There are a number of steps involved in building your mobile app, starting from the initial planning and taking you through design, development, launch and post-launch support and improvement cycles. In this post we’ll talk about the first step: understanding the scope of the app i.e. what it is, who it services, what it does, and very importantly, the benefits it provides.

The main steps in building your app are:

  1. Scope of the app – Understand what the app is, who it will serve, what it will do, and the benefits it provides (this post)
  2. Creating a wireframe prototype
  3. Designing the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX)
  4. Creating a prioritised development plan including release versions and milestones
  5. Software development cycles
  6. Pilot and final testing/QA cycle
  7. Launch the app
  8. Providing support for your users
  9. Iterate & improve

To fully understand the scope of the app, there are a number of questions we need to answer and quite a bit of information that needs to be gathered. We’ll walk through it in this post.

Value Proposition

We’ve covered this in a previous article. Essentially this describes the overall problem you want to solve for your users, and the benefits using your product/service will provide them. It’s important to know what this is, as it should be the overall guiding beacon for defining the features of your app.


Who will be using your app? In the planning stages you need to learn about and understand your users. What makes them tick? This becomes hugely valuable in planning and designing for who will use the app. It’s also incredibly helpful for marketing your app as you would know how to target possible users in the most compelling ways.

Personas encapsulate your understanding of your customer or user. These could be ‘[name] the [role]’, for example ‘Andrea the Auditor’ or ‘Dave the Dispatcher’. These personas can provide the basis for deciding what problems/jobs are important, drafting user stories for development, as well as other users e.g. in marketing materials.

Problem Scenarios

These go hand-in-hand with the personas. Problem scenarios are fairly general statements of something a persona wants to do. It may not be something specifically referred to as a problem – it may be a job to be done. The purpose of problem scenarios is to discover what matters to your customer in the terms they use to think about their ‘problem’ vs. the terms you use to think about your solution. This is best done in parallel with creating your personas. Problem scenarios essentially become high-level/main feature sets in your app.

User Stories

Once you know who your users are, what problems they’re facing and jobs they want to get done, you can begin crafting user stories. These describe actions they may take using your app, and provide context on what they do and the benefit they derive from it. These stories generally map directly to features to build into the app. User stories can be created using an example structure like this:

As a [persona],
I want to [do something]
so that I can [derive a benefit]

Where to From Here

As you can see, there’s actually quite a lot to think about before you even consider any coding to be done.

Once you have this information in place, the next step would be to create a wireframe prototype where you would start to see how your app might deliver the planned features. You can read more about the wire framing process in our next article.

If you’d like, our team can work through this with you to create the required planning documentation for your app as part of our Discovery Phase.

About Stephen Fourie

I've been a professional software developer since 2004, and running GEM since 2010. I've developed software for many different industries including automotive, logistics, finance and entertainment. I'm the GM at GEM Custom Apps where we build custom web and mobile apps for businesses.I love my wife, my dog, cars and gadgets. And coffee! I'm an Ironman 70.3 finisher, beginner skateboarder, xbox gamer and digital nomad :)