In the digital age, growing a small startup from a fledgling enterprise into a thriving business typically requires offering your products and services via a mobile app, at least in some capacity. Even if your app isn’t your main product, you should provide customers with a mobile solution that allows them to access some of your services while on-the-go.
This is true regardless of your business’ size. Even small businesses benefit from custom software, but your custom software doesn’t need to be strictly customer-facing, either. You might also hire developers to create an app that helps your employees work more efficiently.
That’s not to say you need to hire an in-house development team to create your app. Often, the wiser financial decision is to hire third-party developers to transform your ideas into a working product.
Naturally, you’ll want to stay up-to-date on your development team’s progress as they work on your app. This usually involves coordinating with a project manager. Most reputable development companies assign project managers to both oversee the development process and address client questions.
The individual who may eventually serve as the project manager for your app’s development might also be the individual with whom you first discuss your plans when explaining what you want your product to achieve.
A strong project manager should actively ask questions and make a sincere effort to understand your goals during this phase. However, to ensure the developers you hire deliver a product that satisfies both you and your customers, you should also prioritize thoroughly explaining your ideas when initially discussing your project. Don’t expect a project manager to read your mind and know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.
This can seem difficult if you don’t have a technical background. You may know what you want the developers to create, but you might also struggle to describe your plans effectively.
That doesn’t need to be the case. During the early planning stages, when you’re explaining your vision to a project manager, keep the following tips in mind. They’ll help you communicate your vision clearly and accurately.
A successful mobile app or site needs to stand apart from the competition. You’ll struggle to attract a dedicated user base if your product is just a rip-off of an existing app.
However, you can (and likely will) take inspiration from at least some of the features and design qualities of other apps when envisioning your own.
Keep a running list of apps that have inspired you. Whether you were inspired by the overall design of a digital product, or you were merely inspired by one small feature of an app, being able to show a project manager an example of what you’re describing when you explain features or design traits you want your product to have will help you feel much more confident in their understanding of your goals.
Ask for Suggestions
A development team’s primary goal should be to create a quality product that boasts the features and qualities you asked for during the planning stages. That said, it’s important to remember that if you don’t have a development background, it’s highly likely the developers you hire will be familiar with new technologies, innovations, and resources you’re unaware of. These innovations can potentially enhance your app.
Ask the project manager if they have any suggestions for improving upon your ideas when discussing your plans. If you don’t, you’re depriving yourself of the opportunity to benefit from their expertise.
Organize Your Ideas
This is a crucial point that many overlook when preparing to discuss their goals with a development team or project manager.
You may have many ideas regarding the types of features, capabilities, and design qualities your app should offer. Some of these traits may be essential. Others might be “add-ons” that aren’t necessarily required for the app to deliver value to users.
Familiarize yourself with the idea of the “minimum viable product.” The MVP is basically a stripped down version of your app featuring the minimum capabilities and qualities necessary to satisfy early users.
Organizing your ideas so that you know which features the MVP version of your app must have and which features additional versions may benefit from is advantageous for several reasons. One, by focusing only on the critical features, you can more clearly define how your customers will generally use the app. This helps you plan an app that’s more likely to deliver genuine value.
Additionally, when a development team first prioritizes creating an MVP, they can then add more features later after beta users and early-adopters have provided their feedback. This helps you save time and money. Instead of wasting time developing an early version of the app with features that are eventually determined to be unnecessary, your development team can focus only on the essentials at the beginning. Once users have had a chance to test your app, you and the development team will have a better sense of which extra features should be included in future iterations.
(Note: User feedback isn’t always direct. While some early users may be willing to answer questions about their experience with your product, others might indirectly tell you how they feel about it based on the way they use the app.)
Similar to referencing examples of apps that possess qualities you want your app to have, this tip can help you depict in a very concrete way your vision for the user experience.
When considering the types of features your app will offer, think specifically about how you envision users accessing those features. For example, perhaps you’re creating an eCommerce app for a business that sells a wide range of items. You want to ensure customers who open the app can easily find the types of items they’re looking for as efficiently as possible. Thus, you should think about how they will smoothly navigate from the homescreen to the relevant “page.”
Draft a flowchart or a series of basic drawings showing how you imagine a user performing this task. While this may take some time, it will pay off in the long run, as you’ll be offering your project manager a clear visual depiction of an idea that can otherwise be difficult to properly describe verbally.
Don’t Forget Practical Details
Of course, it’s also important to discuss such factors as deadlines and budgets when planning an app development project. Just remember that you need to strike a balance here. While it’s tempting to hire developers who promise to deliver an app at a low-cost by a very optimistic deadline, you could end up wasting your money if you hire an unqualified team who rushes through your project. Account for your budget and timeline, but don’t sacrifice quality in favor of saving time and money.
Also remember that the project manager should still be responsive to your questions and suggestions throughout the development process. Your early discussions are not the only instances when you’ll coordinate with the project manager. Although you should make a point of fully expressing your goals from the start, you should also feel comfortable reaching out to the project manager in the future if you believe additional discussions are necessary.