OK, you have made the final decision. Your organisation needs an app. But how do you proceed? Where do you start and what tasks have to be completed? Every app must have a clear roadmap with several stages. Complete them all and you will have a good start.
At Shareforce we use a four-stage model. Every stage starts at the left side and is completed fully before we progress to the next stage.
Everything starts with a general idea. In this stage you will look at the needs of your target market. Are you sure an app is the best solution? Write down a description of your app in a basic concept. The output of this stage is a couple of pages with a full description and a flowchart of the contents of your app. Make a decision for iOS (iPhone, iPad), Android or other platforms in this stage too.
In this stage you do some detailed planning. Start with a clear, full description of all the features of your app. Together with the flowchart from the previous stage and the features you make the first sketches. They are called “wireframes”. You can do this on paper or with a software tool like Mockflow. The wireframes force you to think about the position and links between the different elements of your app. After that give some thought about the budget you are willing to spend. Together with your app developer you decide if everything you came up with fits in the budget. Often you will have to make choices. But that’s good, because it focuses your mind on what’s most important.
Before you start with the actual development, first the wireframes have to be transferred into a final design. Changing stuff later is inefficient and costly, so it’s better to have a final design before developers start working on your project. In most cases the backend (like an API) also have to be prepared to serve content or other elements in your app. If all is done, developers can start with their work. This part is the most time consuming. Be sure to do proper testing afterwards to prevent mistakes and errors.
Too often, this stage is forgotten. You are not even close to the finish, once you have an app completed. A good introduction into the appstore and lots of marketing afterwards is necessary to make your app successful. And don’t forget to integrate Google Analytics to be able to measure what works and what does not. This gives you an opportunity to do a proper evaluation and improve your app later. Both in time and budget we advise to use about 50% of your budget for the promotion stage. There is a lot of competition out there, so instant success is very rare!