Some people know exactly what they want when it comes to software but most of us don\u2019t. In a previous article, we mentioned that one way to avoid a common pitfall when creating an app was by having a clearly defined scope of work.\r\n\r\nIt might sound fine to walk into an office with a half-baked idea, nobody has it all figured out. However, walking into an office with an idea of an idea is the first step in a wrong direction. Poorly worked ideas will end up wasting time to develop and time is money.\r\n\r\nThe more effort you put into the planning of your idea, the better you will see your product come to life. Nowadays, with the increase in outsourcing and remote work, it is critical to have your idea thought out as best as possible. Don't worry, we'll show you how.\r\n\r\nEven though designers and developers might look like they live on separate planets, they share a fundamental characteristic: function. Both are used to working from a function of a product to its final form. And that is exactly how you should present your next big idea. Put yourself in their position.\r\n"Good ideas are common \u2013 what\u2019s uncommon are people who\u2019ll work hard enough to bring them about." - Ashleigh Brilliant\r\nBelow, are some starting points that can help you shape your idea to start having the conversations that can make your idea a reality.\r\nReally get to know the idea\r\nIf the vision you want to communicate isn't totally clear to you, it's going to be extremely hard to explain it to anyone else. Can you "elevator" pitch it? The best way to clearly define it is to do exactly as an engineer would, break it down into pieces.\r\n\r\n \tWhat is the story you are trying to convey?\r\n \tWho is your target audience/user?\r\n \tWhat are your business goals and your biggest challenges?\r\n \tWho is your competition? (Do you have some?)\r\n \tAny critical dates?\r\n\r\nHaving the answer to these questions in your head is a great start and will help you prepare for your meeting. But don't stop now, how about going a little bit deeper into what you actually want?\r\nDo some research\r\nYou are pitching a complex product and the more knowledge you have about it, the better. How about doing some pre-meeting research? It's impressive how a little bit of research can get some technical stuff out of the way (yes, even without a degree in Computer Science).\r\n\r\n \tWhich platforms do you want your product to be on? Smartphones? Tablets? Computers? All of them? Identifying these in advance will not only help shape what exactly you want but also help developers in understanding where you want to be.\r\n \tWhat operating systems are in scope? Do you want your app to be on iOS or Android? Do you want to make an app for Mac or just for use within a browser?\r\n \tConsidering your users, what will they want to do with your product? Storytelling is a popular technique used to help in this process. For example: As a [someone] I want to [do something] so that I can [get something]. Create a new Excel file and start writing these down. You can see how your idea starts taking shape.\r\n \tWhat features do you see in the competition that you want to include? What are others doing in technological terms? This is what developers and designers call benchmarking.\r\n\r\nMap your idea\r\nOnce you have all of the answers to the questions above, there's still more to do. Ideas and concepts are often confusing. One tool you (and whomever you are speaking to) might find useful are mind maps. Mind maps are used to turn something mental into something visual.\r\n\r\nMost people that work in software development are extremely visual. Start by typing your main idea and work your way from there, using most of the elements answered above so that your idea comes to life in a form of a map.\r\n\r\nSure, you can use a piece of paper or a whiteboard once you are at the meeting, but for the sake of time (and cost), here are some popular (and free!) tools you can use:\r\n\r\n\r\n Mindmapfree.com\r\n \tGoogle Docs\r\n \tDraw.io\u00a0\r\n \tCoggle\r\n \tBubbl\r\n\r\nMake a prototype\r\nIf you have come this far, why not get a little technical before the big meeting? Designers often use something called wireframes and mockups to base themselves, or to start a project. These are basically screens of your idea/product, linked together by arrows, to convey an idea of the product.\r\n\r\nThis will be one of the first steps in designing a product that users really love, and since the developers and designers are going to use it anyway, why not start doing them yourself? It doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to send a message. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.\r\n\r\nTo help you out, here are some tools that you can use:\r\n\r\n \tpen and paper (no excuse here, just start drawing)\r\n \tBalsamiq (free trial and easy to use)\r\n \tSketch (a little bit more technical, but really easy to learn)\r\n \tAdobe XD (another option)\r\n\r\nTake advantage of your benchmark and competitor's product as a starting point.\r\nAdapt to your audience\r\nWhen you are excited about an idea, you usually present it as something big and complex. On the other hand, developers are used to thinking of concepts and products like LEGO. Brick by brick. And if you are putting yourself in their shoes, that is exactly what you should do: break it apart.\r\n\r\nWhen meeting developers, they will start taking apart your idea. So why not take advantage of everything you have done thus far and start doing it yourself?\r\n\r\n \tWhat are the several blocks that compose your product?\r\n \tWhat is the purpose of each block?\r\n \tHow to they interact?\r\n \tWhat blocks are critical for your product to take shape?\r\n\r\nThe mind maps, mockups, and answers from the discovery questions above will help you to build, block by block. Completing the steps outlined above not only make your idea easier to communicate but can potentially save you time, time that can be extremely valuable in the long run.\r\n\r\nDevelopers and designers are used to working with business goals and ideas and making them into a reality. However, the pre-meeting planning depends on how far you are willing to go to have your idea outlined. The effort put into clearly defining your scope of work and refining your idea will help make your vision easier to understand and accelerate the process of development. \r\n\r\nBliss Applications partner with clients to help bring ideas to life. We have a team that can help you map out your idea and turn those rough drafts into a reality. A beautiful one. Contact Us.