Here’s How to Make Your App Idea Come Alive

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship / January 6, 2014

 Your app idea is like any new product. If you’re in the business of product development you’ll already be familiar with the elements of concept, design, build, deployment, marketing and maintenance.

If you’re in another type of industry (such as service or hospitality) now’s your chance to tap into a whole new skill set as you create a fantastic product that is going to find a unique and valuable place in this exciting market place.

A lot of creative producers see products almost like their ‘babies’. And this is a useful way to look at your app. It’s like a little person you’re going to send out into the world. You need to make sure it’s strong, healthy, confident and equipped to deal with everything that comes along.

And – just like a baby – it all starts with conception. Only in this case, you have a lot more control over the elements that make up your app!

There are really 2 steps to crystallizing your app idea, and they are both creative- writing & drawing!

1. Write a detailed concept document

This gives you a strong foundation for your app development. It will show where there may be gaps in your concept and help you flesh out the detail and planning. It might even help you discover a crucial idea that was lying under the surface.

Here are the key elements your concept document should cover:

1. What does your app do?

2. Who will use it?

3. How will they benefit from it?

4. Most apps are for:

• Entertainment (Angry Birds)

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• Useful information (The Weather Channel)

• Practical assistance (Easy Battery Saver)

• Transactions/retail (Apple Store)

• Task completion (Whatsapp Messenger)

Which is yours?

5. What other apps are similar?

6. How will yours be better or fulfil a unique need?

7. What kinds of apps does your target audience use?

8. Do you know what platform you want to develop for?

9. What other resources do you have to support the development (especially when it comes to marketing)?

NOTE: Market research is absolutely crucial. You must know that there is a demand for your app and an existing (or yet to be created) market that needs it. 

2.  Draw the picture of your app

But I’m not an artist!

It doesn’t matter. Apps happen in a visual medium. Unlike websites that generally rely on content to convey their meaning, apps are all about visual functionality.

Create hand drawn sketches of the various screens of your app, they don’t need to be great designs, so long as they contain all the functionality you want to see.

While it might sound like this is the time to bring in the graphic designer (let them draw it, that’s what they’re good at!) it is in fact a crucial prior step.

No one else will understand what you want your app to achieve the way you do. It’s important that a graphic designer work FROM your idea not CREATE your idea (unless of course you’re in partnership, which is a different matter).

Even if they are very rudimentary, your sketches will bring the visual aspect of your app to life. They will also prompt you to ask (and answer) a number of key questions such as:

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• Will your app cross over from mobile to tablet and desktop devices?

• How many steps (screens) do you want in your app? Here is a hint – the fewer the better. Simple apps are generally much more appealing.

• What key visual elements must be included in order to optimize functionality?

• Do you need to secure rights for any images, logos or branding?

Instructions for sketching:

1. Take a piece of paper and draw a rectangle shape (this represents the device screen)

2. Write the name of the screen on the top of the page

3. Draw button shapes and insert the words for what you want to happen on this screen

4. Make any notes about process

5. Draw or write any graphics or imagery you want to appear

6. Do the same thing for each screen of your app (if there is more than one)

Even though it may seem counter-intuitive to not jump straight into development, following these tenets will help you work within a reasonable budget and give your developer a clear picture of your vision.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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