Is your company thinking about developing a mobile offering? Are you hoping to head up the project? Maybe even position yourself as your company’s mobile app expert?
You won’t hear any naysaying from us.
The MindSea team knows apps are incredibly exciting territory – especially when it’s new ground for employees and/or tech startup entrepreneurs alike. It’s probably obvious however that building a successful one requires a range of expertise from many roles.
So from the typical who’s who you might find working on an app: designers, developers, product strategists – and whether you’re shades of a few or none of the above – how do you find your role in a mobile project?
Understand Your Skillset & Focus On Your Strengths
The first step is to take stock of your unique skills and what you can bring to the table on an app project. It’s easy to forget that an app is first and foremost a business tool, not least of all because of the capital and resources required to take one from strategy to MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
An investment this size needs visionary thinking – beyond the software and the device it’s on, to how it will serve and entice audiences in the market, how it will sustain itself monetarily, and of course how you’ll get the word out about your awesome product. From budgeting to resourcing to launching, marketing and long-term planning – there are plenty of opportunities for a savvy tech or business thinker to be of use.
So what value can you bring to an app team?
Can you motivate a core team to innovate as they design and build the product? Think about product management. Do you enjoy imagining all the ways your app might solve problems, and for which audiences? You sound more like a product strategist.
Are you obsessed with the fine details in a user interface, know your way around Photoshop? Congrats, you’re the perfect designer for the task.
The typical makeup of an app team has several key roles:
It goes without saying the buck stops somewhere. The chief decision-maker, investor…whatever – the person who ultimately owns the app idea and execution is key on every team. She or he is the one who not only piloted this train out of the station, but also stoked the fires, laid the track and has the most on the line.
The Product Strategist is often heavily involved in the app envisioning process. As you can probably guess, the strategist is the thinker on the team. She or he spends his or her time correlating user experience opportunities to audience use cases. This person should be able to tell you why an app does what it does, and for who. If you’re a great planner and you can connect the dots from business realities through user insights to interface features, you’re a product strategist in the making.
The Product Manager is the hand-holder and facilitator throughout the lifetime of the product and an organization’s surrogate for the health of the app. This person guards the app plans and the product roadmap. She or her sees what’s happening on all sides at all times and shepherds the team in the right direction.
A product manager knows what the app needs, spends time writing requirements documents or resourcing the next release. They oversee the app from the moment there is a team in place to build it, from documentation, to code and design, to maintenance, support, quality assurance and what’s next. If you can juggle, and balancing personalities, project management, KPIs with an ever-evolving tech landscape is your superpower, this is the role for you.
Lead Developer/CTO (Chief Technical Officer)
No app project is complete without the input of a tech lead. This person is adept at strategic technical planning and/or managing the team’s development tasks. They may also align the team to an overall technical policy including a team’s chosen systems language, guidelines and standards. She or he makes sure all the nuts and bolts not only fit but function as intended. It takes an analytical, logical, Vulcan-like personality to fill this role – if you code and this appeals, this might be you.
Lead UX/UI Designer
Your design lead has to be proficient not just in graphic execution, but also in envisioning how user interface design choices affect and impact the overall experience of using the app. When we talk about app design, this is where the magic happens – where the user journey comes to life not just in a visual way, but also in a sensory and tactile way.
An app can’t just be nice-looking (although that’s table stakes for a successful one!), it also has to ‘feel’ intuitive, seamless and like a natural extension of the platform it operates on. Needless to say, if you’re a designer, this is where you can play.
No matter your role, remember first and foremost that no one person can handle every task when it comes to creating a successful tech product. Look at Apple. Even Steve Jobs had blind spots. He was an amazing visionary, but when it came to the minutiae of detail in executing his ideas, he needed Steve Wozniak for the follow through. Everybody needs their Woz – who’s yours and/or where can you improve?
If you’re strong in one area but lagging in another, don’t be afraid to explore how you might gather, learn or leverage others’ skills. Think about whom on your team might already compliment your skills – or your lack thereof – with their own special sauce.
When you partner up with like minds whose talents fill in the blanks, the resulting team simpatico can be a beautiful thing to watch. And don’t forget the enthusiasm 😉
Are you looking for ways to boost your mobile expertise? I’d love to hear how it’s going. Reach out for more info, or to find out how a great time can mean the difference between success and failure in the app store. Get in touch today.