By fully documenting the functional operation of the app with the flowchart and the user look and feel with the screen sketches, you have completed the minimum requirements for a concept design. This fully realized concept design will allow you to provide a comprehensive app specification for the programmer you hire. The specification, which will include many of the concept design elements, will serve as the blue print and the agreement between the client (you) and the contractor (the outsourced programmer) as to what exactly the programmer will deliver in the end. Obviously, the more detailed and clear the specification (based on the concept design) the better the chances for a positive result from outsourcing the app.
While the definition/description table, the flowchart, and screen sketches could be considered the minimum concept design requirements, depending on the app and the app market you might decide that other information and requirements should be documented as well. This could include, for example, information about using iPhone capabilities like the camera or accessing information from other sources. In this case a black box diagram could display app interfaces as well as document timing or protocol requirements.
One final thought you might find very helpful: at the bottom of the App Description document you started at the beginning of this section, add a section labeled Notes:. Always keep that Word file open when you are working on you concept design flowchart and sketches. Whenever any app detail, idea, approach, requirement or other thought not related or captured by what you are documenting at that moment comes up, quickly type it into this section. It could save time and effort later.
Toward the end of the creating the concept design process take time to review and organize your notes. Some of the information may be moved to the final versions of the flowchart and sketches, or it might be miscellaneous information that should be included in the app specification for the developer, and left in the Notes.
Before we close this section and move on to hiring a programmer, this might be the right place to bring up the design of the app logo, even though it will be discussed in more detail in the Marketing chapter. If you plan to successfully market your app at the Apple App Store, then the app logo is the first thing a prospective buyer sees and the first impression they have of your app. In a competitive field of apps, that can be extremely important. A number of people will make a buying decision based on the appeal of your logo – what it represents and what is communicates.
I don’t recommend putting a lot of effort into designing the perfect logo for your app right now, but it’s a least time to start thinking about it. Designing the logo should be a process, just like developing the app. It should be a careful and deliberate decision. Even if you already have some ideas for the logo, keep an open mind and work through a brainstorming and review process. Listen to other people’s opinions and try to see things from a customer’s perspective. You might even consider getting professional design assistance.
You can find a graphic designer to work with in much same way that you hire a programmer. Since that process is covered in the next chapter, we will not go into much detail, but here are some tips you might find useful…
Review samples of their work – Experienced designers will have a comprehensive portfolio to demonstrate their work. Look for a designer who has experience doing app graphics and can provide examples of work for similar projects.
Hire several graphic designers to create a simple design – Narrow the field down to a few designers, then hire all of them to create some single simple app component like the app logo. It will be fairly inexpensive to have them create a single item. You can then choose the designer whose style and approach you like best.
The bottom line is that if you need high-level graphics and designs as part of the app, then hire someone that can get the job done. Programmers are not graphic designers so don’t leave the job to them.
Like hiring the programmer, the more you can give the designer in terms of documentation like rough sketches, descriptions, layout guides, etc., the more likely the designer will deliver what you want. The designer and programmer can work in parallel to a degree. The programmer can use placeholder or sample images/graphics in early iterations, then incorporate the final graphics later. Of course, you want to be clear that the programmer understands that final graphic version will be provided by a certain project milestone or date.
There is one final step in finalizing the concept design. Take some time and review the Apple document iPhone Human Interface Guidelines: Designing the User Interface. Apple wants iPhone and iPad owners to have a somewhat consistent experience when using their devices, even when using third party apps. Therefore, you will have to comply with certain Apple conventions.
If you hire a developer with plenty of experience developing iPhone apps, then you can usually rely on them to meet these interface criteria. However, it is still a good idea for you to be familiar with them and review your concept design in light of this information and make any needed changes to meet Apple requirements.
Some might argue that the Apple guidelines should be reviewed before starting the concept design, but I think that the guidelines become more meaningful and relevant after creating the concept design. Trying to understand the guidelines before you create the app concept design might be confusing and even intimidating. Once you have a concept design in place, then the requirements will have more meaning or significance, and you can focus on areas of the requirements that are directly related to your app and ignore areas of this lengthy document that are not applicable.
If you follow these Apple guidelines while developing the app, then getting the app listed at the App Store will be much easier when the time comes.
With a comprehensive design in place, it is time to take the next step and find the outsouce iPhone app developer that will make your idea a reality.