Have an app idea? 10 steps to get you started


Just about every day we talk to someone about their idea for a groundbreaking app or company. Heave Design offers a unique app consultation service to help you make sense of what you have – and determine whether it’s worth spending your hard-earned money on. If you have an app idea, follow this guide to help you clarify and solidify exactly what it is, and whether people will want it. Then, if you’d like to talk to us about your idea, just send an email to hello@heavedesign.com.

Step 1: What does it do?

Identify everything you want your app to do, make a list, and then ask your friends, your neighbors, your mom or dad, your mailman – anyone who will listen – whether they would use it, and which features they think are the best. (Take notes, you’ll need them later. Oh, and try not to ask leading questions. Just tell them your app’s purpose and let them respond freely.)

Step 2: The don’t go that way point

If your people in the first step couldn’t identify a single feature that they might use, you may want to skip to Step 6, or keep asking more people. It may be that you are just targeting the wrong audience.

Step 3: Top 3 features

Refer to your notes from Step 1. Did any of the features your friends liked stand out above the rest? Did something seem to rise to the top? If so, you might be on to something. Write down the top 3 features.

Step 4: Trimming the fat

It’s time to trim the fat. There’s no room for tears now, just go ahead and get rid of all of the features that didn’t make it to the top 3. I mean it. Your job now is to figure out what you don’t want the app to do. Later on down the road you’ll understand why this is one of the most beautiful and liberating parts of the process. At this point I’m sure that your wonderful cruise boat of an app is now looking more like a rowboat. You might be asking yourself how you’ll ever join the ranks of garage-made billionaires with that little dinghy, but don’t fret. It’s better to start small and dream big. You’ll need that cruise boat dream to keep your spirits up if things get tough.

Step 5: Revisit your friends

If you are still here, and you’ve followed the steps, you should have a clear picture of what your app should do. Now, I suggest that you go back to all of the people you talked to in step one and tell them what your app will do. Take their comments, suggestions and criticism, and write everything down, again.

Step 6: Do or die

If your app idea is not connecting with anyone, it might be time for your very first do or die conversation. It’s simple: “Is this really something that people need or want, and not just me?” If your answer (after following all the steps) is YES, then proceed to step 7. If the answer is NO, then this is where the buck stops. There’s no room for ego here. You have the chance to save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration. Pull the band-aid off quickly and allow the idea to go back on the shelf with the other cool ideas you have. You never know when having it nearby will be helpful. It’s not dead, just sleeping. Go for a run, hang out with friends, and start the process over again when you feel like the time is right.

Step 7: Hire an app development consultant

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve got guts. You’ve bugged your friends and listened to their responses. You’ve taken an honest look at your product and decided that people need it. Here is where I recommend bringing in a professional app development consultant before you try to deal with developers or designers on your own. An app consultant will usually have a free phone call with you to discuss your project and see if it’s a good fit. If it is, then you’ll hire them for a strategy session. During this session, you’ll hash out some of the finer points of the app and give them the opportunity to make educated suggestions and help you define your minimum viable product (MVP). Interested in having a confidential talk about your app concept? Email us at hello@heavedesign.com and we’ll schedule a call.

Step 8: Building the team

Wow. You made it to 8. You are either very smart, very crazy, or both. You’ve vetted the idea, trimmed it down, and now you are going to need to find people that do the things that you can’t. If you are working with an app consultant, they will be able to recommend some contractors for the job. To build an app you need (at the very least) a designer and a developer to do the work on a contract. Additionally, a project manager is helpful to deal with the day to day tasks, scheduling and progress checks that will be required. Many app founders think they can handle the project management role, only to realize that either a lack of management experience or a lack of technical knowhow end up making the project take much longer than it should. If your app consultant can also be your project manager, then you are in good shape. Hire the right people for the job. Skilled contractors are people who are willing to spend a lot of time doing something that they are good at to provide you with the fulfillment of your dream. Their time is worth something, so make sure you offer to pay them what they are worth. Before you tell them to start working, make sure that you establish specific parameters for how long the project should take, and how much you will be paying each contractor. Put it in writing. Even with a well-managed project, expect for things to take longer than expected.

Step 9: Raising money and paying people

How you pay for the app is entirely up to you. You can get loans from your family or friends, offering them some ownership in exchange, or you can seek out other investors. There are a variety of good resources out there for this, and a good Google search can turn up some solid results. Make wise choices regarding where you get the money from, and don’t tell your contractors to start working until you actually have the money in your account to pay them.

Step 10: Trust the process and the people you’ve hired

You’ve trimmed your app down to a manageable size, found your contractors, and raised the money. Congratulations! Do your best to communicate everything to your team at the start, and don’t let those old features you killed in step 4 creep back in along the way. Trust your project manager, trust your designer, trust your developer. Stick with small. Your MVP is that little rowboat that is going to take you places. If you are lucky, before you know it, you’ll have to upgrade the boat.

Do you have questions about the app-building process? Do you have an idea but don’t know what to do next? Feel free to email us at hello@heavedesign.com.