If you actually paid attention in your software engineering classes on programmatic design then you probably shouldn’t read this article.
Also, I feel sorry for you.
I have a confession… I hate programmatically planning out exciting new business projects. I know.. bad programmer. Bad!
For goodness sake! When you first have a business idea, the last thing you want to do is drain the excitement out of it by drawing schema diagrams and flow charts.
That’s why I thought I would talk about how I go about the very start of the business process for an idea. Here are a few tips to help you on your way:
Top down design
I like to start on how my project might look. My favourite part of this process is sketching out what you might want your new website or program to look like. You’ve got a few ideas about what you could do with it. Now it’s time to get it on paper.
I love using tools like Photoshop to mess around with high level design concept ideas, but the really powerful tools are things like Balsamiq. Very cool tool for quickly creating nice mockups for conceptual level design. Fast enough to operate to use at meetings, and good enough to even show potential investors. Check out the cool iTunes like interface in the demo video to get a feel for it’s power.
The old fashioned way you can do this (and I advocate carrying pen and paper at all times) is to jot it down in a notebook. Yes, pen and paper, it’s your extremely handy friend. 90% of my ideas that make it into some form of life have come from a scrawl in a notebook.
Starting with how it might look is a great way to feel out your idea without putting a wet blanket on your creative moment. Drawing and concept work is a fantastic way to realise features you might not have discovered yet.
Figure out some good functional elements and concentrate on those.
Put your extra ideas that will inevitably pop up into a lovely formatted document (or notebook) and let them sit idle for a bit. This way you’re not forgetting about them, but instead letting them ferment. You also don’t need to spend time on “shaving the yak” too early. Let the features creep later on when you’ve got an actual working product/website.
Get it out there!
Get something (anything!) out into the wild. Open source it if you want. Seek feedback from friends/family or better still, potential customers. Give them rewards for helping you. Just get something working as soon as you can, it will help your product survive (you will become accountable for it) and will also help with low motivation which does inevitably rear it’s ugly head at some point.
Don’t forget to have fun 🙂
It’s called a hobby project for a reason right? It’s not your full time job so don’t take it too seriously!!! Have fun with it! Half the fun is in the hobby.
Why do you think I write this site and work on my projects in my spare time? I could be out watching movies or playing soccer. But I like doing this. It’s what I class as fun which is why I’m so motivated to keep going with it.