Communications is everything when you’re building custom web applications for a client. The client has a vision for their application that they must communicate to the development team. Through conversations, Q&A and research, the developers form a vision they believe came from the client. Unfortunately sometimes, two different visions can result from this process. So how can we be sure we develop the web app that our clients really need?
The Boomcycle answer is to create a demonstration website that clearly illustrates the proposed look-and-feel, user interface and functionality. This is the fundamental design of the system. We call these demo web applications “mock-ups“.
A good mock-up appears to “work”. However usually all that’s going on behind the scenes is a bit of jQuery to simulate database calls, website functionality and most importantly to the client, how it will feel to use the application.
Once the client spends a bit of time with the system mock-up, it becomes clear that either the correct vision has been communicated or that the vision needs to be refined. Often, the refinement process is as a result of the client actually working with the mock-up. There is no better way to intuitively understand if a website or a piece of software will “work” than by experiencing the mock-up.
Occasionally, the system mock-up will demonstrate that some part of a proposed software project is unfeasible. One mock-up we built for a client demonstrated that automatically placing a large number of push-pins on a Google Map required far too much time to load. The client felt users would become bored. Thus the client decided to zoom in on a smaller area of the map, which would require less pins.
The benefit of building a mock-up initially as opposed to a actual, functional website is that much less time is spent developing the mock-up. If changes must be made, they are much (much!) more easily and quickly made to a demonstration website rather than the final product. And there is no wasted effort or code in the mock-up: the final built system will use the mock-up’s interface components.
The Boomcycle web application mock-up process allows the client and the development team to communicate clearly, ensure a successful collaboration and ultimately, a successful final product.