How to Plan Your App Before Approaching an Agency
Mason Carter wrote this article
When entrepreneurs and businesses approach us at Chop Dawg, often it’s their first time working with an app development company.
Some companies already have a technical infrastructure and dedicated IT team, but mobile development isn’t their forte. Some have a detailed plan covering the app’s basics from A-Z; still other entrepreneurs aren’t quite sure what shape they want their app to take.
Regardless of exactly where you’re at in the planning process, it can all feel a bit overwhelming.
Likely, you have a lot of questions about the app development process, costs, timeline, and most of all: What the app itself should be.
Taking the time to plan your app carefully will save you headaches down the road
Planning is the most critical part of the process of bringing an app to life.
When you first approach us or any app development company, you’ll be asked about your app’s requirements.
It’s so important that we accurately define these requirements together from the very beginning so that we can put together a gameplan that works.
Of course there’s the technical requirements. But before you even get into that, you need to do something else too.
It’s also important to write out your requirements from a non-technical perspective.
What do you want your app to be? To feel like? What is the mission?
Essentially, what is your day-one vision and how do you want Chop Dawg to bring it to life?
The most important thing is to be as detailed as possible. We tell each of our potential clients to write about their application in the most basic and detailed way possible.
Honestly, you should write about your application as though we don’t even know what a web or mobile app is.
One hurdle to overcome early on: you understand your idea intimately… but we don’t yet
You have probably spent days, months, even years thinking about your app.
When you’re that close to an idea, it can be easy to overlook sharing details about things that may feel obvious to you, but might not be to someone new to your app.
One of the first things that we’ll tell you is to document your idea on paper, going from the 30,000ft view to the intimate details – we call this a Book of Genesis.
We know the questions to ask to bring each of your app’s nuances to light.
But we also believe it’s a good exercise for you to flesh out your requirements on your own first, and then we can help you to expand on it where necessary.
This is an opportunity for you to document your vision and explain it to someone that has never heard it before.
This Book of Genesis won’t just help us. It will help you, too. When it comes time to eventually pitch your app idea to investors, potential customers and users, you’ll need an intimate understanding of your app.
To get started, write down as detailed as you can, every single element and feature that you want your application to have.
Think of it this way:
If you could write an application with words instead of code, how would you write about it?
From the user registration to the core features, to how you want the app to feel, let it all out!
The most important thing is to be as detailed as possible. Write this as if we didn’t know what a web app or mobile app is. Since this is your Book of Genesis, you can define everything in a non-technical way, but keep everything as detailed and to the point as possible.
This is your opportunity not to leave anything open to interpretation
Believe us when we tell you, leaving anything open to interpretation when it comes to your app will only cause pain and confusion on both sides later on.
This is something to be avoided at all costs, otherwise, you could be looking at delayed project timelines, added costs, and a big headache.
When you’re at this stage of planning for your app and trying to find a partner to work with you for the next several months, you want to make sure that both sides are on the same page right from the beginning.
Writing a Book of Genesis for your app is a great time to go through an internal exercise, too.
As you begin listing every single detail out, ask yourself: What are the need-to-haves verses the nice-to-haves?
Remember that the more features and functionalities you include in the day-one vision for your app, the more your costs and timeframe will grow. More than a few incredible app ideas have fallen victim to scope creep. Don’t let that be you.
When it comes to getting started with your Book of Genesis, there are a few general questions that you should ask yourself:
1. Describe your business and why you are looking to build an application. Are there any industry trends and insights you have that we should consider? Who do you envision is going to use your application?
2. Are there are any applications out there that you particularly admire? Any features and experiences that you would like to see on your application that others currently have? While your application should be unique, it’s important to figure out your likes and dislikes, what works and what doesn’t, when it comes to applications currently out there.
3. What are the features of your application that you would want to have? Mark any features that you believe are a priority for a day-one release and those that you feel are secondary. Remember, you can always add updates to your app.
4. What is your ideal budget? How soon do you want to launch your app? This is important because it may impact which features are considered a priority and which should be considered secondary.
5. Walk us through the steps of how you would like a user to experience your application. Explain in words all of the things that you would like a user to be able to do from the very first moment of opening up your app. What are all of the possibilities with your application?
The features you choose as essential are especially important
We hope that while you write your Book of Genesis, you’ll come to realize which functions are vital to the user experience, and which are not.
Which features genuinely give value to your users? Which features, if they were missing, would completely change or even invalidate your app’s experience?
Again, remember, this should be your first version, the entry-level concept of your product. We’ve found that users don’t like applications with too many features from the get-go!
Writing out your Book of Genesis will give you a strong sense of what you want your app to look like at launch versus future iterations.
Let’s go through an example together:
Say you want us to build an application that heavily relies on communication between users. Some features that would be essential for launch would be the ability to create profiles, messaging, and notifications. However, you may also want the ability for people to share their screens. This is an example of a feature that would not be essential for a day-one version of your app.
It all comes down to being able to explain every facet your application
The more you tell us, the more we can help you.
A lot of clients have said that they appreciate our help fleshing out their ideas from the beginning. It’s something that is so important to us because we know it ensures it smooth sailing throughout the entire process, especially once we hit development.
The more we flesh out your idea together from the very beginning, starting with the Book of Genesis, the easier it will be to get started on the proposal process.
The proposal process is where we take all of the details that you wrote in your Book of Genesis, and tell you what will be needed on the tech side of things. We take the non-technical language of your Book of Genesis and turn it into your app’s technical requirements. Think of us as your translators! From non-technical to technical.
By writing your app’s Book Of Genesis, you’ll get to know your idea more intimately than ever before, ensuring your future app matches your vision to a T.