How to create an app for iPhone – part 3

Well, I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last posted about our journey in making a consumer mobile app.  An update is definitely overdue, and you can read earlier posts in this series here:

Mobile app development – part 1
How to make an app for iPhone – part 2

 Whale_beach

Last week I took a working holiday about 45 minutes north from Sydney, in the stunning suburb of Whale Beach.  The above was the view from my remote desk, out on the deck overlooking the beach from the North.  It’s a wonderful spot, and I encourage everyone who comes to Sydney to make the effort to check it out.  Those of you in the United Kingdom may recognize it, as it’s the beach immediately south of Palm Beach, where the long running TV show, Home and Away, is still shot.

So, what have we achieved in the last month?

Well, we’ve finished and tested the prototype, and learned some really important lessons from having done so.  The main one of which, we need to keep confidential for now, but the second one we can talk too.

The prototype has highlighted to us an aspect of the experience we need to enable for the users; a feature that was missing that may in itself be crucial to the app’s success (I do promise that after launch we’ll either edit these posts, or explain exactly what these things were in a new post).  The prototype quickly surfaced the feature from Indy and my own testing, and it occurred to  us both almost immediately.

App development process lessons

The prototype process has also highlighted a couple of development process lessons that  have general application.  The first is that if a feature is proving particularly tricky to implement, take a step back and assess whether it’s needed to run the test.  Indy spent a few days to make one aspect of the experience, that we’re now not likely to need – hindsight is 20:20, but after a couple of days, we should have set it to one side to assess everything else.

The second is tied to the first, regular communication is critical on any project.  I know this from my legal days, running corporate M&A deals, where you’d often have daily status meetings to confirm how everything was progressing – indeed, in some cases, these may be as frequent as twice a day.

These practices are just as important to employ in managing a development project, especially where the team is working remotely from one another – say if you’ve engaged a developer or designer on oDesk or Elance.  Such regular communication serves to quickly surface any potential delays, enabling everyone on the project to contribute on potential solutions and alternatives.

Importance of design

The other huge area of progress we’ve made in the past month, is in the design, look and feel of the app – its branding and user interface.  That process is not yet complete, but where we are is a significant advance on the prototype and is, in itself, really exciting – the mock ups are providing us with a clear picture of what the final, finished and polished app will look like.

Be ready to pivot

The final big lesson from the past month, is that you have to be flexible in your product vision.  We’ve already highlighted that a couple of experience features have been altered as a result of the prototype, well we’ve also had a deep think (beach is great for these) about what our unique selling point should be, following a recommendation from Ash.  That idea, has seen us rethink how the server side of the app will be structured, which in turn will affect the working capital requirements of the app – all great things to be tweaking now, rather than after we launch.

So, to sum up, the value of the prototype cannot be overstated – experiencing the idea on our iPhones has seen us make a couple of hopefully key changes to the user experience and interface, as well as stimulating us to find a unique selling point – all of which is invaluable, whatever happens from here.

If you’d like to continue to follow our own journey, then I encourage you to subscribe to the Blog below, as we’ll continue to post regular updates as progress intensifies in the coming weeks.

Away from our side project, the Course itself goes from strength to strength, with our students also enjoying some great success progressing their own ideas.  After a few delays, Amit and Foogi have launched their iOS app into the App Store and were fortunate enough to have it featured by Apple in the Australian store last week.

You could join Foogi in making their app idea a reality by taking advantage of our Free Trial and downloading the first tutorial of the Course today.

Nicholas Wright wrote on

Nicholas is a co-founder and CEO of AppInstruct. Nic is actively involved in the start-up space, mentoring other founders with mobile, fundraising and legal advice. Nic's favorite app is WhatsApp, which allows him to remain in contact with family in America and England.