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Starting development can seem like the big step when an app begins to become reality, but there are several important things to complete before reaching out to developers. These steps can vary slightly between different apps and businesses, but most of the ones included will be applicable to anyone with an app idea they want to turn into a fully functioning app.

  • Here are the things you should have accomplished before reaching out to developers:
  • Know what features you want to have and how you want them to work together
  • Know what you want the app to look like and make sure you can translate this to a developer, even if it is just through rough sketches (1).
  • Get feedback from potential users on what the app will do as well as the design and flow of the app. Use this to guide you design.
  • Figure out what navigating through your app should be like. You should know what is the home page, what other pages you want and how you want to get between pages (icons, buttons, hyperlinks, etc).
  • What platform(s) do you want the app on? (2)
  • What devices do you want your app optimized for? (3)
  • What is your budget for development? (Know what you can afford without getting in over your head and stick to it.)
  • What is your desired timeline for development? How much are you willing or able to budge on this?
  • Know what you need for your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This allows developers to know what to prioritize when developing. Every function you want doesn’t have to be implemented before you can start to test, launch, and start making money. Focus on what is absolutely necessary for your app to function correctly, and recognize what features are desired but not necessary.
  • Look into which developers have made apps that you like in the marketplace. Check out the work of local developers. Create a short list of developers you like the work of. This gives you a starting point for your search for a developer.

Being prepared before reaching out to developers can save both time and money. It will also help you find the best developer for your needs and put you in a better position when negotiating with them. Figuring these out is especially important if you are working with a team, as it will make sure everyone is on the same page and what you tell the developer is consistent across team members. Use these as a starting point for your preparations, and expand on what is most relevant to your app until you are ready to reach out to developers.

  1. Resources:
    Sketch or Adobe XD are programs you can use to design the app’s appearance if you want to design it digitally instead of on paper. Sketch is only available on Macs and Adobe XD is only available if you have an adobe id (free for UM students).
  2. Choosing the Right Platform blog post.
  3. Choosing What Devices to Support blog post.