Custom Web Software Development

When you have a great idea, sometimes you need the right outlet to express it. When the idea needs to be on the web, there isn’t always the right solution available to help turn your dreams into a reality.

Many times people spend tens of thousands of dollars on having Content Management Systems similar to WordPress custom developed, only to find out that they should have just used web development solutions that were unique and created specifically for their needs, using WordPress as a base.

This is how custom web development helps your ideas come to fruition. With software there is typically many ways to skin-a-cat, so-to-speak. Our goal is to always help you with the best solution for you based on the priorities of your business.

Primary factors we take into consideration, when presenting and recommending options, are: desired functionality, required integrations, end-user groups and target audiences, schedule requirements and of course, budget.

Our goal is to provide you with the most reliable and cost-effective custom software solution. We follow industry-standard best practices, to ensure your custom software development is done right, the first time. We can also make sure that it has the ability and room to grow in the future. Don't forget to let us know about future growth plans.

What Is Custom Web Software?

Custom web development is like having a new website on steroids. We use a proven development process that produces a custom web solution that can help your small business achieve the results you've been searching for and haven't been able to find.

Web software can be defined as: "a software platform that allows users to communicate, transmit, and store various forms of data across an internet connection." Custom Web Software comes in three basic varieties: Custom Web Applications, Custom Mobile Applications, and Custom Software that simply uses the web as a connection between individual software users.

Custom developed web-based software of any of these varieties, needs to always maintain an excellent user experience for both the business owner and their prospects and customers. In fact, search engines now base their ranking algorithms with the user experience in mind.

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Custom Web Apps

Before we get into the various aspects of custom web applications, let's make sure there is a base understanding. There is a difference between mobile apps and web apps. There is also a difference between custom web apps and web site apps like blogs, events, news stories, etc.

Benefits of Custom Web Applications

The biggest benefit of the custom web app is that it is, well... "Custom". It is intended to perform specific tasks and manage information a specific way. The data that gets handled and the operations that are available to be performed on it are custom and as such, your options abound.

The great news about web applications today is that they are virtually limitless in the scope of their capability. If there is a way for a computer to logically perform the task, then that function can likely be completed as part of the application.

This opens up a great amount of opportunity for businesses that have some interaction with their customers and employees online, to do a portion of their business management in an online platform.

If you put together a web application to run your business 15-20 years ago, you already know the pain involved in its inability to be used on mobile devices. That is because there were very few if any, mobile devices that readily used web technology in the year 2000. Therefore there were no standards for it.

Today the industry standard has a name. Mobile-Responsive or mobile-friendly is the web standard for web design, today. In fact if the web design inherent in your website is not mobile responsive it is likely that you will have issues with getting ranked by google even if you are paying for SEO services.

Google now indexes websites for ranking based on many factors but from a mobile-first perspective. So getting a responsive web design could be vital to the overall success of your endeavor. This is especially true if your clientele find you through online searches.

All web application developers know that one of the biggest factors driving costs in your web design are: custom application functionality and custom solutions for integrating with third party data. Many times integrating with that data is as simple as using an application program interface (API).

All of this leads us to one of our favorite topics when choosing the option that is right for your unique business needs. That is lifetime operating costs.

The beauty of this solution, is that it keeps the long-term maintenance costs of your platform to a minimum because you maintain your "website", which has the business software integrated into it.

Most businesses require some form of desktop access for their business management suite of tools. Mobile applications don't provide that. Therefore in order to have both a special mobile app plus your web app, it now requires upkeep and maintenance on two platforms.

Since the web app is inherently capable on both desktop and mobile environments, it becomes a single source to update and maintain, thus lowering your costs.

In the world of e-commerce the shopping cart is an example of a simple web application. In the world of finance, a platform that helps track and manage a trading portfolio for day-traders, is an example of a more complex web application.

Negatives about Custom Web Applications

As far as custom web applications is concerned there is really only one large issue. That is, if there is no internet access there is no software capability on the device. It is only available as an online platform.

Mobile Application Software

Mobile applications are called by many different names: online apps, mobile apps, iPhone apps, smartphone apps, android apps, or even plain old "apps". One thing is for certain, a mobile app, by any name, is an application that is intended to be installed and used on a mobile device.

Mobile devices tend to come in one of two varieties: smartphone and tablet. As such mobile apps are intended to work specifically on these types of devices only. A mobile app is generally an individual unit of software that has specific and limited functionality. They are also usually only available through the app store on their mobile device or the application provider's website.

A very simple example of a mobile app is one of the many forms of "Solitaire" that help you unwind while you are on your mobile device. A more comlex version is this would be an application provided by your bank to access and perform banking actions within your account.

Benefits of Mobile Applications

The mobile app is very similar to the web app in many ways especially in the mobile-responsive design. Since these applications are specifically geared toward a specific device they always look good on that device.

Typically the app will have limited functionality compared to what is available on an associated web application available through the desktop. However, what sets the mobile application apart from the web application is its ability to be used locally by the device holder even if there is no current internet connection.

The device can simply uses device resources to store all relevant data from servers locally so that it can function accordingly even without that vital connection. Applications that allow that type of activity will most certainly continue to look for an internet connection and synchronize all relevant data once the connection has been established.

Negatives about Mobile Applications

The largest negatives are increased maintenance costs and cross-platform duplication. Typically the mobile app is a limited version of a web app or is an app needed on multiple platforms (Android and Apple). As such there are additional maintenance costs inherent in your mobile app.

If you have the need for your app to be used on multiple device types your development costs are typically duplicated, at least in part. Additionally, it can require the use of different skill sets and as a result, a larger team.

In order to maintain high-quality application development, your development team will need to include both app developers as well as, web developers to ensure quality web design services are included in your web apps and other web solutions.

Custom Software

Custom software is software that is written for a specific platform. Custom software is usually compiled into either an executable or install file. The file is uploaded or placed in the hard drive of the desired platform and installed accordingly.

A mobile app like the previously mentioned bank app, is technically a form of custom software. However, that same functionality can be written into a platform specific to a Windows desktop or MacOS environment, therefore it can be more than just a mobile application.

Software of this nature, may interface with the internet, however, it is not through a website, like you would access a web app. Custom software interfaces directly with the data source and allows the user to interface with that data per the functionality provided through the software platform.

Benefits of Custom Software

One of the benefits of custom software is the ability to customize functionality and make it specific to a particular device platform or operating system. In doing so the software is able to run much faster than in a web application because the software was compiled prior to being installed.

In a web app, the source code is compiled by either the server or the client computer on-the-fly, whereas, custom software was compiled using the necessary hardware language (again device and OS specific) for the software to run in the appropriate environment in a ready-to-be-served state, thus providing operation efficiency.

API and custom interface are not an issue with custom software but again this can be a platform specific issue if the API doesn't natively support a specific device platform or operating system.

Another benefit of the custom software is inherent in the nature of the compiled software. It is harder to interject a security weakness in software that has already been compiled than in software that is compiled on the fly. As a result, your custom software has "enhanced secruity". Of course it is not the final answer on your system security, it is simply an added bonus.

Negatives about Custom Software

As with application software this type there do tend to be additional costs both in development and in maintenance. With this type of software there could be additional expenses to support various device platforms and operating systems and also additional costs due to the languages the software is written in to begin with.

The more difficult languages C, C++, C#, and Java tend to be sought after languages in DoD contracts, and other corporations that develop highly integrated systems. As a result these skill-sets can cost considerably more for both development and maintenance.

COTS or Commercial-Off-the-Shelf Software Options

A budget-conscious software consumer should look seriously at COTS options. A business owner in the initial growing phases of their business may not be able to buy a custom software package but can certainly fit moderately well into the budget of a COTS Solution.

In many cases a business owner will find the trade-offs he made in desired functionality were well-worth the cost savings simply because of the near-term benefit. In fact, that is one of the primary benefits of COTS software.

A good example of a COTS software solution is the Microsoft Office Suite.

Benefits of COTS Software

While cost is one of primary benefits it is not the only one. The pre-built functionality means there is no development time necessary to get to your "launch date".

Another benefit of COTS software is that if you pay a standard "maintenance fee" monthly or annually, you end up getting regular updates for both functionality and security.

Negatives about COTS Software

The downside to COTS software is the reason that we are in business. COTS software is limited to the functionality that was built in the standard design. It is not customizable to your needs.

While some do allow for custom integration, to use the COTS software in custom ways usually requires having a special skill set to do the initial build-out, as well as to handle maintenance. Many times the time to build-out is usually similar to custom solutions. Although to be fair custom solutions typically take longer.

Finally, API integration capabilities are generally very limited with COTS Software. In most cases these capabilities are limited strictly to the options permitted by the COTS software development organization.

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Software Development Life-Cycle

The process for turning your idea into software is simple yet dynamic. While some business' needs may be similar, no two are alike. For this reason, each development plan is unique, yet the overall process uniform.

This uniform yet flexible approach allows us to approach your project with operational efficiency. It also helps us to quickly get to the heart of your specific needs, to ensure your custom design meets your true business needs.

Our project managers are highly-experienced in getting all the relevant information from you about your desires and translating those into an easy to follow plan.

In addition to your project manager helping guide you through the process, our team of experts meet with you virtually through video and phone conferences several times throughout your project.

This enables our web developers to create a custom web design to your exact specifications. It also allows you an opportunity to provide input throughout the design process.

You project will be broken up into several sections or milestones that will be used to show achievement in bringing your idea to life. There will be a timeline associated with each milestone will be carefully followed.

You can expect your project to be developed using this basic process. Individual milestones will be task and schedule based and include items in this process:

  1. Architect
  2. Design
  3. Develop
  4. Test
  5. Release
  6. Maintain

After each milestone is completed, we will conduct a demonstration of the current progress. You will be asked to review and give your input at this time.

Upon receiving your input, we will make any adjustments and proceed in beginning on the next milestone. This will continue until all milestones and the project has been completed.

At that time will conduct a final demonstration and education on the appearance, use, and functionality of your custom web design and software.

We will ask for your final input and approval. If there are changes to be made they are done at this time and if no changes need to be made, we then schedule a launch date.

At the launch date the site will be made live and you'll be able to enjoy your new custom software.

We also offer continued support for your custom website if you choose.

Architecture Development

The architecture development phase is one of the most important in the life-cycle. This is due to the nature of architecture. When developing software there are 3 primary types of architecture. These are: Information Architecture, Database Architecture, and the architectural framework of the software itself.

Information Architecture

If you have a website then you are looking to educate, inform, entertain, or sell to someone. For this reason, the information on your pages and throughout the website should have a purpose as well as, a logical flow.

The information that is on any particular page should adhere to the purpose of that page and also follow a logical flow. A simple example of this, is a page that helps sell a service. The page is a typical "service" page for a service-based business.

That page should start with some brief intro to the product with a call-to-action (CTA) to "act now". However, this should be immediately followed by some additional information about the service. The information in consideration could be text, images, videos, or any form of downloadable information.

Once you have provided additional information you should provide another opportunity for action through another CTA. This pattern can be followed throughout the page, as long as it is relevant to do so. Keep user experience in mind.

Above that is the Site Informational Architecture. This is the level of information architecture that determines the organization of information on the site. This includes how people navigate to information: menus, sub-menus, internal links and such.

Probably the most important part of information architecture is the database where much of the information is stored. In fact it is so important, we discuss it separately and individually.

Database Architecture

There are many considerations in determining which database architecture to use. Foremost in this decision is the type of information that will be stored in the database. For this reason there are many database types to build:

  • Hierarchical databases
  • Network databases
  • Relational databases
  • Object-oriented databases
  • Graph databases
  • ER model databases
  • Document databases
  • NoSQL databases

Depending on the type of database you need, you will then determine the database framework: MySQL, MSSQL, Oracle, etc.

Software Framework Architecture

The software framework can also be a complex decision making process. If you are building a simple website and simply need to make static information available to your clients, then a simple html website will be the way to go.

If you are looking to do some basic customized functionality on a limited budget, it may be best to use a Content Management System (CMS) base and write custom PHP code to perform the desired functionality.

Let's say your business is well established and you really want to take your business management software to the next level with custom functionality, you could put our many years of experience to better use on an MVC-base like Laravel for a custom web app or even write a custom software solution for in-house use.

Custom Web Design

There are 2 primary design elements that our programmers consider in your custom software development project. These are the user-interface (UI) and the user-experience (UX).

UI Design

A lot of hard work goes into making the UI. Central Florida Media Solutions wants to make sure you are as impressed as your clients will be. For this reason we like to focus on making the logo a focal point of the website style.

The style and the logo should compliment one another. Colors on the website should be complimentary of the logo colors and vice versa. The font styles should also compliment one another.

Additionally styled items that break up information on the page and the page itself should be well thought out and designed to enhance the overall appearance of the site and the way the user interfaces with it.

UX Design

Our team of custom web developers puts a great deal of effort into ensuring the user experience is chief among our decision-making process for your online presence. A large part of that is ease of use. If a user visits a website that is difficult to navigate and hard to find information, it is highly unlikely that they will stick around.

Another user that we take into consideration in the design process is the support team. We understand that initial design has a lot of bearing on whether a site is easy to maintain or not. Typically the more complex a platform is, the more ongoing support it will need.

Whether we are building a custom CMS, an online store or a custom web platform for a large enterprise to interface with each of their vendors, we make sure the entire process is smooth for each user.

Custom Web Development

Once the design is complete it is time to get started on the development. If the right decisions were made in the design process the development can happen at a fast rate. The top 3 items that need to take place during this phase are: front-end development, back-end development, and integrations with any 3rd party external dependencies.

Front-End Development

When developing a website, the front-end is typically considered to be the part of the website that renders and functions on the client-side using languages like html, css, AJAX, and javascript.

This work is crucial for speeding up the site for ranking purposes. It is also the place where most animation occurs that make sites look so cool in the 2020's.

Since it is easy to leverage the sources on a client computer and reduce the load on the server, it is becoming more and more common in modern websites. This allows for increased server loads on fewer server resources.

Back- End Development

Back-end development is typically referred to the development on languages that work on the server side like PHP, Perl, Ruby, and Java. The back-end deve team will also be responsible for interfacing with the database through languages like MySQL.

This work is vital because much of the heavy lifting of the functionality is built here. Much of the data handling happens on this level of development.

Back-end developers are also typically responsible for any necessary integration with 3rd party applications.

Integration with External Dependencies

Many website owners find themselves in need of third party integration or integration with external sources. Whether it is a payment portal, vendor API, or other custom interfaces, they need info from elsewhere.

This can become a problem with many web developers who are technically nothing more that WordPress Jockeys, who really only specialize in developing WordPress solutions.

Third party integration is one of our specialties. You will always be in good hands when we perform your integration.

Test & Quality Assurance

This can be one of the most trying times in the life of a custom software development company. In fact, most companies' estimates fall apart during this phase. Whether the integration took longer or was harder than anticipated or it was simply left out of the plan, many companies start showing strain here.

Having had this experience in a myriad of industries and clients we've seen it all. As a result we expect issues to arise and we plan for it. This ensures that there will be no surprise costs at the end.

Release & Launch

Once the software is complete and quality assured it is ready for release to the client and launch on their platform of choice. We will make sure to re-test functionality once final launch happens to ensure there are no glitches in the system in it new location.

If it is a complex release there will typically be some form of documentation that accompanies the release.

Maintain

After the software has been released it will enter the maintenance phase. During this phase the site needs to be monitored for updates in the surrounding frameworks and architecture to ensure proper compliance with software and security updates throughout the software package.

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