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Having an idea for a startup but lack the knowledge and expertise to implement it successfully? Do not know where to start and are looking for specialists to help you start developing your business? Then, we recommend starting familiarizing yourself with the topic of custom software development for startups from our article. In our new blog post, we will cover the following questions:
- How to properly prepare for custom software development, and what is needed for this process?
- Where to find a great development team?
- What are the main steps involved in building software from scratch?
- What problems can you face while creating a new product, and what can be the ways to solve them?
- What should be the budget for custom software development?
Thanks to the expertise and experience of our team, we will try to tell you in as much detail as possible about all the specifics and pitfalls of custom software development.
What should you know before starting custom software development for startups?
Creating any product is a complex and challenging process. Before you start building your software, you as a startup need to know the following things:
Idea is the first thing to think about
To start creating a new product, you need to come up with the idea that will be developed to success. Moreover, it does not have to be something new or ingenious.
It might be something that a lot of people deal with on a daily basis but just don’t see the simplicity of the solution. If you create something that wins against the background of existing analogs, you will be a winner.
In general, a centric idea is the key here. Many contractors may say that, for example, your idea is not feasible or it will not work. But the bottom line is that technology should serve and not limit.
It’s a pretty complex process
Custom software development for startups is a challenging process with pitfalls and risks. To succeed, you need a team of professionals who have worked with startups more than once and know all the details of building new products from scratch.
The Northell team is exactly the kind of company that specializes in creating high-end custom software and can help you through every stage of development.
Product discovery is more important than ever
Product discovery is a detailed assessment of the commercialization prospect of a new product concerning the initial investment.
Simply put, the analysis allows you to evaluate how profitable the development of a new product is, how quickly it will pay off, and how much income it can bring. That’s why our team puts a lot of focus on this process when developing products from scratch. By the way, our team can conduct the first discovery call for free and discuss your project. To book a call, follow the link.
Product discovery may consist of the following processes:
- Creation of business architecture
- Business case preparation
- Project cost-benefit analysis
- Determination of the project scope
- Determination of restrictions, assumptions and risks
- Project potential assessment
- Identification of project requirements
- Analysis of the necessary business processes
- Requirements documentation
The main benefits that product discovery can give you:
- It will be easier to form an idea
- Understand why you create a particular product
- Decide if the project is worth investing in
- Identify risks and understand if you need to move on
Start with MVP
We recommend that all startups start with MVP. The term Minimum Viable Product was introduced by the founder of the Lean Startup idea, the famous American entrepreneur Eric Ries. It means the earliest version of the product available for testing.
The Minimum Viable Product principle can be briefly described as “Dream big, start small.” It is based on a phased product development, where all iterations are tested on live users. At the same time, feedback allows the company to eliminate risks early, eliminate errors, and check in advance whether there is a demand for their offer.
Here are the three principles of a good MVP:
- This product has enough value that users want to start using it.
- It has the makings of a product that the company plans to develop in the future, making users wait for the final launch.
- It provides the company with feedback on the quality of the product, which helps to take into account all the shortcomings and improve the final version.
Special focus on usability
Usability is a quality indicator that allows you to evaluate the convenience of working with the product interface. Usability includes 5 components of quality:
- Ease of learning: How easy is it for users to complete basic tasks when they first interact with the product?
- Efficiency: How quickly do users complete the same tasks after mastering product interface skills?
- Memorability: How easy can users regain user interface skills after a long period of inactivity?
- Errors: How many errors are made by users using your product, and how serious are they?
- Satisfaction: How pleasant is your product to work with?
There are many other important quality indicators. One of the key metrics is utility, which refers to the functionality of the interface design: does it meet user needs?
Usability and utility play an equally important role in determining software’s usefulness: a product’s ease of use loses all meaning if it does not deliver what users need. That is why it is necessary to pay maximum attention to usability.
Choose the right tech stack
By choosing the right tech stack for your project, you will be halfway to great results. Furthermore, the right stack can save you a lot of money. If you have any questions about this point, we are happy to advise you. We also recommend you to read the article Node.Js Vs. Python: What Does Your Project Need?
Think about a cooperation model
Before you start working on your project, you should choose a suitable model of cooperation with your team. If your idea is clear and does not require any modifications, then we advise you to choose the Fixed Price model. If you need help in the formation of the final idea, then use the hourly rate.
Onboarding is required
Last but not least, don’t forget about onboarding! For as many users as possible to quickly master your product and enjoy its use, onboarding is necessary. Onboarding is a short tutorial on using the product to achieve the main goals. It can be in the form of step-by-step instruction, a video, a separate program, etc.
How to be prepared for a custom software development for startups?
Now let’s discuss how you can best prepare for custom software development for startups:
Formulate your idea and set goals
Creating an idea is a crucial factor but, at the same time, quite dynamic. Often a large number of ideas are generated. They are checked, analyzed, and even begin to be tested. But in the course of work, new, improved ideas arise that make the new product even better.
Our team advises focusing on the problems and tasks of potential clients. The development of a new product with the help of users is an opportunity to quickly generate an idea and create a product with a high market demand level. Its essence is to create what users need.
Often, marketers and analysts take ideas from users, as this helps to reduce development costs and speed up the launch process significantly.
Allocate a budget and set deadlines
Having a well-defined budget and deadlines will help you make your software development process more organized. In addition, allocating a certain amount for the project implementation will increase the chances of its successful completion.
Find a software development team
If you want your new software to be not only successfully created but also become a valuable product in the market, you will need a skilled and talented software development team.
There are many ways how and where to find such a team. We will talk about them in more detail later. But if you are already ready to share your project idea with an experienced development team, Northell is ready to help you turn it into reality.
Choose a development methodology
Approaches to software development determine the project’s success. Without the right methodology, it isn’t easy to achieve product stability, security and stability of functional features. There are several development methodologies (Waterfall, Scrum, Kanban, V-Model, Spiral, Extreme Programming, etc.), but we recommend using the Agile methodology.
In such a model, all life cycle stages are completed within one iteration and are ready for any changes. That is, your project is divided into sprints (periods of time) in which the result should be obtained, usually from one to four weeks. Each sprint has its list of tasks that should be completed by the end of the iteration, and each task has its assessment level.
Top 4 places to hire a great development team
As we said earlier, a good team is key to project success. So let’s look at a few places where you can find such a team:
Usually, on freelance marketplaces, you can find developers who will be ready to complete your project for a small amount. But most likely, the quality will suffer. And to find a good and experienced specialist, you will need to spend quite a lot of time. If you look for a team through freelance marketplaces, pay attention to the rating of specialists, the total number of completed projects and reviews.
You will be more likely to find a professional software development team on social networks such as LinkedIn. First, this is a more specialized website. Secondly, you will be able to evaluate the experience of the team or individual team members, communicate with their representatives, and view, for example, the website of a separate company that offers development services.
Rankings are also a pretty good option for finding a development team. For example, on the website Clutch.co, you can see the results of the team’s projects, their overall rating among other teams, and reviews. Follow the link to see an example of what the design and development team page looks like on this site.
Northell is a top-notch development company that delivers impactful and customized software development services for leading companies and startups across various industries.
Working with startups, we aim to help young and ambitious entrepreneurs enter the market with a first-class product that will win the hearts of millions of users.
Our team ensures excellent performance, compliance with our partner’s requirements, clear code and timely results. We create software that is user-friendly, pleasant to the eye, brand-oriented and scalable.
By choosing us, you will save time on the hiring process, not worry about the security of your data, and gain new knowledge and expertise from our specialists. You can read more about our team here. Also, if you are interested in the topic of hiring narrow-profile specialists, we have prepared some useful materials for you:
- Hire Dedicated Front-End Developers: The Best Option
- How to Hire a Node.js Developer in 2022?
- How to Hire React.js Developers: Step-by-Step Guide
How to build a custom software development process? [6 key stages for startups]
Now let’s look at the process of creating custom software step by step. We have identified 6 main stages that every startup should go through for successful software development.
Stage 1: Business Analysis, competitive analysis and planning
The first step from which you should start custom software development is business analysis. We have already discussed the importance of business analysis and what processes it may include.
You also need to conduct a competitive analysis. For what? This analysis will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, borrow ideas, get inspired, and understand what you need to do to be better. And the last thing is you should plan all your actions. Clear planning will help you control the success of each process and stay on track.
Stage 2: Product logic, wireframes and prototypes
Next, move on to UX design. At this stage, it is essential to build the logic of the product and its structure. You should determine the main screens of your future product and how they will interact with each other. The right structure makes the software more accessible and intuitive.
When you have decided on the structure, you can start creating a prototype. The prototype can be used to attract investors, demonstrate to shareholders, or test on the target audience.
First, a low-detailed wireframe is created – this is a rough sketch of the product screens that shows how everything will work. To create a highly detailed wireframe, you need a detailed layout of the screens and explanations for each element. Later, a visual design is created and strung on an approved wireframe – all that remains is to link all the screens, and voila, you have a clickable prototype that can be tested.
A vivid example of how a product’s UX design should be created is the Oprovi project that our team worked on. Oprovi is a marketplace that connects experts with people looking for advice. It is an MVP project that focuses on helping individuals improve their digital works by getting advice from top specialists.
Our partner had only an idea that we helped to develop and shape to the end. Together we built the entire structure of the platform. Our design team created wireframes and worked on a marketing website. Now the project is still in the process, but it’s already clear how our team was able to turn our partner’s idea into reality.
Stage 3: UX design testing
After the UX design stage is completed, move on to testing it. Compare the result to your expectations and find out what works and what doesn’t. You will understand which features will go into development and which ones should be removed or changed.
There are various testing methods that can help you track user behavior in your software. You can ask a focus group to identify the flaws in your product (qualitative testing) or conduct research on a large sample of users (quantitative testing). There are many options. You can even develop your own, which is suitable specifically for your project.
For example, at Northell, we use our own in-house UX laboratory for testing. Our team uses UX Eye Tracker, which allows exploring user behavior during interaction with the product. Only 1% of companies use this method. User testing with an eye-tracking tool allows us to watch the live eye-tracking stream provided during usability testing.
Stage 4: Design system, UI kit and branding
After you test UX design, start creating UI design. The user interface is the graphical structure of the product. It consists of buttons that users click, texts they read, images, text input fields, and all other elements that the user interacts with. In addition, it includes screen layout, transitions, interface animations, and every micro-interaction.
A well-designed and easy-to-navigate product is much more likely to motivate users to make purchases. By the way, according to Adobe research, 38% of people will leave the site, the design of which will seem unattractive to them.
Stage 5: Сustom startup software development [SDLC]
You can start the development stage after the design is ready and tested. Earlier, we mentioned that building the right software development life cycle is important for success. Here’s what it should look like:
Custom software development
The first thing the custom software development lifecycle starts with is writing code for all product components. To do this, developers use pre-written documentation and a compiled architecture.
Custom software testing
Then QA engineers test all delivered code and carry out manual testing for all developed components. Here are the main QA aspects our engineers use: CI/CD, Integrational, Automation Strategy, Regression, Resource planning.
Custom software deployment & integration
When testing is ready, the team proceeds to the deployment and integration stage. The tested product version is now given to potential users for testing. The team that works on the project collects user feedback and improves the product by correcting bugs and inaccuracies.
The deployment and integration process should be gradual. We advise you, for example, to test several modules and add them to the system. And so with each part of the platform. Integrating everything at once, you may encounter bugs and problems with the system’s functioning.
Custom software maintenance
Once the product is ready to use and has its first users, the team ensures that it runs smoothly. If there are bugs and errors, the team quickly and efficiently fixes them.
Stage 6: Onboarding
Onboarding is an essential part of any product. If you want your software to have as many users as possible, it is vital to show them how your product works. You can implement onboarding into the product itself in the form of videos, animations, individual pages, or an interactive assistant. The most important thing is that after onboarding, users can perform the main actions in your product and achieve their goals.
Challenges you may face during custom software development and their solutions
We are sure that you, as a startup, are interested in what difficulties may arise during custom software development. Naturally, as in any other process, there are pitfalls. Our team has prepared a list of the most common ones and is also ready to share ways to solve them.
Unclear software requirements
Often, startups fail because they do not clearly define the requirements for their software. If you skip this point, you will most likely have problems with the product logic, the mismatch between the result and expectations, product functionality, etc.
Northell solution: Before development, we recommend creating a product requirements document which will include the following:
- full project overview
- main needs and goals
- target audience
- functional requirements and desired set of features
- aesthetic aspects
- non-functional details
- recommendation and prohibitions
You can read more about how to create such a document in our article How To Write The Design Specification? [Quick Guide]
Wrong tech stack
Imagine your startup is a builder, and your product is a house. If you choose the wrong material for your house, it will soon collapse. In your case, the building material is the tech stack. If it’s incorrect or outdated, your product will most likely not function as it should.
Northell solution: Our team uses advanced technologies and modern technical stacks to create software. We recommend using the following tech stacks for front-end development: Angular, Vue.js, React.js., and this for the back-end: Node.js.
Poor project management
Most startups face this difficulty due to a lack of project management experience. Due to poor project management, you will not be able to fully control the implementation of all project tasks and understand at what stage your software development is.
Northell solution: For your project management to be at the highest level, we recommend that you first choose a development team that will already have an experienced PM. Secondly, we advise you to use one tool for communication and one for task management to avoid confusion.
As a communication tool, we recommend using:
- Google Meet
As a task management tool, we recommend using:
Compliance with marketing and global strategy
A marketing strategy is a comprehensive business development plan. It includes all issues related to increasing profits and sales. Unfortunately, many startups miss this moment and, having developed a product, do not know what to do with it next.
Northell solution: We advise you to think in advance about how you will present your product to the world and how you will bring it to the market. On your own or with an experienced marketer, you should study the main market channels, consider partnerships, find suitable promotion methods and try to be better than your competitors.
We will not talk too much about the importance of data security. Surely you do not want your startup’s secret ideas and data to fall into the hands of scammers and cybercriminals. Due to a poor security system, your startup can fail very quickly.
Northell solution: Firstly, we advise you to sign a non-disclosure document when concluding a contract with a development team, as, for example, we do this with our partners. Secondly, our team, for example, uses advanced security software tools (two-factor authentication, encryption tools, etc.).
Keep up with the times
Nobody likes outdated designs or the same type of functionality. It is important to use advanced technologies, modern practices and trends in custom software development for startups. To do this, you need to study the market, research, and borrow ideas from professionals.
Northell solution: Designers and developers of our company are constantly improving their knowledge in the areas in which they work. They also attend various webinars, master classes, and lectures from leading experts. Thus, we always keep up with the times by doing custom software development for startups.
How can Northell help your startup build custom software from scratch?
The Northell team can help you get your startup started right away. We have wide experience in carrying out projects of any size and complexity. Our team has already built 150+ digital products for companies from 45 countries.
Northell showed great results and made:
Clutch’s Top 20 Product Designers & Developers and The Manifest’s Top 4 Product Design Team.
We have worked with such well-known brands as Kickstarter, Careem, Government Of Dubai, AWSM Bank.
The Northell team has expertise in software design and development for the following industries:
While working on projects, we focus as much as possible on our partners’ ideas, requirements and desires. The main thing for us is complete satisfaction with the result!
If you are ready to discuss your plans and startup ideas, contact us. Our team will help you create the best software that will help your startup thrive.
How much does custom software development for startups cost?
The price of custom software development for startups depends on many factors. Among them:
- Country where the development team is located
- Team experience and expertise
- Size of your project
- The complexity of your project
We have prepared for you a price comparison table for various stages of custom software development for startups in different regions:
|Product discovery||UI/UX design||Development||QA|
As you can see, the most attractive region for hiring a design and development team in Eastern Europe. In this location, all the best talents are collected who offer their services at a reasonable price. Therefore, we advise you to look for a team in this region.
Conclusion: Make the most of custom software development for startups
The topic of custom software development for startups is very multifaceted and interesting, but at the same time, complex. We have tried to collect as much useful information as possible for you in this article. In conclusion, let’s highlight the most critical points:
- Every new product starts with an idea
- Custom software development for startups is a complex process with many pitfalls
- For your startup to succeed, you need an experienced and talented team
- It is important to follow the right software development cycle
- The best place to find a team for your project is Eastern Europe
- Believe in yourself and your idea; everything will work out for you!
If you still have any questions, our team will be happy to answer them.