Why Your Friendly Neighborhood Dev Shops Thrive in a Product-Driven World

A photo of about five people doing a fistbump over a desk.

Any business would — and should — tell you they’re customer-driven. 

But with the ever-growing presence of product-driven web services, how do you know when it’s time to use a pre-fab app versus working with a team of developers to build the site of your dreams? The bottom line: A product-driven option will get you what you need, but a dev shop can really dig into what you want. Here’s why.

Building From the Bottom Up

Let’s say you’re in the market for a house. Your options are wide open, so you’re not sure where to begin. (I know this is Denver, but bear with me here.)

You know your basic needs: four walls, a roof, and, hey, some doors and windows would be nice. For the sake of ease, you buy a new home in a subdivision. The house is fine: it’s totally functional, moving in was a snap, and you even got to pick the paint colors.

Now let’s say you’ve got a clear vision of what your house could look like. You want lots of customizations: massive kitchen, an indoor slide, a ball pit — whatever you can dream up. It sounds like you’re aiming for a Chuck E. Cheese™, by the way, but I’m not here to judge.

To achieve your exact vision, you have to work one-on-one with a builder. That way, you get the features, quality, and overall results you’re looking for. That level of control and customization is what you get with a dev shop.

Getting Fenced-in With Built-Ins

When a company is product-driven, they’re creating a product and pulling customers towards it, rather than creating something in response to unique customer needs.

Off-the-shelf web development definitely has its pro’s: It’s relatively cheap and can get you into the market straightaway. With 60% of the the development already in place, users can enjoy quick turnaround and deployment.

Fast functionality at a low cost is the easiest and best choice if you’re looking for a simpler solution, and if you’re not too concerned with the uniformity and potential instability that can come with pre-fab apps.

One common misconception about web and mobile app products is the belief that you’ll get dev shop-level customization from a single product in half the time and for half the money.

What you do gain in speed, though, you may lose in other efficiencies down the road.

Case in point: bugs that exist in the base product can exist in every site you own through that service. Let’s say you’ve built multiple websites on Wix, for example, and they push an update throughout the platform. If there’s a bug with a color or font, that can show up and require fixing on all of your sites.

Bugs are a major roadblock to smooth functionality, but even convenience features can get in the way.

Often, clients can’t support or don’t need the product features on ready-made web apps, and there’s a limitation to what you can or can’t edit. For example, if WordPress starts using a new media widget, your hand may be forced to use nonessential features. Moreover, they can get rid of features that you actually do like.

Since gradually rolling out changes in releases on your own timeline isn’t an option in this scenario, you could have to scrap the original project and start over — likely with a dev shop. 

With this limited amount of customization, the potential for being fenced in by unwanted features combined with the risk of being bogged down by bugs may cause you to outgrow your app service before you’re ready.

The question becomes less if you need a dev shop and more when you need a dev shop.

Demo vs. Reno: When to Switch to a Dev Shop Before It’s Too Late

One of the most common phrases I hear from clients who approach 303 Software for web or mobile app development is that they’re “ready to graduate” to a dev shop.

I won’t tell you to avoid product-driven services, and if you encounter a dev shop that is trying to sell you services you’re not ready for, tell them to get off your lawn. There’s no reason to be house-poor when it comes to your website.

But if your business plan includes expanding and maturing your digital homebase, you’ll want to build custom development into your roadmap

When you work with a dev shop, you’re not buying an app: you’re investing in an expert team that will learn your unique needs and guide you past your internal KPI’s  to create something that defines your company.

So how will you know when it’s time for an upgrade from products to pro’s? Consider the following; if any of these apply to you, you’re likely ready to start working with a dev shop.

  • You’re an established business that’s ready to drive your growth
  • You need to build your organization around an app or website
  • You have a complex website and need a high level of customization
  • You’ve worked out a solid proof of concept for your vision
  • You want to see real value in your investment

And, perhaps most importantly: You need to have it done right the first time

Not sure where you are in your journey to getting the app of your dreams? Shoot us an email at helloworld@303software.com  and we can help you move in the right direction.


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