The Web is used for a lot of things these days, but it boils down to two basic categories: the websites everyone uses sees and use on a daily basis, and online applications and services. The first is public and unrestricted, but the latter may reside behind a login and serve a specific use or audience.
It wasn’t long before software developers saw the advantage of moving their applications online: global access, cross-platform compatibility, easier upgrades, wider distribution, and lower costs. At Highgate, we too saw the advantage of being able to offer our clients a whole new set of communication and organizational tools and products. So we started developing web apps, portals, extranets...whatever you want to call them...early on, and we've only been gaining experience since then. Strange for bunch of designers, but there’s a little left brain in all of us.
Features for all users:
- Registration process
- Payment (optional)
- User verification
- Account/Profile update
For the administrator:
- manage users
- manage payments
- manage content
For the member:
- access content and features/functions
- contribute content (opt)
- interact with community (opt)
A special word about e-commerce
We have honed our e-commerce system over the years and are still constantly tweaking and expanding it per the specific commerce needs of our clients. From fine teas, to audio files, to candy, to books to even registration, to donation our flexible and robust e-commerce applications can streamline your customers online transactions, and manage your inventory.
Custom Business Logic/Administration/Organization/...
This category can't be boiled down to one type because it's custom build to solve specific problems unique to your organization.
Here are some examples of the forms these apps could take to get your wheels turning:
- client and customer portals
- organization administration
- membership and subscription
- survey and assessment tools
- knowledge bases
- database interface and reporting
- career planning
Web apps don't have to be boring, they can just be really really cool and fun. We're artists after all. Check out some examples of web apps that delight us and let's come up with one for you!
How we take on Web applications
We’ve had to learn to be flexible. Web applications come in all sizes and can serve all kinds of purposes. Here’s what we’ve learned over the years:
1. Plan, plan, plan. We suggest lots of time in front of a white board, drawing boxes and arrows to make sure everyone understands the demographics of the use, and then how the application will flow.
2. We work “agilely” or in stages, starting with a base product that performs the basic functions, and then map out future features and development with the client. This avoids “feature creep.”
3. Test, test test. We have a lot of basic pieces already developed and tested, so it’s a matter of connecting them and refining them for your specific purpose, following “best practices.” We all work together to take the alpha and beta versions out on the road for lengthy drive.
4. One-off applications usually need more flexible budgets and time frame. If it’s never been done before we will probably run into the unexpected. It takes a pioneering spirit.
5. If the application is to be monetized, marketing and promotion must be part of the budget and planning early on.
6. All software needs support, so we have instituted a help desk and email ticketing system that is monitored 18/7 by our team members.
7. Reliability and security are paramount. At a premium, we use our own dedicated servers that are vigilantly monitored 24/7 for uptime, security, and accessibility.