Custom-Built vs. Customized

Just because you can build something doesn’t mean you should make it.

Roughly once per month, a prospective client will ask me to build a custom integration or web app to solve (what they believe are) their unique and essential needs. I nearly always try to talk them out of it.

Firstly, their needs are rarely as unique as they imagine them to be. By widening our perspective, we can usually find a pre-existing solution that, lightly customized, will meet their needs adequately. 

Secondly, custom-built integrations increase long-term costs. There are always edge cases or unforeseen issues that will need to be debugged later, and even well-built apps will break over time as the internet changes around them.

Before embarking on a custom development project, I advise clients to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Could their needs be solved with a low-fi approach? Could an existing feature or service be customized to achieve a similar result? If so, then do so.

The least complex viable approach is nearly always the best one.