We will go as far as to say that it is the single most important part of web service development. A web service with a strong concept behind it will usually at least perform adequately even if the actual implementation is mediocre. On the other had, services with a poor concept but excellent web services are much more likely to fall flat just because the concept behind the service isn’t compelling.
A model example is an e-commerce site. There are hundreds of different ways to build one and fitting all the possible functionalities into one isn’t always the best starting point either. There is elegance and efficiency to be found in simplicity, but on the other hand these are hard to achieve. If you were to start a new e-commerce site focused on clothing, how did you plan on standing out from the competition, let’s say Zalando for example? The best way to achieve this certainly won’t be to maximize the number of functionalities your site has.
An outstanding web service concept is clear and focuses on what’s important. Sites are often designed with functionalities in mind, without ever really clarifying the essence of the service. Here are some of the core considerations when it comes to conceptualizing a web service:
A good concept is different from a list of features. It is a broader, more complete idea of how your goals are met in form of a complete web service.
Modern software development demands agile measures and turning large endeavors into smaller, more manageable entities. It’s often beneficial to transfer the majority of your hopes and dreams to the idea bin where they can be developed further and focus on the necessities. In the later stages functionalities are added phase by phase, which in turn lets your web service to grow in a controlled fashion and be built on a solid core. The benefit of this approach is rapid publishing cycles, renewal and trimming of unnecessary parts. All of these add up to saved costs.
A solid option is to include one’s end-user as a part of development and concepting. Just by launching a beta site and bringing on a limited amount of users will result in valuable tips for future development. Even just one round of valuable customer feedback will help increase the success rate of your official release.
The planning for a new web service often starts with the decision of which platform to use. The worst case for projects that are done platform first is that the platform has to be changed in a couple of years.
A better way to is to crystallize your web service concept first and list out the features you need as best as you can. At this point your choice of technology often becomes apparent.
The most important thing is a crystal clear idea, which is simple enough for all of your stakeholders understand it the same way. In order for a concept to be uniformly understood, it has to be documented. That is to say: A finalized concept is a document and if necessary, an interactive prototype at the core of the idea. Therefore, a clear web service concept both clarifies and solidifies the grand idea, phases development, describes how the needs of different target audiences are met and gives a foundation for required features and technological choices.
We’ve done concepting for a variety of web services. The cases have ranged from coming up with an entirely new business concept to simply crystallizing the idea of a web service so that it better meets the needs of its audience.
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