From Idea to Conception – The Road of Warriors

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blog-app-ideas

So you have an idea, great!  But at this point, even if your idea is amazing, nothing separates you from the billions of other people out there who also have a GREAT idea.  Ideas sadly are easy to come across, it’s execution where true success becomes attainable.  So how do you go from an idea, either yours or someone else’s, to an actual profitable product.  The answer lies just below.

Step 1 – Create a concrete idea

Why?

It is very common that people who have an idea don’t necessarily have something that they can do anything with.  For example, a persons idea may be: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could share pictures with a whole bunch of people at the same time.”  This is an awesome idea, but with just this line, you’re a far cry from Instagram.  So what needs to be done, is the idea needs to be actually thought out in terms of, what exactly do we want this concept to achieve, and how?

How?

So for example, the idea is: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could share pictures with a whole bunch of people at the same time.” Now try and answer these questions:

Why? – Why is this idea a necessary need?

People love sharing pictures, but they always have to send pictures to friends, or invite them over to watch a slideshow.  Often times, people just don’t have the time to do this, and their friends never get to share in this experience.

How? – How do you hope to satisfy this need?

We will allow the most simple way to post images using an app, and allow friends and family, and potentially anyone else who wants to view these images to view them using the app.

What? – What will you do to satisfy the need?

It will be a social networking application.  Users will be able to post images using their account.  When users like their image, they can in an easy way say that they like the image and leave a comment if they would like.  You can invite friends to view your images, or you can make the images public so that everyone can view them.

Those few lines above are now a concrete idea.

Step 2 – Create your plan of attack

How are you going to take this from an idea to an application/website?  Here is where decide things such as: Will I develop this myself, or will I hire someone else to do so for me?  Will I hire someone overseas, or do I want to work with someone here?  How much do we want to spend on this?  Should we try and get investors, or some sort of funding, or should we try to do this out of pocket? (You should probably go with funding btw)  Should we make this application run on all platforms?  Should we hire different developers for different areas, or should we hire one developer who can do it all?  How much do we WANT to spend on this?

This is when things start to get serious!  Now you’re going from just an idea, to actual work.  Most people will stop by this step if they’re not serious, especially as they start to do research on the cost of development.

Step 3 – Simplify the idea

“It’s easier to do 2 things great, than it is to do 20 things good.”

What does that mean?  Well, put simply, if you try and create a product with 20 premier features, you’re almost bound to have an extremely buggy app, with poor user experience on the first go around.  But if you just have a very small amount of features, you can focus on these, and knock ’em out the park.  So you have to simplify the idea.  Find out what your app’s nitch is, and then try to focus only on that.

For example, back to our Instagram example.  Maybe you want to allow users to post videos, and audio, and make a lot of edits to their images.  And then you want people to be able to save certain images as favorites, and have facial recognition to be able to tell if any of your Instagram friends are in the image, etc, etc, etc.

Now that may sound awesome, but if you try and do all that, you’ll spend a lot of money and time on a product that you don’t even know if it’s going to do well or not.  Save those features for later when your product is very popular, and you can implement them one at a time.  But for now, just focus on posting images, commenting, and liking those images.

Step 4 – Wireframes, Blueprints & Mockups

You’re probably very anxious to start developing this thing as soon as you get a developer.  But you want to hold off on that and get some wireframes and mockups first.  Wireframes basically are the skeleton of the application.  Where will buttons, text boxes, labels, icons, images be placed etc.  Wireframes typically are in greyscale because you still haven’t decided on all you want graphically.  But a wireframe will give you what the overall product layout will be.  After you do the wireframes, you draw out a blueprint.  This blueprint contains everything that has to do with the User Experience.  Explaining what each button does, and how all screens work together.  Here’s a sample of a beautiful blueprint from fueled.com.

Fueled Blueprint

Fueled Blueprint

After you’ve done the Blueprint, you do the mockups.  The mockups are the images of the way different screens will actually look within the application.  By the end of the mockups, basically you know exactly what the app will look like.  Here’s another example from fueled.com.

Elevatr app by Fueled Mockups.

Elevatr app by Fueled Mockups.

Once you have the mockups you’re ready to develop right? Almost, but no.  Now you need to polish the application.  Polishing the application is the final touch that only some designers/developers will do.  Here we perfect the design, and make sure that it contains all the animations, and transitions perfectly as desired.  This is the step that people who truly value their craft will take.  This is the step that will take your app from, ‘ooh’, to ‘aaaaahhhh’, and take you from the path of common men, to the roads of kings.  From a good app of our time, to a product of legend.  Yes, this is the step of all steps!

Honestly though, this is important, because it puts you right above the competition, because most people don’t do this.  Check out this video to see how fueled does it.  http://vimeo.com/60231954

Step 5 – Develop it

Now, develop the application.  You’ve got everything decided, now you simply implement.  Either do this yourself, or get someone else, but you should have already decided that by now.

Step 6 – Test and Make revisions

Great apps have been thoroughly tested.  So make sure that you test as much as possible, and with as many people as possible.  Give it to old people, young people, programmers, artists, fast food workers, bank tellers, CEO’s.  Everyone will use your app, so everyone needs to test it to make sure that it’s good.  Keep making revisions and testing until you have a GREAT product.

Step 7 – Market and Ship

After all that hard work, now comes the time you’ve been waiting for.  Ship that beast!  Push it to whatever stores it needs to go to.  Now notice though, I put market first.  That’s because you should start getting the word out there before the product is shipped.  That’s because you want people to be kind of expecting it, that way you won’t lose momentum once it’s live.  There’s a ton of ways to market your product, look here for some advice.

And viola, you have now taken your product from nothing, to something!

How do you balance it all!

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mom-cat-balancing-act

 

If you do any work for yourself, you’ve definitely asked yourself this question.  How in the world do I balance everything that I need to do?!  This can be one of the most difficult things to do, because if you don’t balance everything out, you’ll either get burned out, or the time needed for the more important things will start to slip away into non existence.  So here’s some tips that I think will help you to learn the trick like my friend the Cat in the Hat here.

1. “The plans of the diligent ones surely head for advantage” – Plan out what you’re going to accomplish every single day, and when you’re going to tackle it.  This will make sure that you handle everything as you’re supposed to, and ensures that nothing slips through the cracks.  Make sure that you also schedule in important things like spending time with friends and family too.  Those are probably the most important things that you don’t want to miss.  Make sure that you write your plan as a list too.

2. Actually stick to the plan – A plan means absolutely nothing if you don’t execute properly.  So make sure that your plan is actually achievable, and then resist the urge to not do something that you had planned out already.  Remember, reasonableness is a mark of wisdom, so again, don’t create a list that you’re not capable of completing, that will make it easier for you to stick to it.  And once your done with one item, check it off of your list.

3.  “Only two things are needed, maybe one…” – Don’t feel like you have to accomplish everything this very minute.  Break tasks up into smaller ones and spread them across a few days if possible.  A lot of times if you do this, you’ll accomplish much more than just frantically trying to complete something at one sitting.  Take your time.  Slow down, and just make sure that you do a good job.

4. Work on one project at a time – What I mean is work on one work project, one family project, one hobby, etc.  Don’t have three work projects and eight hobby projects, you’ll stress yourself out, and you won’t be able to give each tasks the attention it deserves.  If you focus on just doing a good job at a few things, you’ll be much happier in the long run.

5.  “Eat, drink, and see good for all your hard work” – This is my favorite part.  At the end of the day, relax, and just look at all that you accomplished that day.  Look at where you wrote down what you wanted to do that day, and smile at the fact that you finished the list, or at least accomplished some of the things you wanted to.  Grab some food, get a good drink, and enjoy your success.  Then go to sleep, and wake up the next day ready to repeat the process again.

I hope this helps you out some.  Fortunately I’ve had some really good friends and I have been able to receive some very good advice along my path of self-employment.  But I’ve also had to learn many things the hard way.  Hopefully this post will help you not have to go through some of the headaches that I had to experience.

Get More Work Done When Working Remotely

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When beginning to work remotely, your initial reaction is, “THIS IS GREAT!!!”  You get to work when you want, and when you are working, you’re in a comfortable environment, your home.  But there is quickly one problem that you run into.  How do I make sure that I’m productive?  This can be difficult.  For most likely your entire life, you have gone somewhere to work, and people there push you to make sure that you’re doing your job in a timely manner.  Now all of a sudden, that motivation falls upon you.  So how can you make sure that you get more work done when working remotely?  Here are three things that have helped me to be more productive when working remotely.

1) “The plans of the diligent ones surely lead to success.”

Planning ahead is essential to being successful in getting work done.  When you already have in mind a good idea of what you want to accomplish in the day, you will find that you actually do more, because you’re guided by something.  What I do is I use an app called “Simple Daily ToDo List” created by none other than yours truly (sorry for the self-promotion).  But honestly, the reason why I wrote and use this application is so that I can have a very simple way of writing out what I want to do for the day, and then check off what I accomplish as I finish things.  I would actually recommend you getting it, or another app of your choice of course.

It’s a fact that when we write out what we want to accomplish we actually decrease our stress levels because now we don’t have to juggle a lot of things in our minds, and also, once it’s down in writing, you’re more apt to finish it because you have a plan that you can continually refer to which lessens the chances that you deviate from that plan.  Also, it’s very good to be able to see what you accomplished at the end of the day, which is why the app keeps finished tasks there until the next day.  You feel better about yourself when you can look at list of everything that you did.

todolist

Simple Daily ToDo List

Another app that you may want to check out is “Asana”.  Asana is good because you can write out tasks for an entire project.  Asana coupled with Simple Daily ToDo List will make you more productive instantly.  The great thing about this app is it also has a web interface, so you can use web interface on the desktop and it will sync automatically to your phone.

2) “There is benefit in every kind of hard work, But mere talk leads to want”

One of the most difficult things when working remotely is dealing with the fact that your family wants your attention.  The fact of the matter is though, when you’re at home working, it’s the same as working in an office it’s just that you’re at home.  So everyone in the home must understand that when you are working, unless it’s an absolute emergency, you can’t be bothered.  It’s just like when you’re in an office, if someone needs something, or just wants to talk, they have to call you, and they’re probably not going to do that unless it’s absolutely urgent.  So make that known.  Let everyone know that you’re working, and that means you can’t be bothered for trivialities.  This can be tough though (especially if you have kids), so how can you make it a little easier on yourself.

Close the door when you’re working, and tell people that you’re working so please don’t bother you.  You’ll find that this will help you tremendously in getting work done because we all know that when you’re in the groove, the last thing that you want is to be bothered, because once you’re out the groove, it can take a while to get back into it.  Also, one thing that I do is I put on some noise cancellation headphones, and play some music, typically a Pandora station.  This helps you stay relaxed, and it also helps keep out outside noise which will most likely always be there depending on how many people you have in your home.

3) “Better is a handful of rest than a double handful of hard work”

Make sure that you take some time to rest.  I know that sounds obvious, but you have no idea how hard this is.  Generally you want to just beast through a full day, and you realize at the end that you never took a break.  The fact of the matter is you’ll actually accomplish more if you just get up every few hours and do something.  Doesn’t really matter what it is; just give your mind a rest.  This especially is important when you’re stuck at a problem that you can’t solve.  If you walk away for a few minutes and come back, you’ll notice that you feel so much better, and you’ll probably find a solution to that problem you couldn’t solve.  So remember, rest actually helps you to work better.  Don’t overdue this though.  If you rest too much, you’ll get nothing done, but I don’t think I need to tell you that. So there’s a few tips that I hope will help you out.  If you have any other ideas then comment and let the world know what you do.