You’ll need to prepare a creative brief for your mobile app if you want to get designs done. It’s not required, but it will seriously help your designer understand what you want. Clarity will help you avoid disappointing results in the design stage.
A creative brief is a document which talks about everything from your target market all the way to how many screens you need designed. It discusses color preferences, how your app is used, and your app’s overall style. The creative brief helps bridge the gap between you and the designer by explaining your vision for the app.
To accomplish this, you must craft an inspiring story for the designer. Build your story by answering some basic questions about your app. Listed below are my top nine questions and answers to write a smashing creative brief for your mobile app developer.
1) What does your App do?
Think elevator pitch for this. Aim for 2-3 sentences. If you can’t explain to someone what your app does, and why it’s special in two to three sentences, they’ve probably stopped listening already. For my first app my pitch was:
“Phone Tracks help you keep in touch with a small group of friends. It reminds you to call them regularly and to continue building relationships with the people who matter.”
Short. Sweet. Move on with your life.
2) Who is Your Target Audience?
Who will be the primary user of your app? Think demographics: What’s their age, sex, income, etc.
Envision your typical user then describe this person to your designer. This will help your designer use elements that are specific to your demographics. For example, if you are designing a tablet app that teaches kids how to spell, you will want kid-friendly fonts and colors.
To get started, see this excellent article on creating personas.
3) How will your app be used?
The way your app is used will also have an impact on what design elements are appropriate. For example, game apps allow users to interact directly with the content. They are meant to be immerse, so the interface is limited. However, productivity apps are more menu driven, and navigation and buttons are more prominent.
Imagine someone using your app. Where are they? What were they just doing? What are they about to do? What other apps might they be using? Will they be using your app at the bus stop to kill some time? Or during the work day to stay productive? These details will give your designer an understanding about the typical use case for your app.
Another way to help you decide is to look at the Google Play Store categories. It has a total of thirty-two categories (eight Games & twenty-six Applications). Search for apps that are similar to your idea. What category are they in?
4) What Mobile App Styles do You Like?
Up to now, you’ve only given the designer written feedback about what you like. But now you get to show them. Choose three apps that are similar to what you envision for your app, then describe what specifically you like about their design.
Do you like the texture of a certain app? Perhaps you like the ruggedness or fonts used in an app. Maybe you can’t even describe what you like about it, but that’s okay. Copy the link to the app in the Google Play Store, and include it in your creative brief. Your designer will be able to see what you like, even if you can’t explain it.
Check out these websites for inspiration:
Note: When selecting inspirational app designs make sure you pick ones that follow the Android Design Guidelines.
5) Who are your competitors?
Even if your app doesn’t have direct competitors (which it will, eventually), you will have indirect ones that compete with you on a feature to feature basis. If your app falls into the “Shopping” category on Google Play, pick three from that category to show your designer.
Don’t spend too much time looking at your competitors, because you want to stay focused on your own goals. But make sure that your design looks different – aka better.
6) What are 3 Words that would Describe Your App?
What comes to mind when you think of Volvo? For me, it’s safety. That’s because they have great branding. Volvo achieved this being consistent with their marketing.
Try this: What are the three words you want your users to associate with your app? Most people say something like unique, clean, professional. Those are generic, and they are hard to picture. How about these: cozy, powerful, elegant, old-fashioned, charming, humorous, loving, gentle, dynamic?
If you are having trouble, pretend your app is a person. What personality traits would you use to describe them?
7) What Colors Do you Want?
Color are like clothing for your app. They give your screens a sense of style and a personality. A perfect color scheme makes an app complete.
However, choosing colors for your app will limit your designer’s creativity. To allow them more freedom, you can recommend color pallets instead of specific colors. For example, “pastels might go great with this app”, instead of “I like light blue and pink”.
Choosing the right color will bring your app to life, so take time to think about what you want. Take a look at Adobe Kuler for inspiration.
8) How Many Screens Do you Need to Design?
Have you created a wireframe yet? Wireframes are rough sketches of your screens drawn with minimal detail. This allows you to focus on the features of your app before any in-depth designs are used.
Start by going to Smashing Magazine, and use their printable wireframes for mobile apps. Print them out and draw all of your screens on paper. Knowing how many screens are required will help the developer make appropriate cost estimates for your app.
9. What Dimensions do Your Screens Require?
This is part pleasure and part pain for the Android OS. Having multiple screen sizes is great for users, but it’s harder for developers to accommodate. There are plenty of tools and tips like this and this. But it’s easier to let your developer look at those resources, because they look like a foreign language to me. Here’s what you can do: Ask your developer what dimensions and file formats they require then write it down in your creative brief. This way your developer and designer will be on the same page.
Using these questions will make it easier to write a creative brief for your mobile app. They will provide you with the framework to show your designer your vision. Take you answers and paste them into a word document to send to your designer. Or click here to use my Mobile Creative Brief Template.