If you’ve made it this far, then you have a firm grasp on what your customers need and how your product is going to solve that. Wait to move forward if you have any lingering doubts, or refer to our “How to Test your Mobile App Idea” blog post for a refresher. With that out of the way, it’s time to start speccing out your mobile app!
The goal for creating your first prototype is to narrowly define your Minimum Viable Product. We’ve mentioned the Minimum Viable Product (or MVP) in previous blog posts, but let’s get into detail at this stage in your startup journey.
The MVP is the grouping of most important and basic features of your product that will function to solve your customer’s problem. Think of it as cutting all the fat away and leaving only the leanest and most basic version of your product. Approaching your product this way serves several purposes:
- You only pay for the software development you absolutely need to start selling
- You cut down on development time, which is critical when burning capital before you can start making money
- You are able to get a functioning product into the market as quickly as possible
- Potential investors will be able to interact with a tangible product
The key to accurately build your MVP is to organize and analyze the feedback you gathered from your target market. If you gathered enough information, you should be able to identify the most critical need your audience has and focus your product development and wireframing around solving that problem. All other additional features can wait until after you’ve got the first version of your product out on the market. This process is most efficient when it is collaborative. Work with people you trust to dig into your collected feedback and determine which features can go and which are an absolute must. These decisions can then influence the next step, your final wireframe.
Chances are, you’ve already put together some sort of wireframe. We like to use Figma, but you can complete a basic wireframe with tools as simple as pencil and paper. At this stage in the game it’s time to finalize what your product will look like so that your developers can get to work. It’s crucial that you don’t miss a step here and cause extra work to be tacked on later.
Every good wireframe is going to start with your user flow. You should have a firm grasp on who your users are and where they are coming from when they use your app. What state of mind are they in? What emotions do you want them to feel? These sorts of questions should influence how you usher them through your app experience in as few steps as possible.
A note on User Experience (UX)
Unless your are a professional designer, you likely aren’t an expert in creating seamless and elegant transitions in app experiences or websites. That’s okay, as you can always revise and improve later. Instead of trying to make your app look perfect, focus on making your app look as simple as possible without sacrificing critical functionality.
After your wireframe has been picked apart and refined with a fine-toothed comb, it’s time to hand it off to the developers. A good dev shop will take your documentation and give you an honest estimate of the cost for producing exactly what you need, and nothing more. This stage might involve a bit more tweaking after the developers ask questions about your wireframe. It’s also a great time to have a UX designer make last-minute tweaks to your design to give it a professional look.
Set expectations with your developers that you are expecting the most efficient outcome to get your finished prototype. You will have the best experience if you are communicating regularly with your development team, and they are working hand-in-hand with you as your product comes to life. At Deep Fork we organize our development process in pay-as-you-go sprints with feedback at each stage in the process. This way, you can chime in if something is not coming together as you had planned, and you are not on the hook for any work you did not expect.
Whoever you work with, whether it’s us or your own team, plan to communicate your plans. Many first-time startup owners find costs spiralling out of control at this stage, and unfortunately many businesses fail simply because they did not have enough funds to get off the ground. You can plan around this problem by carefully documenting your MVP and staying in close contact with your development team.
We’re always available to help you plan and develop your technology, even if it’s just a friendly phone call to set your mind at ease. Reach out to us if you’re ever in need of a helping hand! Stay tuned for the final installment of our Mobile App series, How to find investors for your mobile app.