[–]bryandurkin 3 points4 points  (1 child)

But also I think that the goals of the website or application that they are developing should be clearly understood. People I deal with (on the business side) have no clue as to why certain sites and applications are successful or not. They are not even sure what they really want. Wireframing is excellent but unfortunately I really suck at it. I use a marker and printer paper w/my scanner. :) Great thread.

[–]almithani[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah, I completely agree. Often people start half-cocked and they are off to the races before completely understanding the market. I actually always like to start with a little strategy session first thing.

"What's the big picture vision/goal?" - needs to be narrow enough to actually focus our thinking, but big enough to allow room to maneuver. This should be the core goal of the company and probably will never change. Something like "We're going to help freelancers work more efficiently"

"What's our strategy?" - The 6-12 month actions of the company to achieve the vision. These are reviewed and updated regularly. Something like "We will create a time tracking app to help freelancers save time"

"What are our tactics?" - The steps we're taking to achieve the strategic goals. I never discuss these in executive-level meetings, because it's so easy to get bogged down. Something like "We will market the app through Reddit"

The great part is that you can validate the vision, the strategy AND the tactics pretty easily by talking to people in your market - some people are just too lazy to do that.

Thanks for the feedback!

[–]xbtdev 2 points3 points  (4 children)

I like to use my wire as a guinea pig.

Your wire sounds awesome. You should marry it.

Great post by the way. One extra thing to think about is, who will transcribe or enter the plan into a 'to-do' list or ticket system? Most big companies use something like bugzilla to track what the programmers are doing... I'd recommend getting familiar with such a tool even if you're just hiring one guy.

[–]almithani[S] 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Haha, I ninja edited the post so my wire wouldn't get mad =x

What ticket system do you use? I actually choose my ticket system based on the team. I am currently using (in order of complexity): Google Spreadsheets, Streak (gmail plugin), Wrike, JIRA.

In my experience, having someone dedicated to updating/maintaining the tickets usually works much better than having everyone update themselves. I tell programmers to update status, but update everything myself.

[–]xbtdev 1 point2 points  (2 children)

What ticket system do you use?

As an employee, I started out using bugzilla, then as an entrepreneur, I had huge hassles trying to get it set up, and in the end resorted to using Mantis, simply because it's PHP based (my problems with bugzilla mostly stemmed from lack of perl knowledge).

But since then, I've actually had my guys develop a completely custom bugtracker from scratch. I did this for a few reasons:

  • we can have all the features we want, without the bloat we don't need getting in the way
  • our bugtracker is based on bootstrap by twitter, so it's very useable on mobile phones (unlike bugzilla and mantis)
  • it's built in to our company site so that we only have 1 website to log in to, rather than a separate bugtracker login. (This means it also ties in with other company-website functions and we can make it integrate more tightly with our repo server, etc.)

Eventually, I'll probably publish it somewhere for others to use.

In my experience, having someone dedicated to updating/maintaining the tickets usually works much better than having everyone update themselves. I tell programmers to update status, but update everything myself.

This is not my experience. The first thing we do each day as programmers (I'm also one of the 'devs' despite managing the other devs), is log in to our company site and see the tickets that are assigned to us. I mostly do the initial write up and assignment, but after that the programmer assigned to it 'collects' it (marks it as "in progress"), then when appropriate sets it to "ready for testing", etc which assigns it back to me or the default tester for that project... anyway, it works for us.

[–]almithani[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Do you use the same system for planning work and noting bugs?

[–]xbtdev 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Kind of... well 'planning' the work (i.e. designing the project) is mostly just done by me at this point, and that's often pen and paper.

But if you mean are 'features' and 'bugs' written up in the same ticket system, then yes. It's our overall 'to-do' management system.

[–]batwingsuit 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Great post. I'd just like to ad that a mockup can be pretty much anything, whereas a wireframe should only show the structure of your information and interaction with that information—no visual design. Think boxes, lines, text, arrows, and labels. The point of wireframing is to really focus on information hierarchy and interaction and not get distracted by how things will look. Wireframes should be quick and dirty, and look like it! Whoever is looking at them should by no means think they are looking at a visual design for your app/site.

[–]almithani[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Nice distinction! I prefer the term 'wireframe' myself, but found that most people use the term 'mockup', so I chose that term to allow people to understand me.

[–]Police_Telephone_Box 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Screw wireframes. I build out HTML and CSS mock ups. Basically everything functions but no back end.

I do this not only to show exactly how thing feel flowing together but to really work out the ux.

Right now I am validating an idea with potential customers. If we did not tell them it wasn't a working product, they would be none the wiser.

[–]mrsoul83 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I'm doing exactly this right now ! I've spent one weekend on codecademy and youtube tutorials, and now I am slowly building my HTML/CSS (with a bit of JS soon I hope !), and it is sooooo much more benefical, as it raises so many new questions.

[–]Police_Telephone_Box 0 points1 point  (1 child)

"as it raises so many new questions"

You have no idea. Really focus on writing valid, semantic HTML. CA and YT are great resources but they wont show you everything or even a lot of best practices.

After you lock down the basics, I would recommend checking out some front-end frameworks like Foundation or Bootstrap. Both are great. I use Foundation for everything.

After you get the basics of CSS locked down, check out theSass/SCSS CSS per-processor. Some might argue with me but IMO there really is no reason to write vanilla CSS anymore. I started using it 2 years ago and have never gone back.

Good luck remember to ask questions and post some of your work to r/designcritics for some good feedback.

[–]mrsoul83 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Great. I had a look at bootstrap yesterday, and will definitely start working with it once the front end design will look serious enough. And thanks for the subreddit r/designcritics, I will use it for some early opinions !

[–]killerstorm 1 point2 points  (1 child)

It's worth noting that use cases/user stories have value on their own. Perhaps even more important than mock-ups.

[–]batwingsuit 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yup! Those should be clear even before wireframing.

[–]GotsMahBox 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I can't believe everyone doesn't do this. To me it seems obvious that if I am going to meet someone I will likely be paying a good amount of money to I should come prepared.

[–]almithani[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Agreed, it's like people are just throwing their money away!

I think it stems from the fact that most people just find programmers to be these quasi-mysterious entities that are supposed to be app-making machines, and are unsure how to approach them.

[–]sendmorewhisky 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Where you start is with a business model. This is a great post on where to start when building a website though. Maybe share it with /r/startups too, but around here i think it's important to recognize there's more to building a business than building a website or landing page.

[–]almithani[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I like to use the business model canvas to quickly and easily see if my business has any legs. It gives you a great framework to start validating, and it's easy to change if you find your assumptions don't hold up.

[–]Djmanc 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Good post. I'd recommend axure for wireframes. Super light weight and powerful.

[–]s-c 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Agreed, nice post. A lot of people are visual, like myself. You hear "create a mock up!" but have no idea what that may look like. This is a fantastic example.

[–]almithani[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That's exactly why I created this post. Thanks for the feedback!

Feel free to ask if you have any questions when you start creating your own mockups.

[–]druudles 0 points1 point  (1 child)

WTF? How can people not do a mock up or have something like a basic, initial MVP design down on paper before they engage a developer? It's just amateur and shows lack of preparation and thought.

Do people actually do this in the world of Entrepreneurship?

[–]almithani[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

People are often blinded by their own idea. To them, it's obvious (which is probably why so many beginner entrepreneurs are reluctant to share their ideas as well), so they expect everyone to understand them when they finally say something about it.

That's not to say their ideas are bad, they just aren't fully formed. They just need help with the process.

[–]SnapUpRealEstate 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Great outline! I thought this was going to be about how to start a business (since it's in the Entrepreneur sub), but nonetheless, very relevant. It's actually a pretty good plan to follow for even starting a business. Do a mockup model on paper yourself. If you can't get through that, you probably aren't going to persist in the business.

Let me know if you need any help on the business side of things.

[–]almithani[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks for the feedback. I'm not actually building this app, it was purely a simple example to illustrate what a mockup might look like.

[–]davidbun 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Well, I will suggest to read Lean Startup by Eric Ries. The reason is to understand why you are creating prototypes. Its NOT for your programmers, its for your customers (THIS IS IMPORTANT). For most customers Landing page is enough to understand what's the idea is. I am completely sure if a user can get what the product is, the programmer will get how the code should be written. Then, the art of agile management will grow up. Just the product owner should communicate the idea well enough for anyone, take for example castly.co

[–][deleted] -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Nice post. Deserves some upvotes.

[–]edcxsw1 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

In my opinion, if you are a programmer working for anyone... you are wasting your life. I like how programmers come on here and brag that they know everything about life... when really the jokes on them because they can't build their own company

[–]Kumzy -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Well, I think mockups are really good but I always do a BMC (Business Model Canvas) to have a overview of the project with the clients, ressources, ...

[–]TheeImmortal -3 points-2 points  (0 children)

90% of tech startups fail.

Get out of that industry.

You'll save your fleeting life and precious time, 90% of the time.

With so many industries to choose from, why waste time on a website or app?