Earlier today I had the privilege of giving a presentation on mobile application development planning at a digital marketing conference in London, ON.
I’ve noticed that many brands and businesses have thrown planning (and sometimes common sense) to the wind when it comes to launching, or thinking about launching, a mobile application. While I’m an advocate of moving quickly and iterating post-launch, I also understand the need to think things through.
If you’re thinking about building a mobile application it might be worth considering the following steps:
Answer this question: ‘Are we building this application for ourselves or for our customers?’
If your response is anything other than ‘for our customers’ it’s time to rethink launching a publicly-available mobile application. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.00
List all the features.
This step is necessary if you know you can provide value but aren’t really sure of the features you’ll use to do it. Start with a blank page/whiteboard/screen and list everything you think your app could do. You’ll come up some good ideas and some not-so-good ideas. Take your time here and make the list as large as you can.
Narrow your feature-set and draft an application definition statement.
The feature brainstorm should leave you with a couple of clear themes or related features that could be packaged as a focused app. As mentioned in the iOS Human Interface Guidelines, your application definition statement should describe the following:
- the purpose of your application
- who it’s for and how they’ll use it
- its core functionality
Find a replacement.
You may want to have a quick look at replacement apps if you’ve come to the conclusion that you should build a to-do app. There are tons. It doesn’t make sense to compete in a class where you can’t offer any strong, differentiating features.
Analyze your competition from a strengths and weaknesses perspective. Try really hard to render your idea irrelevant.
Filter your feature-set through your user profile.
Congratulations, you’ve made it far enough to compare your proposed value proposition to the needs, habits, and characteristics of your customers. Specifically, take a look at what you perceive to be most important to them. If you have the budget I recommend extending this step to include primary research in the form of an audience study or survey.
Any features that aren’t important to your users should be removed.
At the conclusion of the previous step you should have a refined feature set and a clear application definition statement. Take this and start working with your design and development team to make it happen. Don’t wait any longer.