Software development is the ultimate test of patience, problem-solving skills and sheer determination.
But even the most seasoned developers can fall into common pitfalls that throw a wrench into their coding magic.
Yes, I'm talking about those things that seem like a great idea at the time but end up causing chaos and frustration later on.
In this post, I'm going to take you through 5 software development pitfalls that you must avoid like the plague.
So put on your best 'I won't make these mistakes' grin, and let's get started!
Pitfall#1 - Not working on clearly defined requirements
Picture this - You've spent countless hours pouring your heart and soul into a project, only to realize that it's not quite what your client had in mind.
Maybe, the client didn't define their requirements and you didn't bother to make them do so.
The problem is that without clear and specific requirements, you're basically coding in the dark.
And let's be honest, who wants to waste their time building something that nobody wants?
How do you avoid this pitfall?
Here are a few tried and tested ways:
- Conduct stakeholder interviews
- Create user stories
- Clarify vague or conflicting requirements
Pitfall#2 - Underestimating the Time and Effort Required
This one's my favourite. I have seen it happen so many times that if I give myself a dollar for every time I saw it, I'd be a millionaire by now.
It's the good old game of 'How quickly can I get this done?'
For some reason, software developers are guilty folks. When someone asks them to provide an estimate, they always think that they are doing something wrong by giving a reasonable number.
I really wish developers would cut themselves some slack.
Creating software is like a puzzle with a million pieces. And if you don't account for each and every one of those pieces and then some more, things can get messy pretty fast.
Here are some things you can do to avoid falling into the trap of missed deadlines and reduced quality:
- Be realistic about the time and effort required for a particular requirement.
- Use project management tools to keep yourself in check.
- Regularly revisit your project timeline to make sure you stay on track.
Pitfall#3 - Neglecting User Feedback
User feedback is like the voice of the people and the pulse of the product.
Don't be that developer who shuts their ears to the words of the user.
Of course, it does not mean that you agree to all their demands even if they are impossible. But your attempt should be to collaborate with them to deliver the best possible product.
When in doubt, remember that software development is all about solving problems for real people. If you neglect the feedback of the user, you risk everything.
I suggest that you should always try to understand the user's viewpoint before starting to write code. That will tell you the WHY of the product.
Conduct user testing, show prototypes and incorporate feedback into your development plans. Take more time if needed. Trust me, your users will thank you.
Pitfall#4 - Not Doing Proper Testing and Debugging
"We will figure it out later".
This is the single biggest lie in software development. Your job as a software developer is to figure things out before they happen.
Just like a tightrope walker needs a net, your code needs proper testing and debugging to keep it from crashing down.
Neglecting these steps can lead to all sorts of issues like slow performance and a string of bugs.
While building your application, dedicate time for both automated testing and manual testing along with debugging.
Don't be in a rush to deliver software before all the major issues are fixed.
Pitfall#5 - Neglecting Security
Don't be that guy! Trust me, there's no fun in that.
Yes, I'm talking about the developer that ignores security.
As a developer, it's your job to conduct regular security audits, use secure coding practices and stay up-to-date with the latest security trends.
However, even if you are not experienced enough in complicated security matters, you should not feign ignorance.
Try to find someone who knows about it. Ask around and take help. Get your application reviewed by the security department if there's one. Delay the project if you must but don't take security matters for granted, or you'll be sorry!
That's it for now!
These are the 5 must-avoid pitfalls that I could think of right now.
But there may be more. Don't hesitate to write about them in the comments section below. After all, software developers should have each other's back.
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Top comments (2)
I find that when doing estimations, it's important to factor in extra time to cover any unforeseen challenges and complexities. I like to multiply the estimate by 1.5 to account for these potential issues (e.g. if I think it's going to take 3 days, then my estimate would really be 4.5 days).
If the task turns out to be even more complex than expected even with this extra buffer time, then I think it's crucial to communicate this well in advance, so that you can manage expectations and perhaps rethink the solution.
How do you usually go about estimating time required? Whether that's in days, story points, or T-Shirt sizes, how do you take a requirement, break it down, and decide how long that requirement would take?
Well, earlier we tried to use story points within the project that I was working with. But most developers weren't so keen on giving their estimates based on an abstract number.
After some experimentation, we settled for hours. As far as accounting for unforeseen challenges, I agree with your multiplication concept. We have something similar but we also account for the team's maturity at any given point in time. If there are new folks in the team, we multiply by 2.5. And if the team is really experienced on a given system, we even bring the factor down to 1.5. So, there is a lot of leeway in terms of how the final estimate goes to the customer.
Of course, the concern of the team is mostly to break down the big requirements into smaller tasks and they don't worry about the factoring aspect. The ideal case is to not have any single task exceed 6-8 hours or more breakdown may be required.
At the end of the day, there is a lot of flexibility involved with the ultimate aim of not disappointing the client by delivering much later than committed. But no process is foolproof and sometimes, unexpected things are found after the estimation is provided.