Friday, April 8, 2011

The entrepreneur's secret - reuse, recycle and repurpose

One of the key attributes of successful entrepreneurial software development is not reinventing the wheel.  If you have tools that let you do something close to your goals, adapt or reuse those tools before you build new ones.  If you want or need to later in the development cycle you can scrap the pre-made stuff and substitute in your own code or custom version.  One of the advantages of this is that you have already established a nice interface to the particular re-used software you used in the first place - with well defined entry points and an interface that makes sense.  This can be invaluable in helping you shortcut costs during that critical start-up phase where every development decision is a choice between having the best functionality and least cost.
For example, I had a client that wanted a Facebook application developed that would allow their users and public to leverage social media and get them signed up for a free public event they were running.  App development on another social platform can be a daunting and expensive task - but in this case the client already had a functional content managed brochure site, that had the sign up form for the event on a page.  All they wanted was for users to be able to fill it in without having to leave Facebook.

We looked at alternatives and realized that we could simply use a specially designed skin on their existing site and they could frame a subset of the site on Facebook - exposing Facebook designed pages for users to register on.  In the future we may even enhance this to allow users to fill in their contact info directly out of the Facebook profile when they log in - but for the moment we just needed a quick solution to the specific problem.

We implemented the skin change and developed the pages in 6 hours - on a platform we'd never developed for before.  The resulting pages look professional and well integrated into the Facebook platform, carry the branding from the original site forward, and even give the sponsors some exposure within the Facebook App.  So, as an entrepreneur - especially in software development - you need to ask yourself every day: Am I reinventing the wheel?  Can I leverage something I've already built to achieve my goal cheaper, faster or better?  Can I leverage the work of others to create a better user experience and a more rich interface to my application?

To see the full site:
To see the app page:
To see the EOTF event page:!/pages/Eyes-on-the-Future-Event/131647666907289?sk=app_5614204682

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