If you’ve never designed and built software yourself, it’s very easy to become frustrated with the time and cost it takes to create an app or website that looks and works exactly as you want.
A project manager or business analyst may assume designing a great website or app is as simple as breaking the project down into individual tasks and getting the designers and software engineers to complete those tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible.
What’s lost in this world view is that true software design and development is a craft, and it can’t easily be turned into a factory or assembly line style of production.
If you want a website or app that truly becomes a success (an app that people find a joy to use and tell their friends about), you’ll need to use designers and developers who see their work as a craft. Working on each individual feature with the a highly thought-out approach ensuring that the app will be intuitive to use.
Rob Walling (founder of Drip and other startups) explains this very well on one of his podcast episodes:
Software development is a craft. Software development is not manufacturing.
The difference is (to) build really good software you need craftspeople and you can’t do this by building an assembly line.
You can build a car on a manufacturing line, but it’s much harder to build an amazingly intricate piece of art, or a piece of furniture on an assembly line that takes a craftsperson. There’s just a certain element of creativity and craft that you need.
You can build sh*t software by building an assembly line…but good software development is craft, and when I’ve seen manufacturing lines at big companies with 20, 30 or 40 developers, and they want to quantify stuff like lines of code written or number of bugs fixed – that’s when you go down the road which ends in two major problems;
a) releasing crappy software, and
b) seeing all your good developers quit
– From Episode 495 of Startups for the Rest of Us (minute 21 onwards).
So the question is – do you want an okay app or website that does the job but is buggy and makes your users frustrated when they use it? If so, that’s fine, any competent designer and developer will do (and there are situations and projects where that might make sense).
But if you need a beautiful app or website that works seamlessly, looks beautiful, and makes life better for your users, that’s when you need to make sure you’re using craftspeople for your job. These are people that love their craft and only design and build apps and websites they’re proud to have their name behind.
Think of an app or website you really love, and I guarantee you there are true craftspeople on their team that made it happen.