You believe you know what you need to build. Your customers (internal or external) are falling over their feet for your vision. All you need to do is get your MVP, your V1.0, into their hands. And once you do, you can pour fuel on the fire and take off. But how do you do this? How can you get there as quickly as possible, with as few resources (time, money, people) as possible? We all know, building a product takes a lot of work – so the more of the burden that you can take off your team’s shoulders the better.
The current approaches (at least for front-end creation) presented below just simply don’t cut it — You need a new type of solution that can change the trajectory of your project and maximize your chances of success.
You could build your entire front-end by hand
This is how most projects are built. Use a framework (React, Angular, Vue), choose a handful of libraries (D3, Highcharts, Components), and then hire a team of UI/UX designers to figure out the optimal solution. Then hire a team of engineers to build it out. You get control over architectural/design decisions, and everything can be pixel perfect.
However, this takes time – and we mean a LOT of time. Everything is a decision that must be made and likely discussed. Architectures are often custom-made, making them hard to understand and maintain by consultants and contractors. And your skilled team (and we mean a full develop/test/deploy team) must hand design and code every configuration screen, every navigation element, every detail – even the ones that aren’t going to move the needle. And of course, there is a high amount of risk because it will take months to know if you have even built the right thing.
⬆More People | ⬆ More Time | ⬆ More Money | ⬆ More Control
⬆More Risk | ⇡ Some Technical Debt | ⬇ More Resources to “Move the Needle”
You could use templates
Every new project is tempted to go online and download a “template” for a product. Usually, this will come with a pre-canned dashboard and navigation system – maybe another page or two. And these template’s cost is absolutely minimal, and the screenshots posted look super slick. Certain gaps can be covered without needing specialized engineers or designers.
But now, your team needs to convert these “stubs” into an actual product. Your engineers need to slog through all this code (which likely isn’t well organized, documented, or written) to ensure every button does the right thing and every link goes to the right place. Every widget on a dashboard and every user input now needs to be customized – and I don’t just mean changing a name. Widgets need to be completely reworked to integrate with your data, your interactions, your product. And what if this “template” doesn’t support a feature you need (e.g., internationalization, theming, UI access control). In that case, your team needs to go through the entire project and refactor all the code you got as a “template,” re-writing large chunks. And why did those screenshots look so “slick?” It is because the demos were overly-simplified – they often have tons of pictures, people’s faces, and visually pleasing UI elements that have no relationship to an enterprise product, IT solution or B2B software. And once you remove that useless eye-candy, you are left with the hollowed-out skeleton – and saddled with the technical debt of someone else’s architecture and design decisions. But you didn’t start from scratch, and you got out the door faster. But have you ever wondered why most startups, companies and IT departments don’t use templates? That should say something…
⬆ More People | ⇡ More Time | ⇡ More Money | ⬇ Limited Control
⇡ Some Risk | ⬆ More Technical Debt | ⇣ Some Resources to “Move the Needle”
The key goal here is that you need to get it as real as possible to get customers using your solution while putting forth as few resources (people, development, money, time) as possible. How do you ship a fully functional front-end while leaving you time to differentiate yourself from your competition?
- It isn’t practical to try to make everything perfect, you need “good enough,” and more importantly you don’t have time for perfection (even if you even knew what perfect was at this point).
- It isn’t enough to build from a half-complete house without a foundation, you need to know what will work out of the gate, using best-practices from day-one.
You need a solution to increase the likelihood of success, decrease time to market, decrease delays and ensure a consistent output. You need to free up your team from the mundane aspects of product creation, to make content that sets you apart from your competition while getting it in the hand of customers ASAP. This is the exact moment where a change can happen, where a new type of solution can change the trajectory of your project.
But honestly, once you build your MVP – you still need to get to maintain and grow your product….
See Our Next Article In This Series:
Your first customers are using your product, and the word around the water-cooler is that you have a really cool solution. But now the first new feature request comes in, the next control someone wants access to, the first enhancement, the first custom screen. Now you have to tweak your navigation system to support another […]