The application is a search tool that helps people find affordable housing in Minnesota. The current system allows for several search criteria, including geographic location. The current implementation uses 4 list boxes – two for cities and two for counties. The first list box in each group shows a list of all the cities, the ...

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  • 3 Things Customers Wish Developers Knew

    Here are three things that customers wish developers understood:

    1) Standardization and consistency are critical. I don't care about your fancy flashy non-standard user interface that works differently from everyone else's. It may look "awesome", but I can't afford the training time for my 100+ employees to learn to interact with something like that. I need something that is consistent with everything else, not a flashy jumble.

    2) Tech-speak is not impressive. It is just confusing. You need to explain this stuff in a way that doesn't use words like "schema", "index", or "primary key". Otherwise I will just fall ...

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  • Talk to me!

    Sometimes it is hard for a customer to know what to communicate with a freelance software developer. This isn't really surprising - it can often seem like the developer needs to only know WHAT the decision is, and not HOW the decision was arrived at (or WHY). Unfortunately, leaving the developer out of the loop is too bad, because they may be able to help you to better achieve your goals.

    One of my customers made a design decision this week based on how google analytics will gather data. Their decision isn't necessarily wrong, but certainly this determination is ...

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  • The Right Stuff

    Imagine interviewing a potential builder to construct your new three bedroom rambler. When you ask him about his previous experience, he explains that for the last ten years he has been involved in building office skyscrapers, and has never built a residential home. Would you still consider him for the job?

    Software development experience is similar. All developers have a wide variety of experience, and not all of it will be applicable to your job. The task of creating an operating system is very different from creating an application like Microsoft Word, and that task is different from creating a marketing website. While you are unlikely ...

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  • Who needs custom software?

    Answer: Not everyone. In many cases, off the shelf software will serve your basic business needs. However, there are several situations where custom software is worth considering - here are a few:

    1) Devilish Duplication. Do your employees enter the same data into multiple systems? Perhaps you use one application for capturing orders, and another for tracking inventory. Custom software could give you a way to move the data from one system into the other so that your employees don't spend their days moving files between "drawers".

    2) Spread the work around. Do your employees input data provided by your customers? ...

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What the critics are saying...

Avonelle is a talented expert in her field. She has blended well with our team and built applications that we are proud to deploy to our associates. Her talents helped us execute a vision expediently and with quality. If we could do it all over again, we wouldn’t change a thing.

Peter Edstrom @ Renewal by Andersen