What are the Requirements for Developing an App? | 2023

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Before you begin the great work of building an application, you should first clearly define your proposal. Determine the features it will have, the limitations, and the full range of capabilities before development begins. You should also know who will want your app and why. All of this can be outlined in a mobile app requirements document. 

Like any good outline or plan, a requirements document will form the foundation and the clear articulation of the project in all of its detail – the technical and functional requirements of the app.

But also, like any detailed plan, creating a requirements document is no easy feat. It will require you to gather lots of information and research. This will help you to sort out any issues before the project begins, like ensuring your targets are met.    

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What is an App Requirements Document

The app requirements document describes everything related to your app development project. It outlines its purpose, key features, specifics, interactions, target customer, and the proposed steps you will follow. It may also explain an issue that the app will solve.  

This document is also called the software requirements specification because it clearly describes what the app will do, for whom it will do it, and precisely how it will be built. The document will also guide the development team through the launch and marketing processes. This level of clarity is essential for attracting investors and getting stakeholders on board. 

Why This Document is So Important

Here are a few reasons the app requirements document is so important to your project and your company:

  • Clearly Defined Expectations – This is for the benefit of everyone involved. The app will be so plainly and accurately described that everyone involved will know the project’s goal, how they will arrive at the goal, and how the end result will look. 
  • Team Involvement is Defined – Every team member is provided essential information for their role and the expected outcome.
  • More Accurate Time and Cost Projections – It is easy for software engineers to over or under-estimate the amount of time and money your company app will cost. But an app requirements document will necessitate more detailed research and plans, so the expected costs and time projections will be more accurate.
  • Maximize the Budget – Keeping costs under control is a major concern for any app-building project. Your team can help to minimize unnecessary costs in their respective areas when they understand the expectations of the entire project. Their input is necessary for the creation of the document. 

Better Scheduling – One of the most significant drains on resources is scheduling delays. But your app requirements document will set realistic and appropriate deadlines and frameworks in place.

When You May Not Need An Apps Requirements Document

As important as this document is to most app-building projects, there are circumstances when you don’t need one. 

  • If your project is small, taking only one or two weeks of coding – you don’t need a document. 
  • You don’t need a document if your project only requires one developer.

But if any of the following are true of your project, you need an app requirements document:

  • If the development time is more than one month.
  • You will monetize your app.
  • It will take a team to develop the app. 

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What Should Be in Your Requirements Document?

A laptop screen showing computer code for creating an app.

An excellent apps requirements document will include the following:

Goals and Objectives

Here you will answer several questions:

  • What problem or issue does the app address?
  • How will the app solve the problem and bring benefit to the user?
  • What makes this app unique?
  • How will the user use the app?

You can see how answering these questions will provide a framework for building the app. 

App Features: Functional and Non-Functional

No app requirements document would be complete without a clear and detailed description of every feature of your app. These descriptions should include characterization and at least one use case. 

Don’t forget the non-functional requirements of your app—for instance, performance, security, compatibility with other devices, and multi-language support. 

User Personas and Stories

A user persona is a detailed description of your potential user. It is a characterization of the persons you believe will need your app. The user story is an organic, basic story about why and how your app will help them.

This information, along with visual cues and direct customer interviews, is essential for analysis later on by team members.

Technology and Infrastructure Requirements

Outlining the specific technology that will host your app is crucial since requirements vary. Determining the eventual app environment will make the project smoother and avoid issues at the end. 

Additionally, the infrastructure the app will be distributed through is also of importance. App stores differ in their policies and requirements, so you’ll need to accommodate for that during development. 

5 Steps to Building Your App Requirement Document

People collaborating to create an app requirements document.

Here are five basic steps to building your document: 

1 Draft

Your initial draft may be general at first, but you can fill in the gaps as you answer questions about the proposed app. You will discuss the app with those who will be on the team and compile information from your stakeholders, competitor research, and target audience research. Ensure you include your main objectives, features, and key user stories.   

2 Get Stakeholder Approval

Before you take your document to the team, get approval and feedback from your key stakeholders. Their feedback is valuable, so pay attention and take appropriate action.  

3 Get the Design Team Together 

Now, you can share this document with your design team. They need to be in on the project before the software engineers. Remember that it’s a collaborative project, so get their creative input when you share it. 

4 Get the Engineering Team Together

Next, get (and incorporate) feedback from the engineering team on this document. Their input will help you to know if the app is feasible, or the engineers can help you find an alternative. 

5 Share it With the Rest of the Team & Company

Finally, you can take the document to everyone involved in this process. Listen to their feedback and implement as much of what they say as possible. All of this will make your document more well-rounded and complete. 

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Take the time you need for this document. It will make all the difference in how smoothly your project advances. 

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