Mateusz Raczyński
min read
Last Update:
January 15, 2024

How different it is to build a blockchain app than a standard web application? How does adding blockchain influence the development process? And more importantly–how to work with a blockchain smart contract development agency to meet your expectations and goals?

Here’s a guide for founders active in the web3 and crypto space, as well as using blockchain in other areas, such as FinTech or supply chains. Let’s dive in.

Software Development – How to Get from the Idea to Launching Your Product?

Software development is in general very similar to building housing. To build a house, you need to start by describing your requirements to the architect, so that he can turn them into visually satisfying designs. Then, the general vision has to be tailored to what’s possible from the construction point, ensuring safety, matching the budget, and timeline. 

A house that would look exactly the same on the outside can be built with several technologies, which come with their pros and cons. With that defined, the construction project will be made, and this leads you to the next step – finding a team that will build the project for you.

When it comes to team composition, again, there are several options. If you’re trained to do parts of the work, you could do them yourself and hire teams for the rest of the project. You could also hire a company that will handle everything on their own and hand you keys when the house is ready, or you can try organizing all the teams by yourself. The decision is mostly about how much time do you have to manage the construction as an investor, and how much are you willing to pay for others’ time doing work for you.

A house, however, can’t be tested in the wild or any staging environment, so the planning phase involves additional calculations. And when it comes to maintenance, the chosen technology is what influences it quite heavily, but whenever you’ll want to mow the lawn or paint the fence, you’ll come back asking whether to do it yourself or hire professionals.

Turning this to the world of software development, we will still have to form requirements, design the thing, plan how to build it with certain technologies, and then–since there are lots of parts moving much more than bricks–we jump to the testing phase. After that is concluded, the product is ready to launch.

A software project doesn’t end with the launch, though. Digital products constantly evolve, while there are features added and the underlying tech gets updated. Each change done without the specific know-how might result in taking your product down for some time or adding bugs.

This should give you a good overview of how does software development look like–if you haven’t known it already. We have covered this topic in our article focused on product roadmaps.

Each project might have slightly different phases, but to be as generic as we can, we can focus on these steps in this article:

  • Idea
  • Product Design
  • Specifications and Requirements
  • Development
  • QA & Testing
  • Launch
  • Maintenance

Now, how these steps differ in the blockchain world?

Blockchain Software Development – How Is It Different?

While blockchain might add the most complexity to the development stage, building an on-chain product influences the whole process.

Here’s how.

Blockchain Product Idea

The best products are user-centric, aimed at a certain audience. For a founder, this step is simple, as you’re probably already thinking about serving a specific group of people. However, we’re often seeing ideas revolving around which features are cool and helpful, but they drift away from the core audience, making it harder to design it with certain personas in mind and then market it.

Building a product for ‘anyone’ is an extremely difficult task. But building one for Solana users interested in pop-culture gives you so many guidelines.

Blockchain Product Design

Product design is the part that turns your idea into real-world application design. Knowing the audience is a critical part of the design process and later user experience. Since blockchains require signing transactions through wallets, defining whether you want to onboard crypto-native or novice users impacts how you design the experience.

If the user is familiar with wallets, you can just add the ‘Connect’ button, and it will work for him perfectly. But if you plan to make a more general consumer product, the concept of wallets might be new to most of the users, requiring you to guide them through the process, lowering the barriers that might stop them from using the app.

Such aspects might require an experienced designer who knows how blockchain projects work to make them easy to use for the target audience. If you’d like to work with us on that, check out our product design services.

Blockchain Software Requirements

Software requirements are a vital part of any project. Defining a well-documented specification is what makes or breaks the development. Ideas such as ‘copy of platform X but with Y’ are hard to replicate. What seems obvious to the investor might not be for the developers. To avoid any miscommunication, this is a must–we have written a piece on software requirements specifications on our blog, with an example provided. If you’re not technical enough to create such a specification, you can work on that with us on a Discovery Workshop–just contact us about it.

Okay, but how does the specification change with blockchain? Not much, apart from more technical decisions that have to be made. Which blockchain do you want to use? How should the features be built? What’s the algorithm for smart contracts? How users should interact with the platform–on-chain, off-chain, through API? Which wallets should be supported? And many, many more.

Blockchain Development

On the development side, for the developers, blockchain adds a certain level of complexity that requires some experience working with this technology. In most blockchain projects, the frontend and backend change a bit from the non-blockchain ones, but the core work remains pretty much the same.

This is completely different in the blockchain development part. The on-chain work gives the best results when done by truly talented developers, that know low-level programming, algorithms creation, etc. The more smart contracts the program will run, the longer and trickier might be the development, but from our perspective–provided you have experience, blockchain is just a part of the whole development process. Each platform still has to have a working frontend, backend, DevOps, and anything in between.

Quality Assurance & Testing

The QA process of blockchain products is again similar at the core to custom software development, but if the project involves custom smart contracts, they should be audited in a safe environment before launch. Blockchain projects work with digital assets, and here bugs can get extremely costly. This is what should be discovered and addressed by smart contract auditors.

Launch & Maintenance

The parts beyond development are pretty straightforward. If the product gets used by a large audience and operates on large amounts, it should be audited with every major update. You could also optimize the programs for better performance, lower fees, etc. but that’s each to their own.

Working with a blockchain smart contract development agency

Knowing how custom software development differs from blockchain development, you might ask what to expect from the team you’ll be working with on the product and what they expect from you.

Make a great specification, then make it even better

There are a few things specific to this industry, but we must once more emphasize the importance of well-written requirements. The products we have worked on often get complex. A blockchain-based trading platform with 3 types of users and certain logic requires not only a brief description but a whole document, explaining business goals, interaction schemes, algorithm overviews, etc. Having a dev partner that understands your market is a great advantage, but even we can’t get into your head. 

Think critically about the blockchain platform you want to use

With blockchain-based software, the underlying platform is one of the key decisions to be made. The usual go-to platform for most projects is Ethereum. It’s great because of the largest user base among smart contract platforms and has a rock-solid market position. However, Solidity–its programming language–is hard to audit and prone to making bugs. The performance might be better in the future, but Ethereum is still rather slow and has high gas fees.

This is why it’s good to consider the broader market and choose blockchain that suits your idea. Solana, Near, Fantom, or Algorand are much faster than Ethereum and have minimal transaction fees. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, but making an informed decision in the early stages can improve the user experience, but also is decisive about the business when it comes to finding developers and users. 

Here you can read our guide on the topic.

Tell us all about the users

Going back to the point of defining the users, if your idea is in the early stages, the more a blockchain development agency knows about them, the better. Try to think about several user personas and all that is relevant to their characteristics. That will help much with understanding your goals and making user-centric decisions.

Make a realistic timeline

Blockchain development is an added complexity. This means the development takes slightly longer than with the usual software. You should also mind that your project would likely have to wait for available teams. Rarely a reputable software studio would sit unproductively, rather it has a queue of projects. For you–as a client–this translates into an added couple of weeks before your project can take off.

If you’re in a hurry, you can look for development agencies that have no queues, but proceed with caution–there might be a reason why they are free.

Have Other Questions? Let’s Talk!

Want to know more about blockchain software development? Don’t hesitate to contact us, so we can talk and explain all the details before you make a decision. We’re here to make your project shine!

Written by
Mateusz Raczyński
Marketing Manager

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