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Determining Functionality

This post is supplemental to Unit 103 of the App Building Course.

Let's get to the fun stuff. At this stage, we've already determined crucial details about the problem you're looking to solve, who the app is for and how you plan to stand out from your competition. Now, it's time to determine what functions does your app need to fulfill the concept? Or, more simply, what does your app do?

To answer this question, we need to take some time to consider all - yes, all - of the functions your dream app will have. These range from what you might consider obvious functions like user profiles and a settings unique features that are exclusive to your app. It's important to create an exhaustive list to ensure nothing gets missed. Certain "obvious" functions may seem obvious to you, but are more unique than you'd think! And, vice versa! Many things that seem daunting and unique are actually quite obvious.

Take some time now to jot down all of the functions you intend for your app to have.

Okay, let's starting digging in!

From your list, let's go ahead and identify the Top 5 Major Functions of your app. Let's jump back to our coffee app example from previous lessons. Remember, we're dealing with an app that acts as a frequency program across multiple coffee providers. Here are some possible functions:

  1. User Profiles: Each user will need to create a secure profile with which to tabulate and redeem points.

  2. Map & Listings: Users should be able to view all participating shops in their area on a map or a list.

  3. Location Services: We'll need to have a geo-locator that will allow users to view the participating shops nearest to them and check-in.

  4. Points Tabulation: Users will need to be able to scan their receipt to tabulate points.

  5. Points Redemption: Users will need to be able to redeem points as cash (hint: how do the participating vendors account for this?)

User Types & Multi-Sided Apps

We hope the last question prompted a new line of thinking. Are you building an app that will require multiple user types? This is an incredibly important consideration...and it's best that you tackle this up front! Run through the scenario in your head over and over to determine what types of users you might have, how functions might be different for each, and what platforms they realistically need to be on!

For example, the coffee app will likely require the following user types:

  1. User: the earner of points

  2. Vendor: the giver/taker of points

  3. Admin: the logistical manager of the entire system that signs on vendors and has supervisory capabilities

We could go on further from there, but the purpose of this is really to get you thinking deeply about where your concept is going. Do you see how we've evolved from "coffee shop frequency app" to some real solid functions? These are the directives that help to start to form the beginnings of the Wireframe. And we're really just getting started here. In order to make development a true success, we need to dive deeper into a few further functional questions...

Do we need to hook this app up to another system?

We touched on this briefly in the concept stage (102), but now we need to take a closer look at this. You can already see in the coffee app example the potential for an external system brewing. Do we need to hook this up to a POS system for certain vendors?

Will there be any e-commerce? If so, how do you hope to run this?

This question speaks to the transactional capabilities of the app. This mostly applies to stores, or apps that deal in subscriptions, service exchange, etc. Do you intend to accept payment of any kind? If you do, you'll need to determine a specific payment processor. In most cases, we recommend Stripe. If you've already got a payment processor, speak to one of our experts to find out if it is integrable into an app.

In the case of the coffee app, there is no intention of e-commerce. However, as we will be using the points system on a transactional basis, we do need to take that into consideration!

Will this be a paid app, a freemium app, or completely free?

This is an important question to answer as it relates to your revenue plan for the app. Do you intend for this app to require purchase for download? Or, maybe it's free to download, but there are subscriptions or upsells within the app to open up full capabilities? In our coffee app example, we are looking at a completely free model because we're looking to generate our revenue through the vendors that sign on with us!

It's important to really spend some time mulling over this unit. There's a lot here. At this stage, asking yourself tons of questions, running through every possible scenario is very valuable. It sounds like a lot, but when it comes time to have your Think Tank meeting with our team, we'll help guide you and sort through all of the details!

If you're ready to get started, reach out to us to connect with one of our experts at

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