Business-focused custom software

  • What do you want to do?

    A critical component of user interface design is understanding what the user is trying to accomplish. One of my customers has discovered the hard way that their attempts to add new features and functionality to one of their web applications has actually had the opposite effect - it has made the system less usable and more confusing.

    Originally this application was designed to search and display property information. At one point, the customer decided they wanted to add vacancy information to this application. On the one hand, this was the right idea - vacancy information was much more important to ...

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  • Can we talk?

    An employee for one of my customers last week made the comment that she thought a web application I built was "almost unusable". Unfortunately, I had to agree. This customer used a design firm for this application. The goal was to create a web app that was more "usable" than their previous applications. Unfortunately, the design firm did not have much expertise in this area, and the results are unfortunate. The application looks okay, but it requires several clicks to get to the desired information, which is frustrating for end users.

    Unfortunately, this customer made a couple of mistakes. Since usability ...

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  • Being a Professional

    Two completely unrelated items got me thinking today.

    The first item described an artist selling her creations at an art fair. She wouldn't take credit cards and she was ambivalent about shipping an item, even when the purchaser offered a FedEx number. Clearly, she was more focused on being an artist than she was on business of selling her art.

    The second item shows what happens when software developers don't develop a repeatable process for setting up a developer's project environment, either for a new developer or if an existing system has to be rebuilt. With software development, it is ...

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  • Avoiding Geek Overdrive

    Good developers love writing code. While this is a good thing, occasionally it can lead to solutions that have a high “geek” value but a low business value.

    Sometimes it is easy to identify this problem. I know of a simple invoicing application that was developed on a tight budget. Instead of focusing on the business value (making sure it created invoices properly), the developer focused on building a unique user interface for it. He didn’t like the Windows, and thought he could do better. Unfortunately, this approach had a high “geek value”, i.e. a COOL user interface, but had a very ...

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  • Connecting with Customers

    Two posts at the Contrarian Consulting blog really got my attention. One post describes a business owner who mistreats a potential customer in several different ways. The other post shows how a business owner was able to quickly turn a problem into a good impression.

    I think the moral is: responsiveness to customer questions and problems is critical. This is something I work hard at with my software consulting business. I try to respond to questions and problems in a timely manner, and I try to keep them in the loop when unexpected problems arise that could affect deadlines.  

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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