Custom code is like secret code for the average non-coder. There are many languages and methods to writing code, none of which most laypeople will understand. And, as you connect various technologies together with custom code, the site will have to be tested for any bugs. We will explain the basics, and, if your project is severely delayed, and bugs are to blame, there may be deeper problems to assess. We have included some recommendations if you are considering hiring a software or website development company and some best practices to follow before your project begins.
One of the goals of formal programming methodologies is to break concepts down into their base components and deal with each one, one at a time, isolated from all the other thousands of concepts that go into making the thing work.
Programmers often need to create carefully charted and documented inputs and outputs and segmentation charts that describe their code in addition to their code; the reason for all this painstaking compartmentalization is that modern software programs deal with concepts simply too big for a human brain to hold. You have to understand a single piece at a time. To accomplish all of the interlocking pieces of a program, to make a button do something as if by magic when pressed, an almost indescribable number of instructions need to be written to the computer.
There are several hundred thousand lines of code that go into a custom-coded website. Some of them change and evolve over time, necessitating upkeep elsewhere to keep everything agreeing with itself.
This is to say: a cycle of creation, bug testing, and bug fixing is the name of the game, for pretty much all companies. Yes, finding odd bugs on a piece of living software is normal. Pretty much any software that does anything of note will spring leaks and have obscure bugs found over time because they are inhuman amounts of instructions built by humans. Most technology companies have people on staff to test and fix, test and fix.
As a member of the Portland Project Management Institute, I learned that roughly 80% of all software projects do not complete on time and have blown out budgets. Here are the top considerations when hiring a website or software development company for a custom-code:
- Excellence in planning – Does your web team have transparency in planning so you can see the deliverables and timelines by activity?
- Identifying the correct requirements – Has the company clearly communicated in writing all of the requirements needed for your project? Is there something missing? Make sure it is well-documented and get several quotes to see if there is consistency from company to company. Identifying the requirements with granularity will also require a budget and should be factored into the initial investment. Some companies don’t charge for this, and they are sloppy because they have no surety they have secured the business. Then, once they are hired, they will invest the time. Unfortunately, this is not a way to set your expectations for what you will have to invest both in time and money. Pay for requirements gathering! It will prevent scope creep and surprises.
- Plan for the unexpected. Oftentimes customers change the scope of work during the project because new information has arisen. This is ok, but, just know this will affect your budget and may alter completion time.
- Identify contingencies and any uncertainty you have about design or development. If you are waffling on some functionality, discuss with your team first, so if you decide to implement that thing, it can be properly inserted into your design or development schedule. You want to catch any issues at the front end, not the back end when you have Uh-ohs, and major changes have to be implemented. Be prepared for the unknown and factor in a little more in the budget.
- Expertise in coding best practices. The best way forward is design-driven development, and data-driven design which is written specifications that are documented before development and design begin. Changes are always made in the global document, first, so new programmers to the project can follow the plan. This will prevent too many methods from being applied and causing code conflicts. If this happens, your site becomes of the ball of code that can be challenging to sort out and difficult to manage.
- If your team fails to meet timelines, fails to communicate, or is making mistakes as you go along, and only you notice, this is a huge red flag. Stay in control of your project, stop the development and get to the bottom of the problem. If answers from your team feel ambiguous and they are not taking responsibility, there’s a good chance there are organizational and operational issues and it’s time to find a different firm. Transparency is a must.
- If you are uncertain about your project, and are uncomfortable, but don’t know why, feel free to give us a call. Perhaps we can help you get to the bottom of the issue before it turns into something massive and expensive.We have experienced both success and failure at custom code. Marketing EQ worked on a custom-coded website for a local directory and it went live on time and within budget. We worked on another site for an international company that changed project owners mid-project which caused significant delays. That was considered a failure by our standards.