Many who deal with custom software for business purposes never really put much thought into software beyond the user experience. Graphics, buttons, input elements, design, and ease of use are a critical components of good software. But most people don't pause to think about the "magical" aspect of software that goes on behind the scenes, which plays as big a part in the quality of an application as the stuff you see on your screen.
“Behind the curtain, the real driver of all software is code.”
Behind the curtain, the real driver of all software is code. And the code behind applications is at least as diverse as the appearance and ease of use of applications. Here' the question: why should you care what the code is like? Isn't that just the stuff that developers and other techy guys need to worry about?
It has more impact than you might expect. When it comes down to it, the people who are serious at developing software have goals and motivations that are much in line with that of the people who are buying/using software. How are we going to keep the budget down? How hard to make modifications to the software throughout its lifespan? The harder it is, the more you are going to pay for in labor and the longer you're going to wait for your updates to be live. How prone is the software to bugs, especially as those changes are made? Developers don't want bugs (more work) and users definitely don't want bugs. How successful is your business going to be with the software a company has developed? Any decent company should value your relationship enough for that to be a strong factor in the way things are done.
“Any decent company should value your relationship enough for that to be a strong factor in the way things are done.”
Granted, most users are not likely ever to even be able to read any code. But they can get a feeling for how much a development company cares about their code. Do they seem like people who know and care about what they do? Maybe their quote was a little higher than your lowest and they might have promised a slightly longer turnaround time. But the lowest and fastest might be too good to be true. Nothing is free, and many times you will get a lot more bang for your buck from that company who is charging a little more. You're going to pay more for a Cadillac than a Chevy, but sometimes in this industry you pay for a Chevy and get an old station wagon that is missing a wheel. Many times we've given proposals to clients that go with a cheaper alternative - only to see them return in a few months to accept ours. (It's worth mentioning we are relatively inexpensive, but there are some really cheap chop-shops out there.)
Be sure when you are in search of a development company, you don't ignore the quality of the product - the whole product.