Nov 13

A difference in philosophy…

As we’ve been starting to market JumboLogic, we’ve gotten a few recurring questions and I wanted to share with you our thoughts on some of them.

Q: JumboLogic seems to limit me to designing rough interfaces without all the interface interaction and simulation abilities I seem to have with programs like Axure, iRise, etc.
A: Theoretically, if you create a good enough simulation of the interfaces then the customer and your team will fully understand how the interface will work.  In practice this is never the case.  To create a full simulation of your app before you build it is either not possible or will take so long that it is no longer worth it.  Interface designers resort to “and it will do <this>… just use your imagination” and “trust us”.  Some go so far as to quickly program an interface to demonstrate it to a client if they can’t see it.  JumboLogic acknowledges this limitation and gives you what is really useful.

Q: Interfaces made in other programs are prettier!
A: Yep.  This is a planning tool not a graphic design tool.  We found that the graphics limitations of pretty much all interface layout tools hardly ever meets the need of graphic designers.  Clients are left asking the question “Why does it look like that?  I thought it would be better looking?” instead of concentrating on layout and function.  Even if you tell clients that this is just a mockup they have a really hard time getting past how it looks.  With the basic look of JumboLogic interface layouts customers are able to focus on whats important.

Q: Is JumboLogic just another interface layout tool?
A: Nope.  What makes JumboLogic special is it gives you the ability to plan and design more than just the layouts.  Layouts only tell you a sliver of the story – what it looks like.  JumboLogic gives you tools like flowcharts, sitemaps, documents, slideshows, screenshots, image markup, etc. so you can also explain how users will use it, how it interacts with the real world, how it functions, how it evolves, how its laid out, etc.  It’s also the only tool where you can add additional tools that you might need on a particular project via the JumboLogic AppMarket such as for programming planning, marketing planning, etc.

Q: Why say “definition” when JumboLogic lets you creates “requirements”?
A: We feel the term “Requirements” is too formal and tired.  We want users to use JumboLogic to work together to define their apps.  We like how it also means “to make clearer where its not” since this is 9 times out of 10 – a group effort.

Q: Why not use UML tools?
A: In short, UML tools are made for developers.  JumboLogic is made for interaction with customers and the people on your team who don’t know UML but may or could provide valuable insight into a project – in other words – not just developers.

Oct 13

Get better quotes for website projects using JumboLogic

I’m sure you’ve had the pleasure of trying to get quotes from web/mobile app development companies.  Not fun is it?

Everyone starts out by calling or meeting and trying to get quotes but find yourself retelling your requirements over and over and getting quotes that are all over the place.

Eventually you wise up and write a RFP explaining some of your basic requirements but for some reason you get the same wildly differing responses.  A recent RFP we sent out for a webapp project got back quotes ranging from $2000 to $80000 in cost and between 2 weeks and 9 months to construct.

The reason is that unless you are in the know and have a lot of experience developing webapps the description that you provided still requires a lot of imagination to fill in the gaps.  Translation – you aren’t comparing apples to apples.

A better method is to hire a JumboLogic professional and have them work with you to come up with a definition of your project.  You can opt for one of two methods:

  1. Outline – This is an outline of what you are trying to accomplish.  It is typically a document with a few interfaces, screenshots, or flowcharts to explain its function.  This document can be as in depth as you want it to be or need it to be.
  2. Specification – This is a more in depth document explaining what you are trying to accomplish.  It shows all the interfaces in your webapp.  It explains the functionality of your webapp with documents and flowcharts.  It can even cover technical details such as databases and classes that you expect to use (though this is optional).

Outlines are cheaper and faster but still leave wiggle room.  It is a dramatic improvement over any RFP you are able to produce since its scopes the project to a degree.

Specifications are much more time consuming and expensive to produce but its worth it.  With the additional detail it leaves very little wiggle room.  What you have is what you’ll get and the quotes you receive will truly be apples to apples.

JumboLogic – built to help you define web and mobile apps – doesn’t just streamline the planning and definition of your project but can also help you get better quotes!



Jul 12

Great Article on “Usable” specs

Here’s an excerpt from the article by Bryan R Krause:

“Other benefits of usable specs
Usable specs can also be helpful in usability testing, marketing, and to crystallize leadership. You can even get the manual finished at the same time as the product.

A well-crafted usable spec can be easy enough even for potential users to understand, so they can be valuable tools in usability testing. For example, full-blown prototypes can be put to use almost immediately to get feedback on the most common tasks. An audio recording can be broken apart and played to potential users to get reactions. Showing screenshots in sequence can be a good way to get users to talk through problems.”

Read the full article here: http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/getting_creative_with_specs_usable_software_specifications

Apr 12

WebApp Development – Getting quotes you can trust

If you’ve ever tried to get a quote for a webapp project, you’ll notice that the quotes will be all over the place.  On a recent project, a client of ours gave the same project description to 5 different webdev companies and got back prices ranging from $10k to $120k.  Yikes!

The reason the numbers were so far apart is that so many details go into building a webapp.  Without that detail it’s really up to the manager at each company to fill in the blanks.  They start with their own standards and then often imagine the rest.

So how do you ensure that the quotes you get back are meaningful?  Use JumboLogic!

With JumboLogic you can design the interfaces and describe how the webapp is supposed to work.  This creates a baseline from which every company bidding on your project can provide you quotes.

If you have the idea but not the expertise to design the interfaces and flowcharts needed to explain your product we suggest you hire a project manager/system architect who can take your ideas and turn them into a specification.  This may cost from a few hundred dollars to a a few thousand but its worth it.

The time and/or cost needed to write it up is worth it.  You will more than save an equivalent amount from time and money spent trying to digest quotes and explaining your project to different companies.

Apr 12

Why do I want my Web Developer to start with a spec?

Not all web development companies are equal.  Every company has its own process and style towards developing web apps.  Everyone starts with a description of the project provided by the client but from there on out it can vary wildly.

If you’ve ever had the experience of working with a BAD web development company, you’ve gone through at least one of these:

  • Your web developer doesn’t grasp the scope of the project and quits/disappears or asks for more money
  • Your web developer doesn’t build what you had in mind when you hired them
  • You don’t get any documentation
  • Changes/Feedback you provide get ignored or lost
  • First time you’ve seen the web app is when they’re “done”
  • Your web developer keeps missing details – they fix one thing and break another
  • They don’t provide information on how to actually use it

In our experience as a web developer we’ve seen this over and over and a large portion of our business was fixing failed projects started by other companies.

A great way to avoid these issues is to insist that they do a specification before they start programming.

So what is a specification?  

A specification is an electronic or written document that outlines what will be built and how it will work.  It typically includes interface mockups, flowcharts of processes, and documents explaining how users will use it.  It provides a crystal clear picture of your webapp.

  1. It gives you the ability to see what they are going to build.
  2. You can provide feedback before lots of hours are spent programming.
  3. You can track the progress of your project against the spec.
  4. You’ll have documentation just in case you need to move to another developer.
  5. Gives you peace of mind that your web developer understands the scope of the project and provided a real estimate.

Oftentimes, bad web development companies will start to show their true colors during the spec phase.  If necessary, this lets you escape with minimal investment of time and money.

Insist that your web developer use JumboLogic on your web or mobile app project!

Apr 12

Web Developers: Make Money while Saving your Customers Money

Wait?  Read that again.

You CAN make more money from your customers and save them money in the process.

Webapp projects can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Designing your project with a JumboLogic spec will:

  1. Ensure your customers are involved and will know what the end result will be
  2. Let you identify holes or issues in your design before it’s built
  3. Keep your team members and customers on the same page
  4. Allow you to provide better estimates
  5. Doubles as high level documentation


Benefit to You, the web developer:

You can charge your client for the specification services.  Often, you are able to charge this fee up front while studying a project.  This saves you from having to spend lots of time creating estimates for projects that don’t come through.  

You will have something to reference if disagreements arise or changes need to be made.  We’ve found that the clarity to the customer saves you a lot of headaches down the road.

Benefit to your customer

Your customer will have documentation that can follow the webapp through its operational lifespan.  

Customers will also be able to provide important feedback early in the product development cycle saving valuable time and resources going in circles later on.

Jan 12

Specifications in Agile Development

Found another great article about specifications and their place in Agile development!http://bit.ly/uC5T1j.

Jan 12

Why write Specifications?

Found this great article on why you should write software specifications BEFORE you start programming… every dollar you spend afterwards is more efficiently used!bit.ly/9gYQXt.