If you're hiring a developer or software development company to build your software, it's most often because you don't have the expertise or time to build it yourself. While many entrepreneurs are experts at describing their vision in a business context, they may be lacking the detailed description necessary for developers. In order to ensure that your end product is what you had imagined, communication is key.
The ability to communicate well with non-technical people is one of the hallmark traits of a star-developer/development team. Here are a few tips on how to communicate throughout your development project in order to obtain the stellar software you had in mind:
Provide Detailed Documentation
The more detailed your description and documentation the better your developers will understand your vision. The most important element of a software development project to document in detail is the user interface (UI). The UI shows the developer where data should be displayed and how it should be formatted.
A great place to start describing your vision is by giving your developers examples of websites you like, but be sure to articulate exactly which features you wish to emulate and how they are relevant to your project. Including competitor websites and defining what you like and dislike about them can also assist in painting a clearer picture for your developers.
Define Input and Output
Clearly define actions that can be taken by users and what the expected result will be. This will ensure that your software operates as planned without surprises. Include business use cases for how the software will operate in specific situations (refunds, cancellations, etc.)
Wireframes and Prototypes
A wireframe acts as a visual blueprint of a website. A prototype is a series of click-through wireframes that illustrate website functionality. You don't need to be a computer whiz to put together wireframes. You can put together simple wireframes using power point or use more detailed programs such as Omnigraffle and Balsamiq.
Avoid Feature Creep
When building software to serve a particular purpose it is easy to let your mind run wild when it comes to features, the possibilities are endless. However, the more features you have the more time and money the project will consume. Ensure you have a good reason for each particular feature you intend to have built and that they are something that will actually be used by your target users.
First and foremost, set realistic deadlines and be sure you and your developers can meet them. Ensure that you provide feedback and information promptly to avoid bottlenecks and project delays. Avoid announcing a launch date until you're close to product completion or you may risk having to publicly post-pone.
Quickly respond to questions and be available by email. This can curtail lag in meeting development milestones. Ask to see how the software is progressing, if something doesn't fit with what you had in mind it is easier to fix if it is noticed sooner rather than later. In many cases, something will make sense to the developer who coded it but not the average user. Testing the software throughout the project can help you spot changes you'd like to make right away and keep your development team on the right track.