custom software Posts

Purchasing Custom Software

About half of our clients at Black Chair had purchased custom software from other vendors before coming to us. None of them were satisfied with their experience, which I suppose makes sense (our competitors’ satisfied customers would have no reason to jump ship). When they come to us we inevitably hear the horror stories, and I live in constant fear of becoming the subject of such a story in the future. As far as I know, it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m not deluded enough to take credit for that—our processes need work, but even if they didn’t statistics dictate that we will eventually be spurned by an angry client. Nevertheless, the study of ways in which I can delay that eventuality has become a bit of an obsession.

The Economics of Custom Software

It was a Saturday afternoon in spring, and I was sitting in my parents’ basement with the lights off, staring at the monitor belonging to our brand new Compaq Presario computer. I was replying to a client email debating the price of a project (after the work had been completed), which we had previously agreed would be a whopping $600. I was 12.

The whole thing had started for me about a year before, when I got a bit carried away in computer class and ended up building my school’s website. My school was affiliated with a church, so I built their website too. Those two were freebies, although I did end up leveraging the first into an educational copy of Macromedia Flash, which cost several hundred dollars at the time, and I believe the church found a volunteer stipend for me at the end of that year as well. I then made the website for a Bible camp, for which I timidly charged $300.