Get your ball rolling with the precise requirement specifications document!
If you need to build a mobile application you will require the clear specifications of the project. Especially, if you are not familiar with software development and you want someone else to build it for you, technical writing may appear as a challenge. It is important to understand what a requirement specification is? Why it is necessary for mobile app development? How can you develop a mobile app requirement specifications?
Requirement specifications in a form of document gives your developer clear understanding of the mobile app you need to build. Since, it is not enough for you to just discuss the idea over a meeting. It is essential that all the information about your application is made available in the requirement specification document. To avoid waste of time and money in case if a developer comes up with a completely different application than what you needed, all useful information should be present in the document. It is a potential concern of the developers while dealing with the clients and loss of much time and energy on their part as well if something goes wrong.
Clients first prefer to get insight on the cost of the project without providing sufficient or detailed information about the app. However, for estimation of cost, processes, and time required to prepare the mobile application it is necessary for you to provide specification document to the developer. This document will help the developer to have better picture of your required app and thus will help you achieve the better results. It may also guide you to modify or reshape your existing idea into something new. Even if something is missing in the delivered app, it will be less vague than what it were without specification.
In simple words, mobile app requirement specifications document provide the clear and concise requirements of your mobile app to achieve the desired output from the development process so that you and your developer are on the same page. Here are some common approaches for developing a mobile app requirement specifications.
Approaches for Requirement Specifications
• Precise Description of the Idea
To the point description of your mobile app idea can be fitted in just a paragraph. A proper description may include the details of your mobile app’s core features so that it gives a quick insight of what your app is all about. Give clear goals that you expect to achieve from the app and users. It may be increasing your products/ service sales or drive traffic on your web. The problem you have identified and solutions you are providing via this app are mentioned. Thus, identify in a short description what your app does or why it is important; how this will be achieved is described in the development and designing process.
• Users’ Steps in Exploring Your App
• Similar Mobile Apps
You should go through other mobile apps in the App store that are similar to your idea of app. You can recommend an existing app to give a glance of your mobile app along with the description. Reviewing the similar ideas will guide you about the features and how could they best work in your app as well as add them in your specification document with required changes.
• App’s Core Features is the Main Focus
Your app’s core features are those that made the users to download your app, so you should spend most of your time on them. Since, they play a big role in helping the users to get solution for which they need the app in first place. The less important factors such as the color of the button can be specified in later stage.
• Prioritize Your App Features
You should describe the most critical features of the app on priority so that the developers know what to focus on the app first. A great way to mark priority of the features is using the MoSCoW method to give a clear idea of “Must”, “Should”, “Could” and “Won’t” in your mobile app. With the concise explanation of what things are must, the developer can visualize what you want your user to be able to do, what you want to achieve from the app, and what are some less important aspects of the project.
• Existing Product/ Brand
If you are already in the market and have your own brand design, then it is important to share these details with the developers. In this way, developers can understand your app design better and things you are looking for in an app. You can communicate the type of design you expect even if you do not have any initial product design.
• Timeline and Budget
You should be clear about how much you can invest on the project and when you want the app to be available on App Store. Time and budget will help the developer in application of most suitable model and for you to choose the appropriate developer.
Appropriate Format for Requirements Specification
Having acquaintance with the approaches to develop requirement specifications is not enough and you must know the right format to present your specifications. Following three formats can be used for creating the mobile app specifications document:
– Functional Specification Document
It is the most common format integrated to develop the requirement specifications for an application. Describing the specifications in a technical manner includes all the features and functionality in the form of standard list. The series of steps listed in the document describe the required actions and technical implementations for that step. This involves a detailed explanation of the final product that is expected from the development process, so that your developer is on the same page as you. However, in creation of the quality functional specification document you must have good knowledge and experience of software development/ programming. You need a high level of knowledge of the mobile app specs for writing the function document and frame the app from developer’s perspective. If you lack good terminological skills in technical writing then you can reach out for help from a technical writer.
– Non-functional specification documents/ User Stories
A document that gives explanation of the things that users can do in a mobile app from the user’s perspective is called User Stories. These are non-functional documents that allow a developer to think like a user as it is less formal. These documents are exact opposite of the functional specifications and require no specific knowledge of the software development and programing. Technicalities are left for development team to decipher. However, it has a powerful role in understanding what users want from the app. As you know that the overview of technical requirements is not enough and developers should have idea of what is expected from the mobile application. Giving the purpose of the mobile app you explain why and how the users can use the various features. Especially, for the most non-technical businesses this type of non-functional document is very useful and convenient due to its flexibility and simplicity.
The user interface designs are used to visualize the mobile app to have a better understanding of the main features and user experience. The set of sketches or wireframes outlines the mobile app requirements by actualizing the core features. This type of format for requirement specifications is best to discover not only requirements but scope of the project. It shows the users’ flow in the mobile app from the home screen to ends, where the user has achieved the purpose of using the app. Wireframes can be understood as tools that are integrated for enhancing the clarity of the project between the developer and the project manager. When combined with user stories, wireframes gives a better overview of the mobile app. A designer may help you in creating an effective wireframe with thorough knowledge of UI/UX and benefit you in getting a better flow through the app.
Important Features of Requirements Specification Document
There is no general formula for writing the specification document for your app; however, you need to know the most common and reliable ways of creating the document.
* First Introduce Your Idea
You should give a small and precise description of your company and its objectives to help the developer understand your motives, mission and vision. You should provide a brief introduction of the mobile app you want to develop and its need. This section is to give an idea of the app to your developer and you can include the scope, purpose, timeline and budget of the project here. It should give the idea of the detailed explanation and how it is organized in the document. You can conduct a SWOT analysis before creating the document to help you consolidate the app idea.
* Detailed Specification
You should give the overall description of the project here, which may include user characteristics, functions, assumptions, requirements subsets, constraints, dependencies, etc. You can present your screen tabs with visual material, images or presentations available to give a better user experience. Important features like integration with other apps Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc, should be clarified. Other features that need your attention are local storage usage, using app on landscape mode, and external server data exchange. Determine if your app is involved in-app purchase so you have to mention the monetization approach you choose for your mobile app. Also clearly describe the product or service you wish to sale. Mention if you wish to enhance user interaction with push notifications? If yes, then describe the types of notifications and users who will receive them.
* User Description
Having precise knowledge of the target market and users is essential to present your idea. This helps developer to think from the perspective of the particular user, understand user profile, their needs and consider these factors for analyzing the goals, aspirations, patterns and interests of your ideal audience. It is better to give few references of your competitive products/ apps providing similar services/ product for developers to assess them before starting the development process. Based on this information developers can propose better solutions having gauge the potential audience, interface and functionality of the mobile app preferences. It may also include the description of platform you choose for the app. Most dominating operating systems; Android and iOS are suitable; however you can run your app on more than one platforms. The app should be compatible on both tablets and phones or not, as well as describe other factors to identify the user profile you wish to target.
* Additional Info
Before kicking off the development you should provide any additional information, appendices, index, supporting documents, etc.
* Respond to Developer’s Queries and Concern
Communication method you need to interact with your developer should be smooth. The individual from your company who will remain in coordination with the developer should be identified to avoid delays. You can also list down your own concerns and queries regarding the use of technology and overall project.
Having clear understanding of the most common approaches in developing the requirement specifications you can best incorporate these to get the desired output. Formats that are most commonly used to create the document helps you to identify which format is more suitable for you and outlining how to implement it. The main features of the requirements specification document gives you know-how of the process and factors that you need to include in your document. On one hand, setting out the correct specification conveys your vision to the developer. On the other hand, lack of understanding of the above details will not only prolong the app development but may affect your relationship with the developer.
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