Translating Your Vision Effectively to Developers (Part I)

October 15th, 2010

Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the development of a variety of websites, mobile applications and software projects; I’ve heard a lot of great ideas and I’ve witnessed a lot of frustration when the vision isn’t properly translated to a final project.

I’ve had my own ideas about the best ways to make sure that your vision is effectively translated to reality, but I wanted to see what our development team had to say about it. To sum up their ideas in one word, “Communication,” would be the focal point. I want to expand on that and share how the communication should take place, and give clients a how-to guide on what is the best way to effectively communicate with developers and make sure the end result of your project fits the vision that inspired it.

Brainstorm with the Developer

– So you have an idea, or perhaps a problem that needs a solution. Typically the first step is to brainstorm possible avenues to tackle the issue. If you’re creating a software app, ask the questions: what features does it NEED to have and what features would be NICE to have? You may want to include a developer in these conversations. They often have a different perspective and can help you decipher what is possible versus what is not, along with what might be possible if the budget were unlimited.

Remember that applications are designed to solve a problem, developers often have different solutions for a problem than say a marketing or sales mind might, so you may come up with different ideas with them in the room.

Write It Down

– What do you need to write down? Well, pretty much everything. A winning software project starts with a solid Statement of Work that properly outlines the features, benefits, processes, and any other related project information. Jacob Haskins, our Director of Mobile Development had this to say:

I think one of the biggest things would be to get project details in writing, including:

  • Instructions
  • Project goals
  • Functionality
  • Wireframes
  • Design files
  • Anything else regarding project details.

This should be more than just emailing a to-do list. Functional specs, wireframes and design files are essential to possessing quality software development. This fact is for two reasons:

  • 1 – IT FORCES THE CLIENT TO THINK THINGS OUT MORE LOGICALLY. I’ve worked on projects that the only form of communicating project goals is through a step by step process in emails or phone calls. The client doesn’t have a clear picture of what they want, ideas constantly change, and in all the mix of emails and phone calls the developer can easily get just as confused as the client. If the client has their ideas clearly documented then the project will move forward much more smoothly. Of course, functionality or design may change throughout the development process, but not drastically.
  • 2 – IT ALLOWS THE DEVELOPMENT TEAM TO THINK THINGS OUT MORE LOGICALLY. Throughout the development life-cycle, I will read through the documentation a dozen times or more. Going into any given project, I have only a vague idea of what the client wants. But if I have access to these items in writing when I start the development process, I will be able to study the requirements as many times as I need to get a clear idea of where the project should go. This is also important because potential problems and difficulties that may arise can be spotted early on and addressed quickly.

I’d like to thank Jacob for his insights. Next week, I’m going to discuss two more aspects that will help in translating your vision, having a dedicated project manager, and understanding roles.


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John Rainey

John Rainey brings almost 20 years of sales, marketing and business development experience in the custom multimedia-, Internet- and mobile programming industry. He has worked with Fortune 500 corporate executives and small- to mid-sized business owners alike. His experience spans projects with such companies as Northrop Grumman, Booz Allen, SAIC, Beazer Homes, Homebuilders Association of Maryland, Volvo Rents, Rodale Publishing and Draeger Medical Devices.

2 Responses to “Translating Your Vision Effectively to Developers (Part I)”

  1. [...] Last week I talked about the importance of brainstorming and making sure that you write down your thoughts and ideas when speaking with developers.  This week I want to share with you the importance of having a project manager as well as some of the thoughts that I’ve received from our developer Max Rakhimov. [...]

  2. [...] the previous posts about effectively translating your vision, we discussed the importance of including a developer in the brainstorming stages, writing down your thoughts, having a dedicated project manager and understanding everybody’s [...]

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