So How Do We Go About Building This?
Many of clients are business people who may not be technical or familiar with the development cycle. One of the things we pride ourselves in is helping people with big ideas turn those ideas into big technology.
Project management is very important in the development cycle, and can often be the difference between a success project and a project that failed due to resource constraints. On the other hand, I’ve seen cases of over-management as well. I’ve been through hundreds of projects and these steps will help guide communication and get all parties on the same page.
If you have an idea, you’re off to a great start! But seriously, oftentimes, we sit around for ours coming with new app ideas but can’t think of anything (developers are not always the most creative people).
Ideas should be well-thought out in a business sense as well (recall to Porter’s 5 Forces). Who is your target audience and what competition is there for this idea?
Ideas don’t have to be completely original either. Just improving something that is done poorly is often a very profitable plan.
The design can a more elaborate written plan, wireframes, templates, or illustrations/photoshop. It should contain at least the minimum number of screens to get the app to function. The design should also consider the direction of the app. Anything made in the early stages could be refined later.
For example, let’s say you want to build a Tinder-like site. You need to design the main swiping screen. Other screens like log-in and option menus aren’t important yet.
Another example of design is to design the user experience. This is a very thorough thought process on what the user will experience from first looking at the application to using it on a regular basis.
Now the development team is ready to get their feet wet. At this point, we (the developers) will take the idea and design and concoct an intial development strategy. We will draw a timeline on what needs to be done, and what resources are required to do this project. For a web dashboard project (our specialty), we would need to consider the following:
How will users connect to your application? The standard these days are to use Facebook/Google authentication, but username/password authentications are still the norm. If the app is only for internal use, then internal users will still have to be able to authenticate.
What data needs to be stored? Does the data need to be real-time? What do we want to do with the data that is collected? Depending on the complexity of the data, the database will need to be set up differently.
This is arguably the most important component for consumer products, but might not be so important for internal-use apps.
For complicated apps, this is the most troublesome. Developers can’t make up the business logic for you. For example, let’s go back to building our dating site. What will happen when someone matches? Which potential matches will be shown first? What will happen when there are no more potential matches to show?
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
The difference between the prototype and the MVP is that the MVP is ready to be sold or consumed by end users. I’m not going to get too technical about this though, as it’s very often interchanged. The MVP might not have all the features intended on final launch.
Usually, the MVP is a stage to start collecting user data. For the dating site example, we need to collect user profiles so there are matches. When the MVP is ready, users can sign up and start using the app.
Here are some more things to think about:
Once we start collecting data, it’s going to be difficult to migrate the application to a new technology. At this point, we need to be more certain that the backend architecture is going to work going forward.
Before users start testing the app, we need to properly test the app functionality. The last thing you want is for early adopters to encounter bugs and spread negative information about your app.
Since we’re collecting data, the app needs to be secure at this point. For websites, SSL needs to be reviewed. For apps, sensitive information needs to checked. Also, since the app is eligible to make money at this point, any financial procedures need to be safeguarded.
At this point, you’re going to receive a lot of really valuable feedback. Also, at this point, changes to the app are going to be much more expensive (costs, time, loss users, downtime, etc). So you need to take this early monitoring feedback very seriously.
Back to our dating app example, let’s say women are getting too much spam from male users and men are complaining about not having enough matches. Before we start building out the rest of the app features we were planning on, let’s address this issue first.
This is really up to the entrepreneur. Many entrepreneurs are happy with their current product and see a satisfying revenue stream continuing in the future. Other entrepreneurs will want to keep improving their application forever (or until IPO).