At the next stage you should start thinking about the technical feasibility of your idea. This means you should start to consider how easy or challenging your app will be to make. If your app idea is very good but it will be hard to make, start thinking about how you can simplify the idea slightly.
Look at the example below:
The Transit app was made by an Apps for Good student team in 2011.
The problem: Bengali students are often expected to translate at parents evening as their parents do not speak English and their teachers do not speak Bengali. Sometimes, students mistranslate what is being said to avoid getting in trouble.
The initial solution: An automatic speech to speech translator. However, research showed that this would be very expensive and unreliable.
The revised solution: Instead of translating the entire conversation, only translating some key topics and phrases. The transit team then created sound files with the most common phrases in both languages. Both teachers and parents are able to select the file they need on a main menu. This method uses simpler technology and is technically feasible.
The example of the Transit app should help you to think about the essential and nonessential features of an app.
Question: What is a Wireframe?
A wireframe is a visual guide that represents the framework of an app. Wireframes help developers to make the final product by following the steps below:
Draw out wireframes for your app
This means you should draw on paper or post it notes what each screen of your app will look like.
Use one post it note or bit of paper for each screen that your app needs to work.
Consider the flow of information, how the user will know to progress from one bit of your app to another.
You can reorder the post it notes if you change your mind about the order.
Organise the wireframes so that they are logically connected. Think about what screen will appear when you click each button on the home page, you can draw lines to connect them.
Designing each screen
Think about how you can make important bits stand out using different shapes and fonts.
Consider how you describe different areas of the app - use consistent language / icons to ensure there is no confusion (e.g. between Home and Menu)
Make sure the app is easy to use and understand
Think about where you want each bit of information to appear
Bringing your idea to life
Once the technical feasibility of your app idea and the wireframes have been produced you can start to think about the best way to create your prototype. From there you can begin planning how you will tackle building the first version of your app.
You have your idea and you’ve chosen your tool so now it’s time to make it a reality. Remember that you are building an early version of your app which will demonstrate to potential users and investors how your app will work.
The following tools can be used to build a prototype:
Rapid prototyping software i.e. Balsamiq or Lucid Chart
Building blocks tool i.e. App Inventor or App Shed
Sharing with users
There’s nothing more annoying than a buggy app, where buttons don’t work as they are supposed to, or where it’s impossible to find the feature you need. Ask your target audience to test the prototype for you.
Record your findings and update your prototype based on their feedback.
A good tip is to not tell them how to use the app - instead, ask them to do things with the app, for instance, “change your username”. Watch closely to see how they use the app - do they make assumptions that you wouldn’t expect, or get confused by one screen in particular?
Remember to share your prototype with as many users as possible. Again, don’t give instructions about how the app works, instead, just watch users interact with app. Take note about any areas where users struggle or get confused. Remember to ask users, does the app succeed in solving the problem that it intends to solve.
Make sure you continually update and amend your app based on the feedback that you receive from users.