When you have an idea for a platform or app, you might start paying closer attention to ones you use today, or new ones that do similar things to what you want to do. What you might notice is that there are some common things that you do in each of them. If you've added something, viewed a list of things; maybe even updated or deleted something, then you've performed a CRUD operation. In this article, I'll explain what they are and why you need to know about them.
What does CRUD stand for?
CRUD stands for Create, Read, Update, and Delete. These words refer to some very common things that you do on a daily basis. You add (or create) a post for Facebook. Then you view (or read) other people's posts. Maybe you edit (or update) an image in Canva, or delete one that you don’t like. If you start thinking about your interactions with different platforms and apps, you’ll find these are functions that are common to them all.
Seems simple enough, how do you use them?
Understanding what CRUD means is most important in the defining what you want your product to do. It relates to what the users in your platform or app should be able to do. As you think about the different processes that your users will go through to achieve their goals or solve their problems, you should also think about what CRUD operations they should be able to do.
It might seem simple to say - “oh yeah, they should be able to do all of those things”, but sometimes, it doesn’t end up that way. Maybe some users should be able to do all four things, but other users should only be able to view. What happens if you update a master list? How should the updates be distributed to users? What are the implications down the track if a person can delete something? Is it a permanent deletion where it is gone from the system altogether? Or maybe it’s just a case of “hiding’ it from the user to make it appear like it’s been deleted.
All of a sudden, you now have to start digging deeper into what you want your platform or app to do. For every feature and function, you should be thinking about what your users will be doing, but also what you want them to be able to do. Take some time to ponder all of this, as you’ll find it opens up a lot of complexity in your system that you might not have been aware of before.
What if you don’t do this?
The problem is that CRUD operations seem so obvious to people, that they either don’t even think about them. Alternatively, they subconsciously assume that their developers will build them anyways - because they’re a part of every system they’ve ever used.
The thing is - developers can only estimate and build based on what's specifically stated. It’s hard for someone to anticipate everything that’s not written down. If there’s something specific in the way you want your platform or app to work that’s not obvious to someone, then your developer either won’t build it, or they’ll build it in a way that you didn’t want. Who can blame them though? They’re not mind readers, and they’re running a business too - so the only way for someone to deliver to expectations is to have a clear definition of what needs to be built.
Imagine that you have a five features in your platform or app, and you only define your product with the create and update functions, but not the read and delete ones. All of a sudden, you’ve only covered 50% of what you need. Fast forward a few months, and your developers will be asking for more money!
So, when you’re looking to turn your idea into a product, consider your CRUD operations. Even though they sound simple, they have a big impact on your development project both in terms of the features that are developed and the overall cost.
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