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A Guide to Application Development for Non-Developers

A Guide to Application Development for Non-Developers

Part 1: The Foundation Phase

So you’ve got a great idea for an app. But since you’re not a developer, you have no idea how to turn that great idea into an app. And though it occurs to you that a number of firms (such as this one) can transform your great idea into a great app, that awareness only increases the number of questions you may ask. Which firm to use? Why? What’s the process? What happens when the app is written?

In the series of blogs that follows, we’ll outline the process by which applications are created. Fundamentally, there are three phases:

During these three phases, if your application development partner is doing their job properly, your idea will metamorphose into an app.  If you’re looking at a firm that isn’t doing some version of the activities that we’ll be describing in these posts, keep looking — for they are falling below the industry standard and compromising the likelihood of your success from the start.

The Foundation Phase

At Distillery, we start the software development process with questions – lots of questions. Primarily, those questions are designed to identify, as clearly as possible, your business goals and the role your app plays in attaining those goals. What is the nature of the problem or opportunity that your app is intended to address? What is your app supposed to do? For whom will it do these things? What features do you envision it having? What benefits does it deliver?

The list goes on. How great is the need for this app? How many other applications are out there like yours? And how can your app do a better job at connecting with the needs of users? This process of inquiry helps both our team and you understand more about the app you want built. What are the underlying assumptions? Are they actually valid assumptions? Invariably we’ll ask questions that you may not have considered – simply because we’ve been doing this for years and experience has taught us what questions to ask.

It’s worth noting, too, that not having an answer is okay. We’ll compile the list of questions whose answers we don’t know and then set about finding the answers. That may involve anything and everything from online research to conversations with members of your target demographic. The conversations are particularly helpful because they elicit longer, more nuanced answers. These help us develop a much more detailed understanding of how your app will be used by your audience.

The answers to the early questions are important for other reasons as well: They enable us to begin to conceptualize how we’ll go about constructing your app. At Distillery, we have more than 100 people dedicated to developing applications, and we can draw on many different skill sets and backgrounds to bring together the right resources for a project. That’s important, for though the application development process may appear to be a highly-structured, right-brain process, great portions of it are more art than science. Experience, though, informs the art, so we’re always listening to understand how we can apply our experience most effectively in the service of building the app you want.

The final portion of the Foundation Phase involves answering the outstanding questions and coming to a full understanding of the app you want built — including how it supports your business goals, how it will meet the user’s expectations, what needs to be in present (and amazing) in the first version of your app, and how you expect to market, evolve, and support the app as adoption expands.

Once we have all those answers, we as designers, developers, and strategists will have a very good idea of how we should prioritize feature and function development to build an app that will thrive in the world that awaits it (and get you to revenue faster). What we do at that point, though, is a discussion for part 2 of this blog series. So, stay tuned for the next installment, where we talk about the Build Phase.