Jun 11, 2018 Written by David Barlev
computer with code reflecting how to speak a developer's language

In the tech industry, we’re all familiar with that daunting adage: 99% of startups don’t make it to launch.

Startup founders know this, yet so many of them continue to push forward in pursuit of solutions to real-world problems or innovations that disrupt entire industries. For those developing digital products such as apps or software, the reason can often be tied back to not understanding how to speak a developer’s language.

We often get clients who bring us “rescue projects,” which didn’t work out with another developer. We dive in, figure out what the issues are, and make a plan to either salvage the project or begin from scratch. In these cases, the common denominator isn’t incompetence on either side—it’s not speaking in the same terms as the development team.

Rescue projects are typically the result of poor planning.

“Rescue project” clients tell us similar stories about their past experiences. In the initial planning phase, they conveyed a high-level idea of the project to their developers who then created spec documents with user-types, features, pages, etc. Maybe their developers asked a few clarifying questions before presenting them with an estimate. From there, they dove into the development phase—which is where the problem begins.

The spec document is a common stopping place in the planning phase because it’s enough for developers to scope and build a product—but it doesn’t allow them to get a detailed idea of what their clients want.

And once the development phase is underway, clients are already spending time and money building a product that may only vaguely resemble their vision. Then, instead of launching a finished product, startups often have to shift to damage-control. How can they salvage what they already have? Do they have enough funding to keep going?

how to speak a developer's language

Startups can avoid this problem by learning to speak a developer’s language.

What we advocate is a careful planning process in which the developers are actively involved in brainstorming how the final product will look.

When we sit down with our clients, we draw out every possible layout, every possible screen, and user flow in order to get a clear picture of their vision. This enables us to draw up wireframes and make a full game plan for the development phase.

We believe that such a careful planning process is essential to reducing the risk faced by so many startups. When we think through the entire user experience and challenge our clients to sell us on every single feature of their product, only then do we have a complete idea of the project scope—and only then are we on the same page as our clients.

To learn more about how Goji Labs can help you with your current or upcoming development book a free consult here