With a rare week of beautiful spring weather, San Francisco welcomed Smashingconf back in early June for the first time since 2019. Carefully biking my way through the chaos of the Warriors NBA championship parade, I soon arrived at the beautiful Fort Mason ready for a long day of design. After catching up with some former co-workers in town from Hong Kong, I settled in for a full-day workshop with Smashing founder Vitaly Friedman. The topic?
Lots of agencies have their own 'branded' version of Discovery. The same Discovery process that works for building Mission Control for SpaceX might not work as well for a game designed to kill time for teens. (Although some parts might be eerily similar!) In our quest to deliver value to users of 'serious' web interfaces, we pull from several different frameworks.
You’re a product leader on the cusp of starting new development work, so you have an outline of your product strategy, and you have hypotheses about the users of your product. But you don’t have the first-person point of view because you haven’t talked to users yet. You want to have those conversations with users, but you hesitate, because you don’t want to...
If you’re a prospective client of Lab Zero, then you have a software solution in mind. It’s axiomatic: if you didn’t have a solution in mind, you would not have the approval to solicit proposals from top-shelf development agencies like Lab Zero, and we would not be talking to you. But, since we’re talking, we know that you’ve already encountered pain, or opportunity, and you have started to think how software could solve that problem or meet that opportunity. In short, if you are talking to us, then you have a software solution in your head.
Anybody floating down the river of Agile these days will look very sharply at you when you ask how much time it will take to build a feature, or how much a set of features will cost. The answer is usually, ‘By letting us do what we do best, you will get the most value possible per time. By demanding release dates and budgets, we can only say for sure that we will deliver less value per time.’ Yeah. Thanks a lot, man.
You know what you want to do. You've done the buy vs build analysis and you've determined that it's worth building custom software. You defined the features, the product you need to deliver. You’re looking for a vendor to contract for those deliverables. Why, then, is Lab Zero sending you a proposal that includes people and roles you didn’t ask for?
Building and maintaining custom software can be a pretty big investment of time and money. Custom solutions aren’t just for big, established companies. Many startup business models depend on custom software development using platforms like Ruby on Rails. We’ve had lots of conversations with decision-makers in a variety of situations, and we know where you’re coming from. Making the decision to build a software solution comes with excitement and some anxiety. The fear of failure: fear of wasting your time and money on something that doesn’t make a difference--or that makes a difference in the wrong direction. The excitement of creating something uniquely valuable that differentiates your company or product year after year. It’s the kind of decision that can keep you awake at night, no matter what you choose to do.