21st Century, using, building and integration of software across industries are more of a necessity. If your product or solution does not require interaction with any sort of technology, then probably you are a time traveller from the 80s. Building a product or solution for this generation requires an interface with technology either for delivery, communication or production, this means that at some point your product must need technology to scale and if you are not adopting or integrating technology into what you are building then be rest assured your competitors will, it only good that you are ahead.
This is not technical writing for how to build software or when to build one, this is aimed at explaining the process and components involved in building one.
This is to provide you with an overview so that when you are looking to build your product, where it may require you to own the Software as a product, integration of software or just a simple solution using tech, before employing a software developer or software consultancy, you will be able to identify the process, duration, manpower and resources required before kickoff.
Software is like a physical product you may pick off the shelf. Take a book for example; to own a book you must purchase one (the user), from a bookstore (the interface), the bookstore has a stack of books (the database), and someone will need to attend to you at the time you are purchasing it (the server).
Now your favourite bookstore was built by a few people; let’s say the structure was design to accommodate at least 10 customers at a time (software architecture), the bricklayers (the developers) did a good job to achieve that, but only with the help of a good architect (User Experience developers) and the painters (User Interface Designers) did a nice job adapting calm colours for the store. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Now the stacked books are categorized in shelves so you know where every genre is located (Data Scientist), each shelf in the bookstore has been checked for things like title arrangements, shelves strengths, health hazard and insects (software tester), the bookstore has never lacked a title you request or whenever you need a new edition (deployment), and this bookstore is open 24 hours a day (you know this).
With the little description of software as a product, it fair to also mention that software is not necessarily an application you install in your computer, Facebook is a software, Google is a software and WhatsApp these are all software but some are only usable on the web or mobile.
It doesn’t matter how you want your software to be used, it all has the same components as described in the bookstore analogy.
When building a software, the primary purpose is to deliver a solution to a user, this could be a person, business, a service or a device.
Always have the user in mind when building your product, what do you want the user to achieve. This is your job as the product owner.
This is the product’s look and feels, the end delivery of the product. This is what the user will interact with, this is the image that defines you as a brand or a person to your users. A User Interface should be simple to use and not with too many information as not to confuse the user.
As a product or software, you will have visitors, users, returning users and storage of goods or services you own. The information that will help you identify the user, the goods or services for the users are all going to be stored, the database will collect all information and also serve when requested by you, a user or a service.
This is the product section that interacts with the database, provide security and also maintain the activities of the software.
As all these are required the software also needs to reside somewhere, this is where your users will visit whenever they wish to access and interact with your software, it’s highly recommended that delivery is not delayed and always reachable. This could be on a single computer (not advised) or in the cloud (another topic).
The process and resources of building software are not something one person put together not even you.
Let me take you through.
As mentioned, this includes the colours, segmentation and data presentation of the software.
For an interface to meet the international practice, a User Experience developer will have to put together something called a prototype; this is a proposed skeleton look-alike of the software, this will help you decide how to present your click sections, segment arrangements and data placements.
After the User Experience developer, a User Interface Designers will put a face to the skeleton, giving it colours, providing responsiveness and accessibility for all users. This stage is to give you and the developers the look of what to produce, at this stage making corrections are easily effective.
After the User Interface Design, the Frontend Developer’s job start, this is the stage where the software or product starts to come to live, clickable and navigation are visible at this stage. A Frontend Developer will write software codes to bring your product to life.
At the end of this stage, you have a full User Interface of your product.
You should provide resources such as Logo, Images, product description, company description, your contact details and any assets you will want to see on the software.
This is also referred to as the Backend.
For the backend to effectively serve your software, few things you must put into consideration include security of your software and your users, speed of accessing your stored information, and authentication or authorization of users.
At this stage, a backend developer will write software codes that implement authentication and authorization checks, interacts with a database, make sure data sent to the user is the data requested at the time and also identify returning users. At the stage, your product is interacting with both the database and the user interface.
You should provide resources such as what user information you want to store, what information you want to present to the user, how you want to authenticate a user and how to authorize the user.
Whatever your product, you will need somewhere it resides. Probably your software is an in-house use product it still needs to be deployed for usage and access, this is called a Server.
For effective and reliable delivery, a cloud solution is recommended, otherwise, any will still do. A server manager will package all the codes and assets for deployment, at this stage also a security layer required which is to encrypt your data interaction session. The package codes will be transferred to a server and it’s ready for your users to access.
You should provide resources such as a server where your product will reside, an address where your user will access the product and also a security protocol you want it to use.
Before I move on, let me take you back to the bookstore analogy again, and just ask yourself, can one man build a bookstore? I’m guessing your answer is no, so why would you think one man can build software.
Just like we had use employed some professionals to build the bookstore, we also need more than one professional to produce software.
The Product Owner responsibility is to describe the product in details and identify deliverable of the product this could be you the entrepreneur, but it is recommended you employ a professional that can communicate your idea to the developers.
User Experience Developer (UX).
The UX’s responsibility is to produce a sketch of the product for better description between the developers, product owner and potential users.
User Interface Designer (UI).
The UI designer’s responsibility is to place colours, images, define the screen sizes and identify accessibilities and responsiveness of the software.
The Frontend Developer’s responsibility is to write the codes, that is to translate the design into usable software.
The Backend Developer’s responsibility is to write the server-side codes for database interaction.
Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer.
For software to meet industry’s standard some recommendations must be put in place, it is the responsibility of the QA Engineer to make sure these recommendations are met and that the software will not fail to run properly once deployed.
Once your software is deployed for your users, it needs maintenance and regular updates to keep it running at all time. It’s the responsibility of the Server Manager to always make sure the server is up and running at all time.
As an entrepreneur, this may sound more like too much or overkill for your small project or budget, they are consultants or organization with all these mentioned professionals as a team or a built product to provide some of these as a service, a little research will get you started.
That said, I’m going to repeat it. Please do not employ a single person to do all these.