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How the beginning of mobile app development should look like. Based on 11 years of experience

What could be that complicated with the process of mobile app development? Inevitably, when you’re standing in front of the forest, you don’t see how wide and dense it is.

The same is true for any other competence - it takes time and many projects shipped to gain knowledge that comes from experience. At Untitled Kingdom we have been building apps for 11 years now. We experimented, sometimes failed, learned a lot and repeated.

Are you interested in how we mastered the art of smooth and extremely effective process of mobile app development? Fasten your seat belt and get ready to take off.

Where do we start building mobile apps? From a step backward

You don’t start hiking (let’s stick to a forest-mountains metaphor) from standing at the bottom of the mountain. You need to prepare a trail ahead and a map, collect equipment, boots, fill your backpack with essentials, check the weather and make sure that you’re in good shape to conquer a peak. Only then you can begin a trial.

Let’s make an analogy to the mobile app development process and mark out main five hints about the beginning of app development.

        1. 1. Planning an application should start by thinking about the whole product because the app itself is usually only a part of it. If the idea or value for the user is not enough, the app will also not make up for these imperfections.

[Read more about: Startups are not about tech. They’re about the purpose]

  1. 2. The success of the project it’s above all about fitting the market and user’s needs. Are people looking for a solution like yours? Do you have competition? How will you stand out from it and will this difference attract customers to you?
  2. 3. The success of the application is not affected by the number of its features, but whether the application is useful for users, solves their problems, gives them real value. Often, when the application is not successful, it seems that the creation of new functionalities will certainly change everything. Unfortunately, most often this is self-deception. Ideas should be tested as quickly as possible at the lowest possible cost, creating MVP (minimum viable product). It will verify whether the application arouses interest or not.
  3. 4. When creating a mobile application, often too much focus is placed on the technology itself and whether it is trendy (AI, ML, VR, etc.), and not on its purpose or value, which makes it impossible for the application to be successful in the long run. We must remember to use technology as a tool and not as a goal in itself.
  4. 5. The functions of the application should start with the user's needs and aim at solving their problems as simply and intuitively as possible (user experience).

What are the appropriate conditions to consider these five aspects? In order to maximize the success of the application, for the past six years, we have been running a Discovery Workshop at the beginning of each project.

In our opinion, this is as much important as the solid foundation of a house. Without it, it doesn't matter how durable the walls and roof will be.

What does Discovery Workshop consist of?

Main goal of the workshops

The main purpose of the Discovery Workshop is to validate the idea, business model and goals. Moreover, product and software development experts analyze a market fit, project user experience and mark out a roadmap of development. It’s a foundation of the project and thanks to it you avoid chaos, and the work is consistent and well-planned. No matter at what stage your product or service is, workshops will take it to the next level.

How long the workshops last?

The beginning of the workshop is to get to know people responsible for particular areas and to learn about the product. Then for 2-3 days, we work on the priorities and then and after the workshops we summarize it in the documentation, report or prototype (depends on the scope and need).

Who takes part in the workshops?

At the workshop should take part the most experienced, interdisciplinary experts. At Untitled Kingdom’s workshop team we usually have a project manager, a product owner, a product designer, Head of Technology and two or three people from our partner’s side.

What is the agenda of the workshops?

At Discovery Workshops, the agenda is tailored to each project individually, depending on the needs of the partner or the stage of project advancement, but usually, we go through the following points:

  • idea validation,
  • defining a business model,
  • designing the user experience,
  • setting up technological assets,
  • defining MVP,
  • planning a marketing strategy,
  • forming ideas for gathering users’ feedback.

The topic is really broad and if you’re interested about more specific pinpoints, I recommend you to download our e-book about the workshops (we used to call them kickoff workshops, but the knowledge contained in the ebook is still up to date).

We know what we want from a product and the users. What happens next?

The workshops prove a well-known quotation from Brian Tracy: “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1000 percent Return on Energy!”

After fruitful workshops, most of the strategic and complex work is already done. When a product is developed, we know who it is directed to, what its function is, what it is to give value to users, then real, smooth and efficient work on it begins on:

After this stage and user tests, the launch follows.

Last tips for mobile app development process

It's not about Agile over Waterfall or insisting on Scrum or Kanban - you have to choose what is most appropriate for your project.

At Untitled Kingdom, a mix of different methodologies is tested, adapted to the type of project and the stage of development of these projects. Most often we work on projects in the area of digital health, FemTech, IoT or digital transformation, which, due to their complexity, must have an individual approach.

Such projects make us pay special attention to data security and apply the best practices of the Secure Software Development Life Cycle.

Management 3.0 is important to us, so we have the best-motivated team members, we create interdisciplinary teams based on the specific competencies needed at a given moment, and we have a strong culture based on common values.

Wrapping up

What is our ideal process of creating a mobile application? It is best to start by taking a step backward and making sure that the idea itself has a market and business justification. Without such a foundation it may turn out that we are creating an application for the very idea of creating an application.

At Untitled Kingdom the whole process of mobile app development starts with a strategic approach and Discovery Workshops, after which we have:

  • validated idea and a market fit,
  • defined business model,
  • designed user experience,
  • set up technological assets,
  • defined MVP,
  • planned marketing strategy,
  • formed ideas for gathering users’ feedback,

Furthermore, after the workshop, you perfectly know the team, the shape of our cooperation and communication.

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Want to know more about product development and our formula of Discovery Workshop?

You can also download the ebook that reveals our formula of the workshops.

 
Klaudia Raczek

By

A marketer writing about digital health, FemTech, IoT, startups and technology. Culture geek, addicted to learning new things and self-development. Bad jokes therapists and a French leave enthusiast. A creative mind that no one has ever managed to control. Her copy prescritpion is: "Write drunk, revise sober."