Wireframe your “IDEA”

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Mockup using Balsamiq

It all begins with an idea in mind, often asked question how do we write specifications or wireframes and why do we need to write one? All one has to do is to share the idea with a custom software development company and the rest will be taken care of, there are plenty of software development companies that will help you to develop your idea. From the ideation stage the software companies will provide development services and handhold you to the completion stage using different development methodologies.

Deciding to develop a web/mobile application the ideation stage is just the beginning. From then it’s a long way to go, to create something that you have in mind to bring your idea to reality needs precise project planning and it all begins with jotting down your idea in black and white. Wireframe helps you to know how the user will interact with the product interface and it also helps you to plan layout of the product interface.

Collate 

a. Describe the idea – Vision and what pain point does it solve. Provide brief but accurate explanation of what you would like to achieve.

  1. What product is it?
  2. What problem does the product solve?
  3. What makes it desirable and special?
  4. Is it feasible to develop the product?

For eg: I would like to build an app for photo sharing and selling. Users can upload photos, share, sell and buy. Also let me share some wireframes that we created here in Xminds for a blood donation mobile app. Wireframes, mockups or hand drawn sketches are the building blocks of any product. These mocks were created using a tool called Balsamiq.

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b. Who are your target customers / users.

c. Platforms and Version – Identify the platforms and versions in which the application should be compatible with.

d. Technologies that should be used to build the application. If its a mobile application then one could use (there could be other ways too)               

  1. Native iOS
  2. Native Android
  3. PhoneGap
  4. Appcelerator Titanium.

e. List out the major milestones

  1. Ideation
  2. Prototype
  3. Development
  4. Testing
  5. Launch

f. Allocate the Budget to build the web/mobile application.

Functional Requirement

  1. User Interface – UI focuses on what users might need to do and making sure that the interface has features that are easy to understand and use.
  2. Finalise on the number of screens you want to have in your application.
  3. Does your app need to be integrated to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc….
  4. Should you app work offline, even if its not connected to the web.
  5. Provide In App purchase option if needed.
  6. Does the app need push Notifications
  7. Are location services needed for the application.

Market Information

  1. Target Group – Need to identify the target market for your app.
  1. Age
  2. Location
  3. Gender
  4. Income level
  5. Education level
  6. Marital/ Family Status
  7. Occupation
  8. Ethnic Background

Once you’ve decided on a target market, be sure to consider these questions:

  • Are there enough people that fit my criteria?
  • Will my target really benefit from my product/service? Will they see a need for it?
  • Do I understand what drives my target to make decisions?
  • Can they afford my product/service?
  • Can I reach them with my message? Are they easily accessible?
  1. Competition – Collect information about competitive or similar products at it would give an hindsight on how the market is and will also help to position the product.
  1. Who are the main competitors?
  2. What are their strengths and weakness?

TEAM

  • Identify the team who will be in charge of the whole software development of the particular application.
  • Will the product be developed in house?
  • Who will take care of the product management
  • The Design team
  • The Software Development team
  • QA team
  • Would you rather outsource software development to another team?

“It’s not the idea that is unique but the way you implement it”

In many ways the dream of every wannabe entrepreneur is the same. They all think that their idea is a million dollar one and will top the list of NASDAQ in a short span of time. But the question is how many really survive in this battle?

Let’s take Orkut for instance. Orkut started a few months before Facebook. Even though Google and Mark Zuckerberg had the same idea, how did Facebook excel in the game? Is it really the survival of the fittest theory or was it Mark’s strategy which made him a millionaire? The answer is, Facebook launched with very basic/core features and was able to promote better user adoption.

I recall the words of my mentor “It’s not the idea that is unique but the way you implement it”.For e.g. you’ve been working out at the gym for quite some time but haven’t been able to get the expected physique. Hmm!!! Now that’s a pain, isn’t it?…maybe you didn’t follow a proper diet plan or might have been cheating on your workouts. Anyways the end result is that you wasted your time, energy and money hoping for something which went wrong.

The fact is, people spend way lot of time and money on their product and the launch without getting proper guidance from experts. I mean, what’s the use of having a Ferrari, if you don’t know how to drive or create an impression? In my opinion following are the points which every startup should keep in mind:

1. Market Research

2. Identify your competitors

3. Who will be the end user?

4. Launch timings

5. What makes you different from your competitors?

6. Proper marketing

Eventually, everyone wants to be inspired by the success stories of entrepreneurs who have overcome the obstacles and built a successful business. Recently, I came across an article by Ben Fox Rubin on the Wall Street journal. He mentions the story of Dan Cheung, founder of Spork, who couldn’t match up with its rival app Foodspotting (acquired by Open Table Inc for $10 million). Now here’s an interesting aftermath by Ben Yoskovitz on his company Standout Jobs. He emphasizes on the value of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Having a feature rich product takes much more time and money to build. However, MVP allows the idea to get into the market as rapidly as possible and maximize the value of finances.

After all every fortune 500 company was once a startup 😉

Xminds Infotech Pvt. Ltd. | www.xminds.com |Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin

An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from Team Xminds…

After listening to Mark Zuckerberg speak at the annual TechCrunch Disrupt, here’s an open letter that I couldn’t resist from writing.  Before we move to the letter, here’s what Mark spoke:

  • There will not be a Facebook phone…at least not in the distant future.
  • HTML5 was indeed a mistake
  • Its mobile apps are going to be bigger and better
  • They’re going to spend time refining Instagram (read our blog on why we think Facebook bought Instagram and yes, it’s going to remain a separate entity from Facebook.

And now moving on to the letter…

Dear Mark,

I love Facebook at lot- personally as well as professionally. I love the fact that I can connect with my friends and family, look for school mates whom I last met 15 years ago, keep my mum updated about her lil’ granddaughter, even as I connect to my customers through my Facebook page.

Speaking about the business page, I’m really happy that I can share videos, post photos and even get customers to buy them even without leaving the page. But there’s a teeny weeny little grievance. You don’t let us business page owners to like anything on Facebook. As a business owner, I’d really like to show my support to fellow business owners by liking their page.  I hope you’re looking into the problem. I’m sure you know that small startups like mine depend on your support to reach out to customers. Wouldn’t it be great if we could send a request to customers asking them to like us?

There was never a doubt that Facebook’s influencing the world’s shaping up, but the Egypt revolution kinda reconfirmed this. But what impressed me most that you decided to keep mum about it rather than brag to the whole world. You sure do understand the implications of talking about it!

And last but not the least, here’s a small request…could you please speed up your response system when we report an error. Your typical response to a ticket seems to be… “Thank you for submitting this bug report…..we are unable to respond to every bug report…..We appreciate your patience and feedback…” Seriously there could be a better response to a ticket. Like for instance, how about sending a ticket number so that we could follow it with you guys? …

I’m sure you get hundreds of such letters every day. It must truly frustrating having to listen to suggestions endlessly. But as I earlier said, businesses like ours depend a lot on Facebook and would love it if you could take care of these minor glitches.

Startup success: Forget the recipe, focus on the ingredients.

Build it and they will come. Ever wondered the truth of that statement? Read on.

You’re sat in a swanky coffeehouse with your mates on Sunday afternoon. Three espressos later and all present reach the conclusion that the idea is going to work. You’ve even worked out the reasons why it will work, just in case the question comes up at the next family gathering on why you quit your corner office corporate job to work in a startup.

The stark reality is that the rate of failure is high. Here’s why: startups can’t exist by themselves. The ecosystem for their success requires other ingredients. It involves mixing that initial idea with mentors who’ve had the experience to ease that painful but necessary learning curve, a healthy financial reserve to weather that incubation period of any idea coming to life as well as the all important ability to test that idea as a product with the target audience.

The importance of testing and getting feedback with a minimum viable product (MVP) has proven vital in successful start-ups. Remember the early days of Dropbox? They moved quickly to launch the minimum viable product with the key features for testing with their target audience. Dropbox certainly built it and people came but they allowed their customers to build it with them and success came knocking. For more information on Dropbox’s minimum viable product days read TechCrunch’s post.

To build your own minimum viable product and success story contact us @ Xminds.

Are you ready to start a new business ?

One of the common mistakes made by entrepreneurs is assuming they have just come up with a unique idea that is going to save the world from a common problem. They get so passionate about the idea that they often forget to validate this with their target audience. This results in them building something that already exists or offering something that doesn’t have a value proposition. And as expected most of those businesses end-up in the cold shelf and the entrepreneurs after burning what little they had will get back to work trying to get over the sour episode of their life.

So If you have just been hit with a great idea and before you get on the surfing board, do a self-assessment by answering the questions below.

1. Why should I spend my hard-earned money on a product without validating it first?
2. Should I build all the fancy features before I launch?
3. What’s my user acquisition strategy? Can social media help me here?
4. How am I going to earn money to pay for my resources? Do I have a good revenue model?

I will touch very briefly on the above and will tell you why they are important.

Why should I spend my hard-earned money without validating my idea?

You have to be passionate about what you are building but at the same time you have ensure that there are others around you who are also having this same problem as you.

So does your solution solve it and how big is your target market?

Once you have answered these questions honestly then go to the validation part.

So how do I validate my business idea?

There are several ways you can do this and I am going to list a few that worked well for us.

  • Talk to your friends and tell them what you are going to build and then be a patient listener.
  • Create a survey with very few questions (5 or less would be my safe bet) and invite your friends and relatives to answer it.
  • Create a facebook advertising campaign and specify the target audience and send them to the survey page.
  • Create a homepage for your product and mention what you are going to build (don’t reveal everything) and put an email box asking visitors to share their email address so that you can notify them when you launch the service.

Collect the feedback and compare them with your own answers. Are you convinced there is a need?

Should I build all the fancy features before I launch?

This is where most of the businesses fail as they wait to put the ‘bells and whistles’ and misses the feedback from early-adopters. A rule of thumb for startups is to enter the market as quickly as possible and then integrate the fancy stuff by doing quick time-boxed iterations.

Imagine where Mark Zuckerberg would have got to if he waited 7 years to launch facebook with all the fancy features it has now.

So the idea is to build a Minimum Viable Product that lets you get to the market rather quickly and then fit yourself before you run out of money.

If I were to build facebook, my MVP user stories would be

  • As a user I should be able to create an account so that I use the service.
  • As a user I should be able to login so that I can see my friends activities.
  • As a user I should be able to post my updates on the wall so that I can share it with my friends.
  • As a user I should be able to invite my friends so that I can build a network.
  • As an administrator I should be able to pull up user reports so that I can do some analytics.

And I could get someone to build this MVP in 8 weeks for less than 8000$. And If my business doesn’t get the expected traction and even if I quit, I loose only a few thousand dollars and can still survive the trauma. So build an MVP to further validate the concept and enter the market before you run out of money.

What’s my user acquisition strategy? Can social media help me?

It’s such a broad question but you should have some answers before you start. If you are planning to rely on facebook and twitter to send traffic to your website, then I suggest you revisit your decision as social media markets are very crowded and you might even go unnoticed.

So what else can you do to bring customers to your website?

Again facebook advertising campaigns can bring users to your website but that alone should not be your primary marketing technique.

I suggest you checkout the presentation ‘From Zero to a Million Users’ by Adam Smith who is the founder of Xobni. He passionately talks about lot of techniques that applies to all the market segments. So be sure to adopt a few of those.

How am I going to earn money to pay for my resources? Do I have a good revenue model?

This is definitely the most significant question that decides the fate of your business. If you have a financial model that largely depends on advertising revenue then your chances of raising investment is 1 in 100. There are a few exceptions like Quora that raised $14 million and valued at $90 million and their revenue model is still a mystery. But don’t be over-joyed; we don’t get to hear too many stories like that every year.

Fundamentally you need to understand your target market and then realign your business model to plan for growth, investment and revenue. This is easier said than done but that’s why you chose to be an entrepreneur.

My advice to startup entrepreneurs – Startups are never cheap or easier to build and don’t trust people who say so because they have never built one. To succeed, you need a good idea, excellent planning, awesome implementation, right timing, perseverance and lot of passion.

7 Important Tips For An Entrepreneur.

1. Goal – As an entrepreneur one needs to have a goal. The goal could be an idea or a product that would be helpful for the internet/web world/ social media C4040-123 user as a whole. Having defined goal would help the entrepreneur reach the destination with a plan, without a strong goal it would be pretty difficult to reach the destination. You need to know where you are going.

2. Desire to reach the goal – Identifying goal is not alone enough, only a burning desire would take you to the goal. The best quote for this would be from Napoleon Hill “Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to cut all sources of retreat. Only by doing so can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a burning desire to win – essential to success.”

3. Plan – The entrepreneur needs to draw a clear plan on how he/she would be going about achieving the goal. Your plans might change during your travel C4040-124 towards the goal but it is imperative to have a plan. If you have one and if you change course or if you deviate from your path the plan would guide you back to the original path.

4. Patience – It is important to know that with patience comes a great result. One should be like a duck, paddling very hard and fast under water but staying calm above.

5. Persistence – An important ingredient in law of success, one needs to keep on moving until success is achieved. Go that extra mile to get things done and do it with all you heart and success will follow.

6. Ethics – Define clear cut values and follow them honestly. Understand that there are no short cuts to success.

7. Enjoy what you do

Should you share your start up idea – YES or NO

One of the many questions that has raised a million eyebrow as to whether an idea should be shared or not across to the world.

While many would be pondering on the question, experts and tech start up enthusiasts suggests that one should not hesitate in expressing the idea.  Create a prototype (Minimum Viable Product) and share it among your closed ones, this would help in knowing whether the idea is good or bad or even whether it is unique.

When an idea is presented before a VC (Venture Capitalist) you would never find them signing any NDA before it is presented to them.

It is important to validate the idea before you go in to actual software development, so one would be thinking how an idea can be validated.

1.Create a prototype

2.Share it among family and friends

3.Get feedback

Once you receive the feedback you would know whether to proceed or not, if you don’t get positive feedbacks you might need to identify or explore new ones. If the feedbacks are positive then:-

1.Passion – Success is about passion, not the unique opportunity. Need to ask a lot of questions yourself and do a plenty of research. All this is possible only with true passion and this is the only thing that would take you across the line.

2.Refining –  Refine the idea and the way to implement it would be based on the initial feedback.

3.Implementation – It is very difficult to copy a great implementation process. Keep in mind the timing of proposing the idea to the world should be appropriate.

4.Get it out there – . In fact, the ideal way would be to get some small (bug free) version out there to get feedback immediately.

Xminds Infotech Pvt. Ltd. | www.xminds.com
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