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Custom development or using existing tools?

Custom development or using existing tools? – part 1

by David Söderström

Related to our blog series about what it costs to build a website, in almost every new project we and our client will face questions of the type “should we use an existing tool or plugin for this or build our own thing?”

The answer to this always varies and depends on what functionality it needs to solve as well as time & budget. In some cases, using an existing tool is definitely the way to go and building your own would more than anything cost a lot of time and money while in other cases, with investing just a bit of time building something just the way the client wants it, is the key to success and to deliver extra value.

We love building custom made solutions and we certainly have a good amount of custom made things in all our projects. For specific parts though, sometimes it’s wise not to re-invent the wheel.

We love building custom made solutions and we certainly have a good amount of custom made things in all our projects.

Example cases

For example, in our web projects we frequently need to display charts and statistics. While there are obviously always still development time going into this (the actual numbers won’t magically calculate themselves), the method of displaying charts is a good example when using existing tools are a good way to go. There are a number of well-made tools (both free and premium) with good browser compatibility. To name a few we’ve used chart libraries such as Highcharts and Chart.js in projects such as this sales & reporting tool or this social business platform. In these cases, the libraries are generally well-built and customizable enough to allow us to customize them to behave and look in an appropriate way for the specific site.

The Challengera application requires a lot of custom made solutions!

ALWAYS CMS?

For a lot of typical websites, one might ask “What CMS would best for this?”. For some web projects that are less typical though, this may not even be relevant; The sales & reporting tool mentioned above is more of a web application and would not benefit from this or that CMS system behind it. The tool is an online version of an Excel-based tool, allowing the same simulations as the Excel tool and on top of that allowing all the simulations to be stored as projects as well as exporting results to PDF and yes… also to back to Excel! For a typical company website, a CMS is for sure the way to go, such as with our recent work for the ByggConstruct webpage, built on WordPress with a custom made theme.

CONCLUSION

So, do the cases where one can use existing tools mean there is little or no new development going on? The answer to this and more examples will be coming in Part 2 of this post. (Helpful hint: Thinly veiled clues to the question are already in Part 1 above).

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