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App Development

Prototyping, User Stories, and Milestones

In this final episode, we review the final items included in the roadmap: your prototype, user stories, and milestones. All this culminates in a fixed-quote for the cost and timeline of your project, as well as the complete report of assets you will need to get funding, additional quotes… or …


In this final episode, we review the final items included in the roadmap: your prototype, user stories, and milestones. All this culminates in a fixed-quote for the cost and timeline of your project, as well as the complete report of assets you will need to get funding, additional quotes… or simply get started!

Full Transcript Below:

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us and welcome back to the fourth and final episode in our little mini series that we’ve been doing on a mock project roadmap for the app Encapsule. If you haven’t seen the first three episodes in this series, I really encourage you to check them out. There’s a ton, a wealth of great information in those episodes for you.

Alexandra:

For today, we’re actually going to take a look at the prototype that we built for this app, as well as talk about user stories, breaking them out into milestones, and then have some final thoughts. And what do you do with your roadmap once you finish that part of the process with us? So let’s check it out.

Alexandra:

Prototyping and just seeing these designs on the phone is just so powerful. Andrew, maybe can you speak to that with like the way that clients can really visualize that prototype and what they can do with it once they have it in their hands.

Andrew:

Yeah. So the prototype is a, it’s still just images, but they’re actually clickable images and you can use them, like Aaron said, you can use them on your phone, which was really cool. So that to me was when it really became exciting and kind of came alive was when I could look at a phone and be like, oh my gosh, like this, and then I can click. Again, it’s not fully functional, otherwise you would have the app, but it’s extremely realistic feeling.

Andrew:

And too, like to your point, it did answer the question of, okay, is this too cluttered? Is this too noisy? Is this a good experience? How many steps did I have to click through? And I really would encourage clients to let us spend some extra time to actually take these high fidelity designs and put them into a prototype. Because, again, just kind of the level of feedback you’re going to get from your users, your stakeholders, is really going to be just kind of next level. So that was like, not that it is a necessary part of roadmapping, but it very much was the icing on the cake.

Alexandra:

Yeah. And I think it’s often very difficult to really cast vision on something that’s intangible. I had in my mind, and I kept saying this as we were walking through the process, what I want is to get to the end and have my palette and my gaps, and I want to have it on my phone so when I’m out shopping and I’m thinking you about buying an item, I can just pull this up and I can make my decision really quickly right there. And so, by the time we kind of got to the end, it was like, it was so easy for me to sort of show that vision to you guys and then it makes it so much easier to cast that vision for investors, for anybody else who would be like, yeah, I totally see the use of this phone. I totally get it, or this phone app, I totally get it. I’m willing to put money behind this. And it’s so hard to communicate that unless you can point and be like, see, it’s solving this problem. Yeah.

Aaron:

Yeah. Yeah. I’ll just add that having the high fidelity designs, having the wire frames and user flow is really helpful for designers and developers who are going to be building this out, but I think adding on that prototype is where it becomes helpful to stakeholders who aren’t going to be developing or doing any part of the app, but just to get a sense of what it will feel like.

Andrew:

Yeah, I feel like the prototype would be super helpful in raising that investor capital.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Andrew:

And trying to kind of build momentum for the idea or build backers, because it does cost to do roadmapping and prototyping, but it’s a lot less than building the software and then you’re taking something extremely tangible and showing them so they can really effectively convey your vision.

Alexandra:

Right.

Andrew:

Rather than just kind of like here’s a slide deck of how people are going to pay for this thing and how they’re going to use it.

Alexandra:

Yeah, absolutely.

Alexandra:

Okay. So then the next phase, because there’s still more that you can do, is building out user stories and then blocking out those user stories into milestones. And this is something you do all day long, every day, Andrew.

Andrew:

The not glamorous part of my job.

Alexandra:

So what are user stories and why are they so powerful in the development process?

Andrew:

Sure. So user stories are a way of documenting a piece of functionality. Who’s going to use them and why they’re going to use them. So, as a member, I will want to do this so that this. And so it’s conveying, who’s doing it, what they’re doing, and then the intention of why they’re doing it. And so, we’ll go through the screens and say, okay, these are the user stories for this screen. These are the different things we expect to be able to do it, or as a Spanish speaking user, I want to be able to select a different Spanish so that I can easily read the website. Different things like that. So user stories are about expressing intent.

Alexandra:

Yeah, absolutely. So we broke out our user stories into four major components that within that there’s several user stories, but it’s log in and account creation. Every app is going to need that so that you can access this information once again, and it doesn’t just disappear. It’s actually tied to you, to your account. Going to be able to create a collection and basically decide on the palette, decide on the patterns, and then make sure that it all looks nice and you like it. And then ultimately getting to that overview screen that this is my end point that I’ve been wanting so bad, that overview screen, where I can see what my palette should be, what my gaps are, what I already have in my wardrobe, what my duplicates are, to facilitate me when I’m out shopping. And then obviously people are always going to want to be able to edit things. So making sure that there’s those basic CRUD type of functionality is built into the app.

Alexandra:

And so, when you say that out loud, it sounds like, well, if the app is just doing four things, like you’re just making a collection and you can edit it. It’s not that much work, right? But we actually put this into phases. Andrew, about how long do you think an app like this would take to build?

Andrew:

An app like this, according to our milestones, would take roughly about 20 weeks to build. It’s a fairly involved app. And to your point, it didn’t seem that involved on the surface, but when we really just fleshed it out through this process, it gave us a much more accurate view of the road that’s ahead of us. Which is super valuable to clients, because they want to have an idea of what they’re getting into before they start spending this money, spending this time.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Andrew:

So yeah, it was super valuable for helping you see the road ahead.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Andrew:

And about how long did it take you to do this whole roadmap?

Aaron:

I think it was in the ballpark of four weeks.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Aaron:

Yeah, from initial conception through prototyping.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Andrew:

Through prototyping? Okay.

Aaron:

Yeah.

Andrew:

So about a month.

Aaron:

Yeah.

Alexandra:

Yeah. I mean, that’s really not bad to end up with all of this information. It’s so valuable.

Andrew:

Right.

Alexandra:

I think one of the things that I encounter a lot when talking with clients with that idea of like, oh, the app just does ABC. It’s not that complex. How can it take 20 weeks? How can it cost me $60,000, $100,000? And a lot of times what I like to sort of help them to envision is when an app seems simple in its interface, that actually means that the burden of work is being done behind the scenes by the code itself, which means there’s more code involved. And you can even take it back to the simplest website that we all visit. It’s a blank, white screen, has the name of the company and one search bar on there. Google. And that has millions and millions of dollars of development that’s going on behind it. And you could say, oh, well it’s just a plain white screen with a search bar, it’s not that complex. But because the burden is behind, don’t look at the man behind the curtain type of thing, it’s behind the curtain. That’s what makes apps so expensive. So the more simple you make your app for the user to use, that means that it’s more complex on the back end. Usually that’s how that really weighs out. And I think that’s really helpful for people to understand.

Andrew:

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. It’s a good analogy.

Aaron:

And not to mention the user experience, refinement process is an iterative thing so we can do it a lot quicker, but you would not have a good product at the end, because your user wouldn’t have a good flow. They would be clunky and we wouldn’t find these things that we found doing this process.

Andrew:

Right. Well, and I think that’s something we try to help clients understand is we’re helping you build the first phase of your journey. But when you’re inevitably going to get, or you should inevitably get user feedback, which is going to spur a second round of changes. So, it’s important that you don’t blow all your budget on this first phase, because there will be phase two, three, four, five most likely.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Andrew:

So we just, again, help them think about the big picture, but also kind of think small and bite off something they can chew in this first round. While at the same time documenting yeah, this is like our grand vision for it.

Alexandra:

Yeah. So at the end of the day, our clients, when they finish project roadmapping with us, they get this, both in digital and print form and you can take your project roadmap along with your… you own the information here, we just provide the service for you. You can take prototype with you and take that. And you can take this to other development firms. You can take this and put it in front of your stockholders. Stockholders, stakeholders. You know, whoever, and you can get other bids based on this information. You don’t have to work with Bixly once you’ve completed the project roadmapping phase.

Aaron:

Yeah.

Andrew:

Yeah. And I mean, how much easier is it going to be to get buy in from your stakeholders and the C-level people in your company when you’ve got something tangible and obviously well thought out and attractive to put in front of them rather than, well, here’s a series of emails where they put together a quote and there’s kind of some bullet points. It’s just-

Alexandra:

Yeah, or a spreadsheet or something.

Andrew:

A spreadsheet. Yeah, exactly. I mean, yes, it did convey the information, but something like this is going to be much easier to take and get buy-in from the people you have to get buy-in at.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Aaron:

And speaking as a developer, to be handed this would be just a golden ticket. Just to fully encapsulate everything I need to know to get running with development.

Andrew:

Clients never bring us something like that.

Aaron:

Yeah.

Andrew:

I don’t think It’s ever happened.

Aaron:

Yeah.

Alexandra:

Yeah. And we’re just, I mean, not tot toot our own horn, but I’m going to toot our own horn. We’re really, really good at this. So if you have an idea, it’s not fully fleshed out yet, come and do project roadmapping with us. It’s obligation free. You don’t have to use our team. You can take it, use in-house developers if you have in-house developers, but we are really, really good at this. So come work with us and let’s flesh this whole out, this idea out together. It’s it extremely, extremely valuable.

Andrew:

Well, something else I’d add too, is it was a surprisingly fun process. Even though it wasn’t, you know, you weren’t a real client and this wasn’t something we were actually planning to build, just the process of trying to understand your vision and get in your head and kind of your imaginary business and your real world objectives. It was just, I think it was fun for you, it was fun for us. And so, I don’t want clients to think, I mean, obviously there’s a fair amount of work, but it’s not a grind. I mean, it’s really the process of bringing your vision to life.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Andrew:

And so, it was very just creative, exciting process.

Alexandra:

It is. It’s like it’s the dreaming process. And so that’s always fun.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Alexandra:

And as curious people, I mean, I can speak to myself, this is one of my favorite things to do with clients, because I love to understand their problems and I love to see if we can find an elegant solution for them. It’s just so exciting to bring that dream to life and see them get excited about what the potential is for it.

Andrew:

Yeah. Yeah, and frankly, if the client’s not excited about it, they probably shouldn’t be doing it.

Alexandra:

Yeah. It costs a lot.

Andrew:

Yeah. So most people that come to us, they are, they have a genuine passion about something. And then we’re helping them bring it to life.

Alexandra:

Yeah. So any final thoughts guys on the and Encapsule project roadmap that we did?

Andrew:

I can’t wait to do the next one.

Alexandra:

I know, it’s so fun.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this series on our sort of mock project roadmap for the app in Encapsule. I hope you got a lot of helpful information about what project roadmapping looks like and maybe you could start to envision what it would look like for you, for your app idea, or for your website needs.

Alexandra:

Don’t forget, you can leave any questions in the comment section down below. We also have our website linked in the description. So check us out at bixly.com. The free tier of project roadmapping, the starter package, is available on our website. There’s a button right at the top. So don’t hesitate to click that Start My Project Roadmap button to see if Bixly might be the right fit for you and for your project.

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