Bad Web Developers or Bad Customer?

by M Ismail Wed Feb 12

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There’s no sin in being a new and inexperienced Founder. Even if you’re a seasoned corporate executive or professional with deep subject matter expertise, having a Beginner’s Mindset and a thirst for learning is the best way to build a great tech product.

Unfortunately, there are many dodgy and inexperienced developers out there waiting to rip you off or waste your time and money. I know, because I was badly burned when I first started out! Here are my tips to choose a good development agency.

The good news is you can stack the odds in your favour by being a great customer.

How To Be a Great Tech Customer

I created Rareiio to help Non-Tech Founders bring great products to market and we work with new Founders every single day. Use these tips based on our experience and you’ll attract and retain the right tech talent to help you build your first product.

1.Think through your idea carefully

‘This might sound a bit harsh but a lot of people set themselves up to be preyed upon by not being prepared and often holding unrealistic expectations.’

Marcin Piekarski Senior Front-End Developer | User Interface Developer

Don’t spend a cent until you’ve clearly thought through your idea, talked to a few potential customers (your mother doesn’t count), have a clear idea of what the problem is you’re trying to solve and who the real customer is (again your mother doesn’t count).

They are lots of free resources online that can help you figure this out, like the ‘lean start-up canvas’ which helps you to express your idea clearly on one page.

It’s important for the developer (and for your wallet) that you’re able to boil your idea down to its core essence — known as the Minimal Viable Product (‘MVP’). This is what the developer will build so that can validate your idea with real customers. 

If you’re brave, you could go to a meet-up or a start-up event and try pitching your idea to a crowd of strangers. This really helps you crystallise your insights and test your thoughts with experienced tech people.

2. Be Clear About Your Product 

Sometimes when a project doesn’t work it could be your shit brief and the fact that you can’t explain what your brain is thinking and (then) you blame other people for not reading your mind.

Phillip Parisis, Head of Marketing, NSW Business Chamber (and Founder) 

Founders who say, ‘it’s all in my head’ really annoy good developers. Don’t be that person. Don’t blame your developer for not reading your mind. Start sketching, wireframing on paper or in word how your product will work. Draw out the homepage, the next most important page, so you can clearly articulate the product’s requirements. 

If you can’t put your idea into words or a sketch, start by looking online for websites or apps that might help you articulate your thoughts clearly to a developer.

3. Don’t try to dictate unreasonable timelines

Writing crap code is quick and easy. Writing good code is hard and takes time. Most developers will tend to take the easy path especially when they’re under time pressure. This results in a rushed product that will probably work but will be very hard to upgrade.

Thomas Sesselmann, Software Engineer at Presien

Bad developers tend to agree to tight timelines. A tell-tale sign that you have a shit developer is that he or she will promise to deliver a complex product within two to three months, even though your application is very deep and has very deep features. 

If you are a first-time Founder and want to work with talented developers don’t try to dictate unreasonable timelines when you don’t have any experience discerning what things take time and what things don’t take time. If you’ve hired reputable developers based on a good portfolio of work and references from other customers, try to trust them to help you deliver. 

5. Make Decisions and Be involved 

‘There are two kinds of people in start-ups: 

1) People comfortable making decisions based on partial information; and…’

Alan Jones, Partner M8 Ventures and Start-up Founder Coach

You need to remember you are the one steering this ship. Most decisions aren’t life or death for your product, but they’re made under uncertain conditions.  Don’t just tune out and hope a developer or a designer is magically going to create a disruptive product for you that will make you millions. 

6. Talk to Tech Experts

Being a founder of a great tech company, you must on-board a talented CTO who can manage all that. Relying on an external Dev to build something will always end up too loose. Great products have strong foundation, right from idea to the right tech stack selection and a solid design that allows to scale.

Sandeep Joshi, Talent Partner, APAC at Adobe

A good Founder talks to tech experts, listens deeply and takes time to think through the advice they receive. 

Get good at asking questions. If someone disagrees with you make sure you ask why and listen carefully to their reasons for having a different approach and…then go ahead and make a decision.

You need to set aside time every week to test your product (yes, every week!), see what challenges your dev team is facing, provide solutions to problems, help out, iterate, tell them what the customer feedback has been so far!

Read our tips here on how to select a great developer and more about the web development process from idea through to launch. 

We’ve also announced new ‘Office Hours’, a FREE service for first-time Founders who need help crystallising an idea or recovering from a bad experience with a developer. 


About Mellonie Francis

I love meeting people who want to build and scale digital products. For me, it’s extremely satisfying seeing the impact the right software can have on an industry when designed, developed and marketed correctly.

I created Rareiio after having an horrific experience with building my first tech product using inexperienced developers. I lost thousands of dollars and nearly a year in development to end up with nothing. I am determined to make sure great Non-Tech Founders don’t have the same bad experience as me.

My agency, Rareiio was created to support Non-Tech Founders to build disruptive technology, fast, cost-effectively and as painlessly as possible. You can see our extensive portfolio consisting of our own digital products and our client portfolio. In a short-time, Rareiio has grown to a 16-person team with offices in Sydney and Lahore and has built dozens of digital products for clients in Australia and the USA.


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