Create a proof of concept first

Just start making the thing.

Create a proof of concept first
Photo by Balรกzs Kรฉtyi / Unsplash

What's the best way to start an app these days? Say you have an idea for an app - maybe it's a new dog-walking service, or maybe a new kind of children's saving account. You know what it's about and the concept is relatively straightforward. What would you do next?

Some advice that I've been collecting recently has been the opposite to what I've been practicing in recent years. Before having a planning meeting or running a discovery workshop, or even writing a brief, just start making the thing.

It sounds counter-intuitive doesn't it? Instead of working out what you want to achieve, who the team should be and what the plan is, one suggestion is to spend one day to create a proof of concept that encapsulates what you're trying to achieve.

But why create a proof of concept first?

It's easier to show not tell

The number of prototyping tools you can use today has exploded and even some production tools like Framer can help you create a proof of concept relatively easily.

Once you've got your concept, instead of creating a pitch deck or explaining to someone "it's like Uber for XYZ," just hand them the proof of concept and see them respond to it. The insights you'll receive can be incredibly useful.

Close the 'imagination gap'

Ever find yourself describing an idea or concept to someone and they initially don't understand it? It's so much easier for people to see 'the thing' rather than listen to a description of 'the thing.'

It'll inform what you need next

Creating a proof of concept in one day will actually help create a backlog of tasks that need to happen next. Realise you need an email signup to capture an audience? Add that to the backlog. Think it would be cool to have that sync with your CRM? Add that to the backlog.

Having a task list of what you need to do whilst actually starting it can be a much more informed way of creating tasks than writing requirements from scratch.

Fail fast

Investing one day into making a proof of concept, to then show it to people, creates a validation feedback loop. Asking questions such as "what do you think this does" or "can you tell me what you would do next" is a more rapid way of getting to done than talking amongst your team of what your e.g. tone of voice should be, when first starting out.

If I've convinced you to invest 1 day in creating a proof of concept before anything else, how can you best start? Here are some tools to help:

Glide apps

For a niche business to business (b2b) app, Glide performs beautifully, solving business process problems effortlessly, with some great templates. Try it here.

Framer

Framer is a great visual tool for creating simple websites. If you're wanting to create a website to share your idea and attract sign-ups, I can't think of a better tool to use. Try it here.

Bravo studio

The fastest mobile app-development platform for businesses, product managers and content creators. No coding skills necessary. Try it here.