How to write a brief for a mobile application

Author Tomislav Smrečki
Category Development
Date Jul 10, 2019
6 min read

Preparing a good mobile application brief can take some time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it.

Companies like ours usually receive a couple of project briefs per day and have to get back to clients with feedback. To get that feedback as quickly as possible, it is important to fill the brief with relevant information. Let’s take a look at what that relevant information really is.

What is the purpose of the app?

Tell us what problem are you trying to solve with your mobile application. This information often gets neglected, but to really come up with the best possible app that suits your needs, we need to know what the purpose of the app will be.

Some apps are promotional and are only used for a short time, others are complex internal tools for enterprise businesses, some need to generate revenue and sometimes the nature of the project will be non-profit or charity. Each purpose requires us to start the project with a different approach, so it’s important to do this part right. With proper understanding of your needs, creating wireframes and designs, as well as app development in general will be much simpler.

But we won’t stop here, let’s see what other information can help us create a better mobile application.

Who are your users?

It’s important that we know who will use the app and who is the end user.

Demographics, the expected number of users, are there any special user roles – all of this can have an effect on the user interface and the development of the app itself. That’s why we consider this aspect a crucial part of the mobile app brief.

What features need to be implemented?

As opposed to the app purpose, here you can dive deeper into specific functionalities of the application and how they could improve your business. That is, if you already defined what specific features are needed to accomplish the application’s purpose.

Our advice is to break down the app into major features, and describe in detail each one of them. When we have the basic understanding of each feature individually, then we start connecting the dots and explaining how those features will work together – provide as much detail as you can.

These things can be very obvious when you’re familiar with the field you’re working in, but it helps us a lot with our research and it can save us some precious time when it comes to planning and production.

Here are some of the questions you can ask in regards to app features:

  1. What features are necessary
  2. What features would be nice to have
  3. Do we need user authentication
  4. Does the app need to work offline
  5. Are there any custom features we need

When it comes to custom features, there are a lot to choose from as almost anything can be created and implemented. Bluetooth connectivity, augmented reality, game development are just a fraction of available features. Take a look at our blog about custom features for mobile apps to learn more about them.

If you decide to take the custom route, we will organize a discovery workshop to get as much details about the app as possible, and then create a plan of what your mobile application should feel like, look like and do.

Are wireframes or the entire design already finished?

Wireframes can be extremely beneficial in case the application has a complicated user flow, as they can help us understand how the app should behave. If you already have an idea on what and how the screens should look like, we would appreciate if you’d share that info with us, as it can be really useful when it comes to the development phase of creating your mobile application. This is also a good starting point from which we will iterate and define the final design.

Also, it’s important for us to know if you already have the final design of the application, made by your in-house designer or someone else. This is important as this can directly affect the overall estimate of the app development – sometimes it may take more time to go through the process of handover and the implementation when we’re working with third party design, as opposed to our own.

What is the user flow?

Another thing that’s equally as important is the user flow. If you have it defined, that’s great, but as trends and good practices within the mobile industry are constantly being upgraded, we can advise you on the optimal user flow for your application.

That being said, sometimes you will want us to implement the flow of your preferences, regardless of the current mobile trends. With everything above described – types of users, features, functionalities, wireframes and design, you have all the tools necessary to wrap it up. The best way to do this is to describe one or more user journeys, starting from the point of installation. Feel free to reference the screens and features from above.

 

Here’s an example of what one user flow could look like:

  1. User installs the app
  2. The first thing he sees is the registration screen
  3. If he chooses the Facebook connect option, the next screen after the authentication is profile setup with pre-filled data from Facebook
  4. After the profile setup, the main screen with product listing is shown
  5. On this screen, the user can directly add products into a shopping cart
  6. When at least one item is added, a preview of a shopping cart is visible on the bottom of the screen
  7. User taps on the bottom preview of the shopping cart to finish the purchase
  8. Payment options are shown to the user
  9. After selecting the payment option of choice, the purchase is finished
  10. User is notified that the order is completed.

How is your app going to be published?

There are a couple of publishing options available, so take some time to think which may suit your needs best.

The most common is publishing on Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. This option will be available for all Android and iPhone users. You will have the option to limit the distribution to certain countries, but that’s basically it. After your application is published there, it’s available publicly.

If your app is an internal app that should be available only to your employees, there are a couple of options available. Android applications can be distributed just by sending the installation file (APK) to your employees. For iOS applications, the best option would be for you to enrol into Apple Developer Enterprise Program. This will allow you to distribute the iOS app internally, only for your employees.

The easier option, but with some limitations, is to distribute the app via Crashlytics Beta platform. Both Android and iOS apps can be distributed, but are limited to 100 users each. If you have a smaller company, this might be ideal for you, but if your company is larger, then you’re better off with some of the other options I mentioned above.

Briefs are not set in stone

As much as we would love that, briefs are a subjects to change. From both sides. We understand if something forces you to change the app specification during the development phase. Also, as much as we try to plan every little detail of the project, sometimes things can appear unexpectedly.

Here, I’d like to point out that Bornfight is not just your development company, we are your partner. If there are any features that don’t feel logical or just right, we will advise you to take a different approach. And this goes both ways.

Good briefs are important for us as a guide to follow, and can really save us a lot of time, but working closely with you and reviewing every step of the development is even more important.

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We’re available for partnerships and open for new projects. If you have an idea you’d like to discuss, share it with our team!

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