App Creation #50 – App Design – Planning

The more eager of us are already leaning to reach for the development tools, beginning work almost immediately before a plan has been fully realised.

Resist this temptation and instead address the following…

Know your Audience

Who is your target audience? Apps typically have a purpose and will appeal to a particular set of individuals. Is it a tool for the workplace, a tracking system for your personal statistics or a simple pastime? Maybe it has no purpose whatsoever! In any case, you need to have a firm grasp of your potential audience.

  • Does your app solve a missing function? – Have you identified a feature the device is lacking that people are yearning for and can remedy within an app?
  • Can you improve a feature? – The device may already have a built-in app, yet take it further and increase the user-friendliness and functionality?

Look for existing or similar apps that offer similar ideas. Read through all of the feedback left by the community where the app is available for download and recognise any consistency. For example, repeated negative comments relating to one particular area is obviously something we wish to avoid, so learn from other developer’s mistakes or unsuccessful trials and avoid them. Also of course follow any positive patterns in reference to design, functionality and purpose.

The app world buries failure with brutal efficiency!
Tony Warriner – Revolution Software

By monitoring online communities and app feedback, you can gain not just ideas for your own design, but also inspiration for new developments.?

Overloading

It is easy to get carried away with the planning stages and push far beyond your original premise. Take things slowly and concentrate on the one main advantage your app would offer. Rome wasn’t built in a day! It is a far better idea to get this one very crucial area spot on – rather than packing your creation with additional items of interest.

The risk is that you overload your app with features and your precious time is shifted away from the main benefit. Apps can be updated and no doubt users will request features on a regular basis, so avoid distractions. The additions should only be bolted on when you and your user-base are satisfied with the result so far.

Pencil and Paper

Write down your ideas on a sheet of paper. Lay down the key functions your app needs to fulfil and solutions to how this might be accomplished. There will be various methods of achieving your ideas, so experiment with them all until you identify the one that makes the most sense from various stand points, including ease of use, information presentation and navigation.

Managing Skills

Once you have a rough outline for the project, consider who should be assigned for each area. If you are working alone, you will need a wide range of skills including programming, graphics reproduction, animation, sound creation and so on. Additional talent may be required depending on the complexity of your idea.

Team Work

Working in a team is an effective way of distributing work-load and sharing responsibility. If you can, lessen the burden wherever possible yet stay involved at each step of the process to make sure your idea is panning out as you originally planned. It may be clear as day in your mind, but expressing that to others can be much more complex. Offer diagrams and examples wherever possible.

App Creation Series

There are literally hundreds of thousands of applications and games available to download using the digital marketplace. These range from basic clocks to fully fledged 3D gaming experiences rivalling even the leading portable devices that usually only specialise in this field.

Your challenge is competing with this vast library of already impressive offerings which, although a daunting prospect to the fledgling traveller, can be navigated successfully with the right ideas and implementation. Whether you want to create an income generator or simply desire recognition for your efforts, this book will aim to show you the path and inspire your imagination to overflow with possibilities.

Allow James Woodcock to guide you through the wilderness and raise your chances of realising your development dreams by detailing different routes with this light hearted tour of the Apps terrain. Featuring a myriad of exciting and surprising examples, you can glean important suggestions for your own creation.

App Creation Series Index:
App Creation – Beginners Guide to App Design, Development and Marketing

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Illustrations by Steve Ince
Starting out as an artist at Revolution Software, he moved over to production before settling as a writer-designer. With various titles like the Broken Sword series behind him, Steve turned to Freelance in 2004 and in 2008 earned a Writers’ Guild Award nomination for So Blonde.

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James Woodcock

Freelance Journalist, Author, Blogger & Podcaster specialising in gaming and technology.

Ever since he experienced the first controllable pixel movement on the television screen, he has been entranced by the possibilities and rewarding entertainment value generated from these metal and plastic boxes of delight. Writing hundreds of articles including commentary and reviews on various gaming platforms, while also interviewing well known industry figures for popular online publications.