App developers aren’t mind readers. Be sure to come prepared with the following to avoid client-developer dissonance in realizing your app idea.
☑ 1. Knowledge and Acceptance of a MVP
Embrace the concept of a minimum viable product. One should validate the basic usefulness of an application for its intended users before launching the user-untested application into the market. Rather than having your app developer build an application with all the bells and whistles at the start, focus on developing something simpler that fulfills your application’s baseline functionality. This will avoid building a product that is unnecessarily feature-heavy, and allow for some agility in adding or adjusting functionalities as your app goes through different iterations.
Read The Lean Startup for how to cost-effectively develop a product and optimize its launch.
☑ 2. Preliminary Documents and Wireframes
Bullet Point One-Pager
Put your ideas into writing before consulting an app developer. At a bare minimum you should have a bullet point summary of what your application does. This may be communicated later in the form of a “User Story” that illustrates a user’s experience as he/she navigates through the application. This exercise will not just help you clarify your application idea yourself, it will also be very useful in making communications much easier with potential app developers.
If you have a very clear image of not only what your application does but what it would look like, wireframing is an excellent exercise to communicate your vision. A wireframe is like a storyboard of your application, with each panel a mock-up that illustrates what users would see and experience as they navigate through the application. In beginning stages, wireframes can be easily done as rough sketches on paper and scribbles on a whiteboard. There are many wireframing tools available online that range from simple and barebones to sophisticated and interactive.
With bullet point user stories and perhaps wireframes in hand, your developer will have a much clearer picture of your app idea.
☑ 3. Use Existing Applications as References
Let’s face it, novel app ideas are a rarity in the app world. Apps are either developed in parallel to similar applications, or are somewhat iterations of apps that existed before them. When approaching a potential developer, it’s good to reference existing applications to illustrate your app idea. Let’s say you’re looking to build an application that functions to match startups with VCs or co-founders at organized events. You can follow the formula of taking features from app A that you like and pairing them with the functionality of app C like the example below:
E.g., The user login portal of event planning application + a matchmaking platform with a user experience similar to Tinder = Co-founder/VC matchmaking platform
Be sure to communicate this to your developer and in your preliminary/bullet point app document.
Other Things to Consider Before Consulting an App Developer
☑ 1. Discerning Whether That NDA is Really Necessary
To be frank, ideas aren’t that valuable. Unless you’re an already established company an NDA brought at the outset can be a sign of off-putting amateurism. Some developers will charge a fee or outright refuse to sign an NDA at the very start as it reeks of distrust and/or contains clauses that are simply not feasible to abide by. Reputable developers will abide by ethical business practices in not stealing technology or sensitive data, but promising to secure an intangible idea is not something they can always do— they’ve probably heard it and/or have developed similar technology. As virtually no idea is thoroughly original, an NDA can put developers in a bind as not replicating your idea/feature that can be seen and implemented across different applications isn’t always realistic.
If you’re still in the stage of funding your application, please do not ask investors to sign an NDA as you will be laughed out of the room. Investors have 0 time to steal and facilitate projects themselves. They likely also deal with plenty of pitches that resemble your own.
There are, however, circumstances that merit asserting the litigious document. When appropriate, do take along a drafted non-disclosure agreement to protect your company’s intellectual property and peace of mind.
☑ 2. Having an Understanding of Web App Vs. Mobile App
Web applications are hosted on servers and can be accessed via web browser to use on both desktop and mobile devices. Mobile applications are downloaded into our phones and are generally distributed at an app marketplace. If you’re envisioning a mobile application, you will likely need features characteristic of a web application’s server component to do the following:
- push updated content into your device
- connect your app to a social media platform
- sync content between multiple devices
- allow people to see data on a web browser
- and the list goes on
Starting with a web application that is usable across different devices is often the more cost effective way to start your application.
☑ 3. Having a Realistic Budget and a Great Co-Founder
No well established freelancer or development agency will work for free or for a share of equity because of your million dollar idea. If you don’t have a sizeable budget, rather than first approaching app developers or investors, consider finding a great cofounder with the knowledge and credibility that can further refine and validate your idea. A well thought out application is always one that is more palatable for developers and investors.
Do Contact Gravit-e for your startup needs!