No Developer Needed… Yet

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Making your app reality is a lot of work and most of the time requires a developer or a strong knowledge of coding. However, thankfully now it is possible to come a whole end first in developing a prototype with no coding knowledge.

The Dilemma

So you have a great app idea but have no knowledge of coding. The obvious thing to make it happen is to find someone who does, a developer who can turn your idea into reality. However, they don’t come cheap and they are in high demand right now. You also need an investor to finance your developer. However, investors rarely invest in just an idea, they need proof of concept. So how do you solve this? Who comes first an investor or a developer?

Well unless you have deep pockets I would say the investor. Yet, like I said, an investor will not just say “brilliant idea here is a 100k to get you started.” They want to see the idea will work, and to prove this you need some for of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). For a mobile app, this is some form of prototype to test with your customers and bring the concept to life.

Prototype Time

There are many different ways to go around this, different software you can use both paid and free. The following is just one way you can work on developing a viable prototype and out of all the products I tested I found to be the best option for my needs and hopefully yours too.

Invision This

Invision is an online tool that helps you develop prototypes of websites and app with a team. You upload multiple designs and can comment on different parts of decision giving each other feedback. The best part is it is not just an online sharing drive but you can create a virtual tour through your app through hotspots. Using the Invision app on your mobile or tablet you can open your app prototype and show someone not only what the app looks like but also what it is like to navigate through the app itself.

Templates to Designs to Prototypes

So where do the designs come from? While Invision accepts multiple formats of designs it only provides free templates for two: Photoshop and Sketch. They call this product Tethr and it provides a wide variety of templates to give you ideas and use as a basic idea of how to start developing your designs. Whilst I love Illustrator and Photoshop there is a special reason why I choose to teach myself to use Sketch instead.

Sketch It Out

Sketch is an easy to use tool where based on the type of phone, tablet, etc. You can create the appearance of the app. You can install Tethr as a new template within Sketch and by going to Insert then Symbol start using the various designs, buttons, etc. and customize the app to your needs. Now to be honest this is time consuming and at first I felt like being old fashion and sticking to my hand drawn designs but there is a very important benefit of inserting your designs in Sketch that I will explain.

When the Developer Comes In

So you’ve developed your Sketch designs, uploaded them to Invision and created a working prototype through the use of Hotspots. You’ve tested the prototype with customers and improvement upon improvement has been done to optimise the user experience. You convinced an investor of the potential of your product and are ready to start developing the app. Well in comes your new developer who you add to Invision and show the designs to. Now the developer can either start designing everything from scratch at this point or you could go back to Sketch.

Return of the Sketch

Go into Sketch, select one your app interface designs and right. There you can copy CSS attributes. This means that every colour, shape, size and formatting you used can be given to your developer. Of course there is still a lot of coding to be done around this in the form of the HTML for the front-end and all of the back-end. However, it does save a lot of time in the design aspects and ensures that you get a lot more control about the appearance of the app. It also means if you make a lot of changes you can just copy and paste the new specification without having to write out all the new colour codes and sizes for example.

Putting it all together

So Invision and Sketch together can help you easily make a big step into making your app reality and show investors the proof you need to get a step closer to making your app reality. Furthermore, they are a great way to test your apps functionality and see how all those individual parts of your app fit together. Finally, when it is go time you have all the CSS ready to roll for the developer.



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