Tailored Solutions

September 22, 2013

Custom development and tailored solutions have almost inadvertently been at the heart of Craft+Story since the beginning (last year), but I didn’t make it part of our one-sentence description until recently. It just made sense. I started out as a backend developer, so I always want to tweak things. We’ve been adding custom extensions or functionality to nearly every project. It’s the “craft” part of Craft+Story (as in craftsmanship, not papier-mâché).

 

What does this commitment to “tailored solutions” really mean, though? How does it compare to templates and off-the-shelf solutions? Those are good questions, so I wrote a FAQ.

What is a tailored solution?

Like most good solutions, it starts with a problem. It could be something you know your clients are needing or a business opportunity you’re missing. The problem is probably not “we don’t have a website”. It’s normally more like “we want to provide online video better” or “we want to connect real estate agents to pre-qualified buyers”. Starting with the problem, we can step back and start to form a solution philosophically. Then, we can build something to exactly match that solution.

Is custom or tailored necessarily better?

Yes! Maybe. It depends on your problem and how much you’re willing to spend to solve it. For my basic everyday problem of covering my naked torso, an off-the-rack shirt is worth exactly what I’m willing to spend (not much). For the more expensive problem of looking awesome at a gala in my honor, I’ll want something tailored to make me look less fat.

Why is it better?

Tailoring the solution gives us the chance to build exactly what is needed to solve the problem. Often, a one-size-fits-all solution won’t solve more complex problems, and if it does, it’s likely to be bloated with all sorts of unnecessary solutions to other people’s problems. A tailored solution is (theoretically) guaranteed to solve your problem, and do it faster and with less overhead than an off-the-shelf template.

Why is it more expensive?

It isn’t always, but it can require more of an investment to get the results you really need. The difference between a custom solution and grabbing something off the shelf, though, is that everything is designed to give you a higher return on your investment than any one-size-fits-all solution could promise.

 

Who am I kidding? Of course it’s more expensive. It takes more time, knowledge, and experience to make things custom. Unlike the “handmade leather interior” option on a Kia, though, it’s probably worth it.

So does this mean you’re always starting from scratch?

No. We’re not stupid. We work with content management systems that are made for customization (TYPO3, ExpressionEngine) so that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Of course, occasionally the solution isn’t a CMS at all. In that case, we start with a basic framework and make our own system.

Do you charge by the hour, day, week, or fortnight?

No. I love value-based pricing. At the beginning or during discovery, we calculate the value of the project based on the expected return and how much can be invested in strategy, design and development. Then, we normally present a few options with different levels of investment and return.

Isn’t that kind of arbitrary?

It seems a lot less arbitrary than declaring all of our hours are worth $100. Personally, I know I’ve had $400 hours (early in the morning or having a great idea in the shower) and $25 hours (right before naptime). Value-based pricing sounds a lot less arbitrary to me because it’s all about results. I’d much rather sell results than a random chunk of time.

Anything else?

Custom (or tailored) solutions are awesome. I love this stuff, and I should have been telling clients why it matters before now.

Previous Entries

The First Craft+Story Retreat

May 19, 2013

CedarLake.net Launch

March 18, 2013

Trellololo

January 24, 2013