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Developing An App – Episode 5 – Documenting Your Brief

13th July 2017

Before you engage with any potential development partner, you need to collate all your thoughts and aspirations for your app coherently ready for presentation. Don’t concern yourself with details such as what development language should be used, this is something the developers will manage and provide advice on. Your role at this stage is to provide a concise brief to communicate exactly what you would like to start the ball rolling. You don’t have to be technical to do this, just try to explain what you want your app to do.

Start with a simple requirement and expand on each descriptive within that requirement. For example your initial simple requirement may be:

I wish to develop an app that allows users to share their experiences skydiving.

This, in a nutshell, is a statement of what you would like. Now we need to expand on each of the key points in this statement:

App’ – Would this be Android, Apple or both? Do you need a website too? Would the website allow anyone to view skydivers and their experiences?

Users’ – Would these users need to be registered? Do we need to allow registration of those users and allow them to create a profile? Then take a selfie?

Share’ – Share with friends and/or other users only? Would this be on social media or just within the app? Could people follow you and get notifications of updates?

Experiences’ – Would this be text only or take/upload pictures? Upload video? Would be need a blog running up the event?

Skydiving’ – Are they doing this simply or pleasure or is it for charity? Do we need to reference a donation site? Do we accept donations?

So now we have asked these questions the updated requirement would look like this with the original text in bold to illustrate how we have expanded it;

I wish to develop an Android and iOS app that allows users to create an account with their main details in it including a photo via the app or a website to share with their friends on social media, via the skydiving website or app with their experiences posted via blog updates leading up to the event containing video and pictures of their  skydiving experience and give then links to their donation page if they are  doing this for charity.

We can see this is a lot more detailed than the original version and you need to carry on like this expanding and refining the detail where you can up to a point where you think you have added as much as you can think of. If we now analyse this last version of the requirement, it is probably one very long sentence with a few grammar issues but it does not matter. You now need to edit this text and you will find you have a clear initial brief of your app that any potential development partner would be pleased to receive as an initial starting point. You will also find that some information is duplicated but that is also fine and expected – remember the software developer will be creating a formal specification, pathways document and wireframes for you.

From our skydiving example you could have something like the following:

I wish to develop an Android and iOS app with accompanying website for the skydiving community to come together and share their experiences.

The app and website will allows users over the age of 16 to create an account with their main details such as Name, Address, email, gender, DOB and personal statement. They could also register using their social media or Google Account. They can assign a profile photo taken by the camera on the phone or uploaded from the Gallery. If they are doing a skydive for a charity they can register this date, give the event a description, enter a donation page link and their financial target. They can search for and follow other app users who could be there on the same date for the same reason and join their event, therefore when creating an event they need an alert if one already exists so they can join it. Once they follow another user or join an event, that users blog updates will be shared with them or followers. The user can also be notified of any other users who log that they are skydiving that same date, the same event and follow them if they wish.

To share their experiences with their friends who are not using the skydiving app, the app will allow connection to their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts either upon account creation or at a later stage. When linking their account to social media, the app will post an update to those accounts saying this user has downloaded the skydiving app to let their friends know they are taking a skydive, what date and if it’s is a charity event the links to the donation page. 

Their experiences can be recorded using the apps own blog containing text, emojis, video and pictures. When a post occurs on the blog this can update other app users who are following them or the event via notifications and an email too. The users who see these posts can also respond once again with text, emojis, video and pictures. Their linked social media accounts can also be updated from a blog post but this could be disabled on a post by post basis.

When leading up to their skydiving date, app users who follow them and social media can be reminded at 7 days and 1 day to give generously for their good cause with links to their donation page if they are doing this for charity. Once they have completed the jump they can flag the charity event as being complete and send a message to all app users who followed them and their social media pages thanking for their support.

Coming in Episode 6: How to choose the correct developer partner.