There's no need to give us a call fresh from the shower where you just had an epiphany. Take some time to research whether someone else is already doing it, and whether people will want to use your idea. Thorough user research can spare you many headaches and a lot of wasted development time. It’s helpful to simply talk to people about your idea - most people will tell you if they’re already using something similar. And if they're not, you can also gather some first-hand data on whether people would want to use your solution or not.
In the same vein, know the context for your project. Research the sector if you’re not already very familiar with it. It’s important to have knowledge of not only the people who will use your product, but also what kind of industry they’re working in and the problems that people have in that industry. The app agency provides tech knowledge but sector knowledge is equally important. If you know the type(s) of issues that are common in the sector and what special requirements it has, whether legal or personal, you’re already ahead.
Research the competition. Not to beat them, but to make sure you’re not reinventing the wheel. If comparable apps exist, make sure you know how your app will be different, If you know this from the start, your agency can help you focus on the features that set it apart and save you development time by not going down the wrong road and having to course-correct when you discover a similar feature in competitors apps.
It's great when people have an idea of what they like in other apps. Do you have any apps you use that have specific features you like or dislike? Really pinpoint why you like something or don't. It’s great for your agency to know what you think about specific app features when they’re building your app.
It might end up looking very different from what you had imagined. We often meet clients who have lots of good ideas but are unable to see how software can solve their problem. That’s where we come in. With our tech knowledge, we can often suggest solutions that our clients haven’t thought of. So don’t be too set in your ideas of what it should look like. At every step of the process, the product will change and evolve in ways you might not expect or imagine. Keep an open mind; often, clients end up with something that is literally beyond their imagination, because we know software intimately and can help you find out how to use it.
Find an agency that is a good cultural fit for you. When developers or designers tell you that something would be the best solution for your project, it’s important that you trust their judgement. We genuinely want to help and are invested in your project being successful, but if you don’t feel like you can trust us, the product will suffer. Chat to the people you’ll be working with and decide if you like them and want to trust them with your project - and then follow through by listening and trusting that they know what they’re doing.
Be really involved with the process. We want you to work with use to make your product the best it can be. We believe in co-design, which also requires something from you. We love when clients are involved, give loads of feedback on anything we send to them, share ideas and inputs, and continually do testing and research. We want to collaborate on the project because we believe that the combination of your and our knowledge can create the best possible product. Don't just have off a brief and expect to come back and pick up a finished product. Engage.
You need to stay flexible and know that most things will probably change as you go, even with the best-laid plans. That’s because it’s a continual learning process as we work, get your feedback, course-correct, and continue to work with you. We rarely produce the exact product we talked about in the initial meeting. We produce something better, because we continually improve the original plan.
Don't forget to enjoy the process of seeing your project come to life. A lot of hard work goes into building a digital product so remember to acknowledge all the milestones you're reached along the way. Regular workshops and co-designs will allow you to get closer to your agency, and it will start to feel like they are an extension of your own team. Enjoy getting to know them - it makes the process so much smoother and enjoyable! It's also worth noting that development is ongoing rather than fixed, so it's in your interest to lean into it and become comfortable with the process. Have fun!
Of course, there is a lot more than just following this advice to having a great process and product. But, if you start with these, you can’t go completely wrong. Good luck with building your app! And if you need an experienced agency to work with, get in touch for a wee chat.