Want to Dive into Web Apps? A Veteran Developer Simplifies the Process

Today, I am happy to bring to you, Paul J. Scott. He is the founder and president of GoingClear Interactive, a Boston-based web development and design firm. He also runs Clearingly, which is a resource channel for businesses that want to operate online and maximize their web presence.

Paul is a veteran web developer. His web apps include Clearingly (for businesspeople) and OrganicRestaurants.com (a directory and advertising platform-based platform for specialty restaurants).  

So, I took some time out to talk to Paul to demystify the complexity in developing a web app. In this interview, he offers a simplified process for people without an information technology orientation.

Kallen: What is the difference between a website and web app?

Paul: Great question! It can be argued that every website is a web app. The real difference is that a website is like a static brochure site, while a web app is offering anything more than just viewing basic information on a page. Good examples of a web app are Google Maps, Facebook, and Amazon.

Kallen: Yeah. I have definitely used many of those apps that you just described to us. Talk about how a business can use a web app to profit.

Paul: It really comes down to automation - how to save more time and be profitable. Think about automation of any task, for example like support tickets. What if you can create a ticketing type of app? So, if a client had a problem, their customers could have an account within the web app to express their problems to the company appropriately.

Kallen: Very well explained, Paul. A lot of people want to get involved in entrepreneurship in some form. Although, some people struggle with the lack of experience or access to web development resources.

Paul: If you want to be an entrepreneur or involved in a startup, it comes down to efficiency and growth. Start with the pain points. What is taking too much time in your business? What is a painful area in your business that you continue to struggle with? If you do not know, conduct a survey to see what everyone else is struggling with.

Fortunately, there can be a lot of web app ideas that stem from those problems. Then, you can talk to a web app developer to help you map these things out.

Kallen: That is good. It is like being the solution to your own problem, especially when it does not already exist in the marketplace.

Unfortunately, a lot of people do not have IT capabilities. Massive open online courses are making it easier for people to learn those skills, but many people do not become competent enough to successfully do it on their own.

How does a person choose the right partner to develop a web app?

Paul: That is a good question. There are several approaches. One approach is to use Google to search web app development companies, preferably local. Another approach is find a developer that recently graduated from school, but there can be some risks there. There is also Craigslist. It is always a good business practice to check the candidate's past clients.

Also, as you are weeding out candidates, focus on the candidates that have actually built web apps. Web designers and website developers do not always qualify in being your best choice to build a web app because the development is more complex.

Kallen: Indeed! You talk about this more at length in your book, Building a Successful Web App: A Businessperson's Guide to Making Websites Do More. This is a very comprehensive book about how a person can develop their own web app.

Let's take the opportunity to talk about the differences between a web app and a mobile app. Also, explain what are the pros and cons to each of them?

Paul: That is a good question too! An app is an app, but there is a distinction between the two. A web app is going to run on a desktop or laptop within a web browser, while a mobile app is going to run on a mobile device like an iPhone or Android.

Kallen: What would you say are some key things for a successful launch of a web app?

Paul: First, you need to get really clear about what you want to build. Talk about the user experience. Map the process out. Work with the developer to create a user-friendly experience.

Kallen: We only covered a fraction of what is in the book. How can people follow you and tell where people can get the book?

Paul: Our main company is GoingClear Interactive. On Twitter, we are GoingClear.

Then, we have a resource channel called Clearingly. Clearingly are for the do it yourself businesspeople, so they will probably buy the book or take the online course. So, Clearingly is for resources and GoingClear is our main company.

Kallen: Thank you for speaking to us for a few minutes.

Paul: My pleasure, Kallen. Thank you for the opportunity.