You’ve validated your idea! What’s Next!

If you missed the first article in the series — there’s no need to fret. You can easily catch up here.

This is where you’re currently at.

You have an awesome mobile app idea. Better yet, you’ve validated it by considering these factors:

  • Figured out what problem your app is going to solve.

  • Identified the unique value proposition of your app.

  • Identified and examined your target audience.

  • Scoped out your competitors.

You’ve pitched the app to your family, trusted friends, and even those strangers that you met in the coffee shops and standing at street corners. You’ve checked out your competitors, you know why yours will be better than anyone else’s attempt, and you know exactly who you’re going to market it to.

So now what?

You have come to the point where you now need to decide on the design and technical specs for your app. These are the specifications that you will provide to a designer and developer, who will in turn turn your app into a reality.

Furthermore, your specifications will be presented in a sheet / document that will feature a general overview of your app, a design spec sheet and a technical spec sheet.

1. The General Overview of the App

This section will be presented first in your documents, but you may want to write it after you’ve had a chance to think through the design aspects .

In the general overview you should:

  • Explain all of the definitions, acronyms, and abbreviations that are to be used in the document.

  • Describe the goals of your App.

  • Describe the target audience of your App.

  • List and prioritise the mobile platforms your App is intended to run on.

  • Specify your project’s budget.

  • List major milestones (dates for alpha testing, beta testing, MVP (minimal viable product) creation, prototyping, pre-release to the app store placement etc), the due dates that you have in mind, and the desired timeframe for proof of concept and delivery. We’ll disucss this in a future posting.

2. Sketch out all your thoughts

Let’s start by putting pen to whiteboard.

Break out the product/site into the logical areas and hierarchies.

Draw/create various wireframes and sketches organize where things go on the screen.

How do you visualise your app? What will each ‘page’ look like? Bring your great ideas to life by sketching them and making them tangible. Why? Because this will allow you to lay down some foundations and provide your app with an estimate layout, structure, and ‘look’. It will also help you define your goals.

While you complete a ‘page-by-page’ sketch, think of past apps that you liked. What was so great about them? Are you able to incorporate any of these benefits into your design (e.g., navigation, under experience, layout)?

3. Creating Your Design Specifications

With your sketches fresh in your mind, the next step is to complete the Design Specifications. These are the guidelines for your visual designer and developer which should consider.

Create Mockups

Test the mockups (with user interface) by creating prototypes or experiments.

After the mockups have been vetted, it’s now time to code up the interface – UI Design!

Once the usability of the UI has been honed, create the technical specifications

Visual  Design: This is more than what the app will look like, and what colours you’re intending to use. You should also consider fonts, images, layout, transitions between pages, general and specific functions, as well as icon(s) for the app, any websites that it would be affiliated with, and the content tone/voice that you want for the site.

User Experience (UX) Design: While this could be considered as part of the visual design, a special emphasis should be palced on consider all the ‘pages’ with a focus on how users will navigate through each page. It will help to refer back to your sketches!

If you’re graphically minded, creating a design spec sheet for your app is a task that you could probably tackle yourself.  If not, it’s probably best to let a professional handle it. At the end of the day, this is the experience that he users will be using on a regular basis, so you need to provide the best user experience that you can.

A visual designer will be beneficial for you if:

  • You want your app to stand out from a large crowd (e.g., games and entertainment).

  • You want to convey quality and trust (e.g., finance).

A UI or UX Designer would be beneficial for you if you want an app that :

  • Has complex features and navigations areas.

  • Will be used constantly.

  • Is super easy to use.

  • Needs to perform actions very quickly.

You need to ensure that the designers provide wireframes that take all of this into consideration. Your developers will then code these wireframes and turn your app idea into a reality.

4. Technical Specifications

Many of us aren’t app developers and, while we can learn, it would probably end up eating too much into our precious time. There are questions that need to be answered within a technical spec:

  • On what platform will your app be built? Android, Apple iOS, or both.

  • Do you require push notifications and geolocation services?

  • Will users have to login within your app? And if they do, how are they going to login? Via inputting email details? Via a social media account?

  • Will your users have to create personal profiles? Will this consist of having to enter information about themselves that may be viewed publicly?

  • How are you going to make money from your app? Through up-front costs, in-app purchases, or is it just going to be free?

  • Will your app require your users to review or rate things (e.g., a food delivery or music app)

  • Do you want your app to connect to your website or other social media channels?

  • Are the graphics used in the app going to be stock images, or are they going to be customised (something to also discuss with the designer)?

  • How is the app going to collaborate with the server? Here you need to describe (in detail) the kind of app-server interactions mechanisms and protocols that need to take place.

  • Will data caching for offline work be required?

  • Will there be printing functionality?

  • Do you require compatibility/syncing with e-commerce engines, internal CMS, and any other systems?

Summary

Easy, right? It’s totally understandable if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, most of us have been in the exact same position as you. That’s why it’s so important to have am experienced professionals by your side.

This is the end of the second post on ‘Creating an App’. At this point you should:

  • Be able to complete an app specification document (the general overview, design specifications, and the technical specifications).

  • Collaborate with a friend, family member, or colleague, and use their advice.

  • Be ready to release a prototype of your app.

In the next article, we’ll look a little further into properly establishing an efficient relationship between you and your developer / designer. We’ll look into creating milestones, while also examining User Acceptance Testing, Alpha Testing, Beta Testing, and MVPs. If you have any opinions and thoughts that you want us to include in the upcoming article, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

For those who already created an app, what steps did you follow? What were your hardest obstacles? What advice would you give others? Comment below!