Defining Your Mobile App’s Scope
The most difficult part of creating a mobile App (for iOS, iPhone, iPad, or Android) is deciding what it should do. In general, the narrower your idea’s scope, the easier it will be to develop and market, so the key challenge here is to tighten up and reduce your requirements to the bare minimum (known as the Minimum Viable Product).
Where Do I Begin?
You should begin with your organization’s strategy. What are you currently attempting to accomplish? Is it gaining market share? Is it entering new markets? Is it protecting your market from new, disruptive competitors? After you’ve addressed this major question, you can concentrate on how you’ll use your new App to support your organization’s strategy.
Your app should have one or more objectives that are directly related to your company’s strategy. These could include things like:
- Increase our market share in key demographics significantly.
- Create the most widely used app in our industry.
- Provide a part finder service that allows our customers to locate replacements for our competitors’ part numbers.
At this point, you’re ready to get into the specifics of your app and what it will do. Consider the goals you’ve outlined above and how they might translate into the screens of your app, keeping in mind that the most significant and important aspect of any mobile app is the user experience. People will not return to your App if they have a bad experience or a bad user interface.
How Do You Create An App?
Don’t worry if you’re not technically savvy; there are numerous ways for non-techies to create a mobile App without investing in costly computer programs. A popular technique known as “Paper Prototyping” necessitates:
- A few paper widgets
- A working surface ( for example a magnetic whiteboard)
- Something to hold the widgets in place on the surface (small magnets or blutac perhaps)
- Some small post-it notes to attach to your prototype
If you need some widgets, you can borrow ours (which are based on Balsamiq’s widgets). It doesn’t matter too much what your widgets look like because we’re not attempting to create a high-fidelity representation of our App here; instead, we’re attempting to do the much more difficult task of designing a great user experience.
The process of using the widgets is straightforward:
- Begin with your app’s most important screen.
Which of your screens provides the most value to your users? Which screen is the most closely related to your App’s goals?
- Begin to layout your important screen on a large surface using your widgets.
- Involve as many people as possible from as many different backgrounds in this activity.
Top tip: Ideally, involve some real customers and users. You may discover that the fantastic feature you had planned was not at all what they desired. A diverse group generates a lot more ideas and alternatives.
- Don’t be afraid to have several different screen ideas running at the same time in order to encourage all of the best ideas.
- Once you’re satisfied with your first screen (it doesn’t have to be perfect), move on to the next most important screen, and so on.
- If you have a large enough surface, place the screens side by side and draw arrows or use red string to show how users will navigate through them.
Note it down
When you’re satisfied with your initial concept, it’s time to write it down electronically so you can easily share it with a larger audience. You could simply take a few photographs or use a mock-up tool, but high-fidelity tools like Photoshop should be avoided at this point. You will also be deferring detailed decisions about the user interface by using a mock-up tool until later, when the developers of your App will want to have some input. Remember that more changes are on the way, and the simpler the tools you use, the lower the cost of change.