How to write an app brief

You’ve got this great idea that is going to make you and your company millions: An app that will revolutionise the industry and power your company to the next level.

But now it’s time to convince those around you, and those with the deep pockets, that your idea is as fantastic as you believe. It’s time to write a brief. So to help you out, we’ve put together our tips, tricks and a suggested layout on how to write an app brief, to ensure you tick all the boxes.

What do you hope to achieve from your product? 

To answer this, you will need to think long and hard. This is the most critical part for yourself to clearly understand, as you will not only need to be able to explain what the product is, but what you wish to achieve from the product. Has your app come about due to a problem you have found in your life? Does your app have competition and what can you do different to them that offers more value? What do people want to do differently? You need to be able to see clearly what is a required outcome and communicate this simply as an integral part of how to write an app brief.

Who will download your app?

It seems obvious, but many overlook this. You need to have a clear vision of who your target audience will be as part of your app brief. You will never know exactly who may download your app, but if you have a certain demographic in mind to focus upon, you can start to research how to appeal to them, target them and design for them. For example, we found in our app development of Cropdesk that the design required larger buttons as the target audience were farmers with “farmer’s fingers. Thinking in advance of your target audience will help guide you through the brief and later on in design and development.

What does your app offer its users?

Alongside understanding who your target audience is, you also have to consider what your app actually offers to the people who use it. Does your app fulfil an emotional desire or a functional requirement? Your whole brand identity will be built around this offer so it’s important to consider this extensively. If your app doesn’t actually offer something useful to it’s users, it’s unlikely to do well. Even if the offer is fulfilling their narcissist desires (Snapchat) or helping them get to somewhere in time, and without paying a fortune (Uber). Your app HAS to benefit the users life in some way.

How specific do I need to be in my app brief?

As specific as you can be. It’s likely you will create the persona of your ‘perfect user’ and the ‘ideal end goals’ but in reality, it’s entirely possible that an audience you didn’t even consider has become your main market and your goal subsequently changed.  However in your initial app brief you need to create a ‘personality’ for your brand to help guide you in recognising your brand and avoid being too general. This ‘personality’ can then guide the tone and mood of the brief. Be as accurate as you can in your brief – this will help allow everyone who comes across the brief to truly visual the app the way you do.

Don’t hate the brief!

Many people do not want to sit down and write out an extensive brief. They either want someone else to or to just ‘wing it’. But learning how to write an app brief should not be an annoyance or something you dread: It is your opportunity to really think about the project, the brand, and how it will become a successful business. Dedicate a fair amount of time, do your research (as much as you can!) and give as much detail as possible. Jumping the gun can not only be time costly, but also budget blowing. By spending the time creating a solid brief, you run much less risks of miscommunication in the build of your app, therefore avoiding an delay in your launch and additional costs.

A brief need not be done solo…

Do not think you have to sit at home in the quiet second guessing who your users are. Mobile App Development companies (like us) welcome meetings for people who are considering launching their own app to discuss their ideas. From years of experience, these companies have can offer valuable advice and guidance that you may not have been aware of. This can shape the way on how to write an app brief and can lead looking at your concept in a whole new way.

Make it focused and brief

Likely goes without saying, but ensure your app ideas are as focused as possible and don’t drag the brief out with lots of unnecessary information. Yes, be detailed, but do not include information for informations sake. The idea of the brief is to clearly explain the idea to others without it requiring hours of explanation. If you can explain your idea in a few lines clearly, you are on to a good start.

What about after launch of my app? 

You need to build trust with your new customers. Each marketing campaign, design consideration or UX consideration has been done with your customers in mind. You’ve made your customers trust your brand and your product. But what’s key is the aftercare. Trust can be earned, but shattered in minutes. A good support contract or system is vital to fix any bugs, or larger problems, within a reasonable time frame to ensure you do not harm your brands image. Companies such as Facebook have an incredibly small time frame to fix any problems before they irate their users. Smaller apps often have a slightly bigger time frame before big disruption is caused. Consider your aftercare support when putting together your brief so you aren’t surprised after launch at the work needed ongoing.

Finally, it’s not set in stone…

A brief is a fantastic document that will enable you to share your thoughts to others concisely and clearly: However, you need to keep in mind that this will be used by designers and developers to work from. Their experience and knowledge may mean they develop on from the brief to design a product that is something successful. The more open-minded you are to these developments or changes, the more likely your brand will be to take off. Investing time into understanding how to write an app brief will in-turn encourage your development team to run with your idea and create something incredible.


Key takeaways on how to write an app brief:
  1. General Information
    • Client’s Contact details including name, email, phone number and position.
    • Technical Staff to be involved in the project
    • Any previous app’s
    • Budget and deadline
  2. App Details
    • App outline (why you need this app and what it should do)
    • Devices you want the app to work on (Phone, tablet)
    • Platforms accessibility (iOS, Android etc)
    • A brief explanation of the App Concept
    • Any design specifications required
    • Are there any wireframes that are already built
    • What content and functionality is needed in the app
    • Do you foresee the app to be a one-off build or on-going development?
  3. Target Audience
    • What market are you focusing on?
    • Is there an age range that you anticipate to use the app?
    • Who are your ideal user?
    • What location are you targeting to start?
    • Do you have any research on your target market?
    • Who are your competitors in this market?
  4. Message & Tone
    • What does the app offer it’s users?
    • Is there a main message you want to convey to your audience?
    • What tone do you want to adopt in your app?
    • What is your USP?
    • In what terms do you measure response and success?

We hope that this blog post will help on how to write an app brief effectively. British Software Development is a software development company versed in app development for mobile and tablet, as well as SaaS product development.

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