How To Prepare to Work With a Software Design and Development Shop

Kassidy

Jezierski

So, you have an app idea and you’re ready to see it launched in the App Store and Google Play Store? Or maybe your company needs an application to make operational processes easier to accomplish, or possible at all? Whether your application would be for public or private use, if you’re curious to learn how you can prepare to work with a software design and development shop, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in.

 

First off, what is your problem statement?

Most successful applications are solving a problem for the user of the app, or making an existing behavior or process work more smoothly. Remember how AirBnB got started? The founders of AirBnB rented out their San Francisco apartment loft when they noticed a shortage of hotel rooms during a design conference. By publishing their apartment as a place that designers could book for a night or two, they were solving two problems at once – getting cash to pay their rent, and offering conference attendees a place to stay.

Think of your problem statement as your hypothesis which clearly articulates your user’s true pain point. Who experiences the problem? When do they experience it? What is the emotion that is tied into experiencing this problem?

Using AirBnB as a case study, we’ll create two example problem statements:

  1. People who rent or own a home feel discouraged when they aren’t able to make ends meet.
  2. People who need a place to stay feel overwhelmed when the affordable hotels are fully booked.

Once you have your problem statement ironed out, it’s time to find out who your target market is.

 

Who is your target market?

Your target market is the “who” of your problem statement. The more specific you can get in defining your target market, the easier it will be to make your application for them (and market your product to them).

  • Narrow down your target market by creating a couple of user personas to help you pinpoint specifics about your customers.
  • Developing a user persona is important so that you can begin to develop empathy with your target customers and understand their exact needs.
  • Ask yourself the following questions to help you create a user persona:
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their annual income?
  • What is their family life like?
  • How many children do they have?
  • What are their everyday activities?
  • Where do they like to shop?
  • What are their motivations?
  • What are their needs and goals?
  • What are their frustrations or pain points?

Once you have answered these questions, you will have a more clear understanding of who your software product is for. Then, you can seek out those people to validate your application idea.

 

Validate your idea

Does your idea solve an existing problem? If so, who has this problem and do they need your application to solve it? Now is the time to test your problem statement, and contrary to popular belief, it is essential to talk with as many people in your target market as possible about your idea to find out these answers – just avoid asking directly if someone would use your specific product as you are likely to get some false positives. In these conversations (also known as user interviews), it will be useful to ask about when the individual experienced the problem you’re solving, what they did to try and solve the problem, and what worked and didn’t work about the solution. These conversations will help you determine who some competitors might be, if any, and whether the problem needs your app as a solution. If there is already a simple solution to the problem you want to solve, it’s not likely that you will gain a lot of traction with your application.

After conducting user interviews and confirming there is a need for your application, congratulations are in order! Idea validation is a huge step towards ensuring your application will be a successful one.

 

Here are a few more ways to prepare for work with a software design and development shop once you’ve validated your idea.

Consider how you’ll fund the app’s design and development.

Unless you’re working with a company that’s well-established and has a budget set aside specifically for this application, you will probably either pay out of your own pocket, through capital investment or through a crowdfunding campaign. A good software development company should be able to offer you different services depending on what stage your product is in and the budget you have to work with. You may consider having your chosen software design + development shop design a clickable prototype or build a minimal viable product for you if you are looking to gain capital investment or crowdfunding.

 

Determine who your competition is.

Understanding who your competition is will not only help you figure out how to differentiate your product, but it will also help the software design + development company you select get a clearer understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish with your application. Your user interviews and some time searching on Google will help you find out if products similar to your idea exist.

 

Determine and prioritize your feature list.

Before you start with the app’s design and build, it's important to have a clear understanding of the required features to help make your application successful. This is something that you can do on your own, and a software company like us here at Lithios can also help you work through this during a Discovery phase. Whether you have a feature list or not, a software design + development agency should be able to help you narrow down the key features that are required for a minimum viable product.

 

Select your agency.

Your budget, timeline and application requirements may help you narrow down what kind of software design and development agency will be the best fit for you. Ultimately it will be a combination of several different factors, including how comfortable you feel with the companies that you’ve spoken with. Our suggestion would be to contact a few places to schedule an introductory call, and/or contact us to see if we could be a good fit!

Congratulations on taking these steps to prepare for working with a software design and development agency! Building an app is a big move and we’re here to help make that process easier for you. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you might have – we’re happy to help!

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