What Should You Build First? How I Build Beautiful MVPs Quickly

I’m not a designer. I may have little design experience, but I would never claim that I’m one. I’ve mentioned how I find UI/UX design tedious compared to software development multiple times in the past.

In the development process I’m used to, different teams handle design and development. As a frontend dev, I’ve never had to worry about conjuring prototypes or building a solid backend.

Now that I’ve started building my first SaaS of 2022, I’ve been forced to handle all the aspects of development myself, which is something all solo founders have to do.

I’ve built countless applications alone in the past, yet, handling the development and the design on my own has never gotten easier.

Building the backend first

When building my last side project, I built the backend, then the frontend, and tweaked the design along the way.

Doing this was an absolute pain.

Because it was unclear how my application would look, behave and work, I changed my database schema more times than I could count. I also kept switching some of my dev tools because they became inadequate over time.

Unless you can clearly define how your application should look and work from the get-go, whether on a piece of paper or in your favorite note-taking app, your requirements will rapidly change as you build a product from scratch without designs.

This is, unfortunately, one of the skills I don’t have 😅

Designing Before You Build

I believe 100% that you can’t go wrong doing this. Every single time I’ve built an app with pre-existing designs, I’ve been able to develop crazy quickly.

Unfortunately for me, I’m not a designer. I mentioned this at the start of the article.

I know how to use tools like Figma and Sketch for prototyping, yet, I never have enough patience to sit down and design.

Designing a complete app with Figma takes me over a week to complete, which is time I’d much rather spend building my idea. I also have a habit of tweaking my designs once I start developing them.

If you have the patience, I can definitely recommend doing this!

Making a compromise. Build your Frontend First

As I said, I don’t think building your backend before your frontend/designs are ready is a good idea. I also don’t have the patience to create designs or prototypes before developing my applications.

I started building my next SaaS in public today, so I decided to take a different approach.

I’m building the majority of the frontend before I even touch the backend.

Why I Use Code as My “Design Tool”

With modern tools, I’m can iterate over different design ideas in my code extraordinarily quickly.

The most critical tool I’ve used is Tailwind CSS, making it unfathomably easy to style HTML. Tailwind makes it easy to design parts of my application almost as fast as using a tool like Figma.

Mocking the data passed into my UI also lets me better understand what’s required to build the backend of my applications.

Doing this will make connecting my backend to my frontend painless in the future.

Of course, you should always use what works best for you. If building the backend first helps you develop faster, go for it!

Today (which is the first day of my build in public challenge) I managed to build three pages of my application. So far, things have gone much smoother than I expected.

I’ve also managed to grow from 0 to 30 followers on Twitter within four days 🎉! Moving slowly but surely :D

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