K7 Tech software engineers working on a project roadmap.

Software Development 101: For Absolute Beginners

Are you eager to launch your idea but don't know exactly where to start? Don't worry, we got you - read our advice column.

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Getting ready for development

Whether it's a software solution for your business or a new product you're building, the development process of it can range from simple to complex. Various factors contribute to the difficulty of software development, including the type of project and the complexity of its features. If you're new to software development and looking for some guidance to get started, here's a look at what it takes to do it well.

A computer screen with code

What does software development mean?

The first thing to understand is what software development is. Software development is a process in which developers create and modify applications, websites, and other software systems. It involves many factors, including requirements analysis, design, and implementation. A common misconception is that the process of developing a product only involves coding, which  is not the case. This process requires other roles besides developers and consists of several phases. First, there should be a clear understanding of the product requirements - let’s have a look at what this entails in the next section.

A team of developers discussing a project

Requirements gathering

The team should know what they are creating. To achieve that, you will need a project lead. This is a role that helps you define the requirements and help you with decisions if you have any doubts. Based on the requirements, developers can create technical documentation. Technical documentation is a document that explains how the software works, how it will interact with other systems, and what data it will store. A UI/UX designer is usually also involved in this phase. Their task is to create a design that will guide developers to create an interface that is easy to use and looks good. Once the team prepares the design, technical documentation, and other various documents, you can review them, and approve them if they're good. After that, the preparation phase can begin.

Gathering requirements for a software project

The preparation phase

In this phase, a DevOps engineer or a Senior Developer prepares environments and tools for the developers. The preparation includes setting up servers and databases, creating a development environment for their local machines, installing software dependencies, and performing other tasks necessary for developers to start working right away. In this phase, they create a Git repository with the codebase and connect it to a source code management system such as GitHub. The source code management system is responsible for the code and makes it easy for developers to work together on projects. It's not unusual that in this phase, the team will need something to be set up by you. So don't be afraid of questions and getting your hands dirty. This is a great way to learn more about the technical side of your product. After everything is ready, the important and usually the lengthiest phase begins. Finally, developers can start coding.

Two software developers working together

The development phase

Depending on your project, the team size may vary. If your project requires a server and a database, it's natural that the team will contain at least one backend developer. The team will also have a project lead responsible for the general project flow and execution. Furthermore, there are team members working on the frontend, design, etc.

Regardless of how the requirement gathering goes, In this phase, you can expect a lot of questions from the team. It's critical that you provide them with all information necessary. But, it's not supposed to be one-sided. You should also know what's happening on the project and ask questions about it. As the development phase flows, the team will provide you with regular reports on the project. These reports are expected to include information about what the team did. In the preparation phase, it's not uncommon for the team to prepare an environment for you to access and check on the progress. These will keep you in touch with the changes and progress the team has made. It is crucial that, in this phase, you make sure that they are still on track with the features that they are developing.

Testing a mobile app before deployment

Testing your project

There's also a significant part of this phase that is often hidden but very important. Testing your project plays an important role in creating a stable and usable product. A project can have a top-notch UI/UX design, but if it's full of bugs and unusable for the end users, then that is a problem. That's why the QA team and it's members are often called "silent heroes." Their songs we'll never hear because they're too busy hunting nasty bugs and scaring developers with them. But, even QA heroes sometimes make mistakes. If you've found an issue they didn't spot, that's all right. Whether it's a typo, bug, or something more significant, don't hesitate, and make sure to address it with the project lead.

If the project is nearly done, and you're satisfied with the current state of it - the deployment phase can begin.

Software project launch

The deployment phase

In this phase, the team will enable users to use your product. If it's a mobile application this means embarking on an adventure called "app store release." If it's a web application this means creating an environment usually called a "production" environment which can serve many users simultaneously. Be patient because, in this phase, it's not unusual to have a bunch of surprises. The team will have many questions in this phase, so be sure to support them in their efforts to enable your idea to come to life. After the release process, the final phase starts - the maintenance phase.

Tracking user analytics after project launch

The maintenance phase

In this phase, you and the team ought to closely follow the performance of your idea. Analytic tools such as Google Analytics show some "raw" data about how users use your project and give you more ideas on improving it. Besides "raw" data, user feedback also has an important value. You need to learn and listen to what your users are telling you and consider their ideas. If you see that some users are complaining about something, try to fix the issue in question as soon as possible. Requests that will enhance your ideas should also be discussed with the team. If you choose to act upon them, the "SDCL'' (software development cycle) starts all over again from the beginning.

The maintenance phase of software development

The wrap-up

Software development is a vast concept that takes time and more than these 1000+ words we used to explain shortly. But that shouldn’t scare you if you manage to find a good team.. A good team will guide you and answer any questions you have during your journey. The journey called "software development" will transform your idea into reality.

Are you ready to start your journey? Contact us for a free consultation here.