This is part three in our series on the process of how we work to develop the best mobile apps in New England. Check out Part One, Discovery, and Part Two, Design. If we’ve done our jobs right by the end of these two phases, everything should be in place as we roll into the next part of the journey: Development. Before we dive in, we want to do a quick audit on all the things that will make the difference between a well-run and efficient Development process, and… a mess. Our goal, of course, is the former. Before coding, the old adage “an ounce of prevention” is our mantra, and it has always served us well before embarking on the next phase. No matter if it’s startup app development or enterprise app development, this careful review remains the same.
The “Pre-Development” checklist
We call this the “Pre-Development Checklist” where we take a step back to look at where we are after both the Discovery and Design phases of our mobile app journey. It’s also a good time to do a deep-dive check in with the client to make sure that both sides are happy and satisfied with the work done thus far. Any small tweaks to design elements can be addressed here, and we can share what we’ve learned along the way in case there are any last-minute ideas or features to add to the app before we begin to truly build.
Ideally, at this stage, we have the UX designed, wireframes created, the visual design laid out, a killer set of well-documented requirements and the basic architecture mapped out. The Pre-Development checklist we want in place helps to make sure that the details are truly detailed, while also looking at all these elements as a whole so that the actual development can move forward.
The elements that should be in place
Let’s take a detailed look at the elements that we’d ideally want at this juncture:
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- the vision and strategy of the project are well articulated and understood so everyone is on the same page going forward
- the UX is completely mapped out with wire frames representing information architecture and the flows through the experience (our tool of choice is InVision)
- the visual design is complete and the assets (ie. images, fonts, video, sounds, etc) are ready for distribution to the developers (our tool of choice is Zeplin)
- the architecture for the mobile, web, and backend components are well defined and addresses things like: redundancy, security, scalability, and response time, as well as any specialized aspects like financial transactions (our tool of choice is Dropbox Paper)
- there are detailed descriptions of requirements that reference the designs captured in an issue tracking system (our tool of choice is Airtable)
- there’s a roadmap for building the product and software in a logical order
- there is a well defined development process with tools to efficiently run the process and communicate (we love the Airtable Dropbox Slack combo)
- the team is clear with well defined roles
- there are strategies and plans in place for beta testing, feedback loops, and marketing. And marketing in particular is ahead of the curve in terms of keyword and content strategies for web and/or app store release
- there is a plan being formulated for post launch operations and customer support
It may feel like we’re kicking all four tires a few dozen times, but if we want to run a smooth development process that hits the ground running, this is the foundation we build upon. It’s much better to spend extra time to plan, rather than to extend Development by a month or weeks due to an unforeseen issue. It happens with small apps for startups all the way to enterprise apps, which is why we treat each app the same no matter size and scale.
And now we’re ready to enter the Development Phase. Stay tuned for our last in our superb app building series where we close with the biggest phase yet!