How to write a great mobile app project brief [updated]

How to write a great mobile app project brief

In this multi-part series we talk about how to explore, vet, and develop your great idea for an app. We move from the exciting early phases of brainstorming and ideation, to validating your idea, writing a mobile app project brief, finding the right partner, crafting a strategy, building and testing your app, and then taking your product to market

In this week’s article, we’re covering the subject of writing a brief for your mobile app development project. We’ll touch on the following topics:

  1. What is a mobile app project brief? 
  2. Why do you need a project brief? 
  3. How do you write a project brief?
  4. What should you include in your mobile app project brief?
  5. The 13 items you should include in your mobile app project brief.

So, what is a mobile app project brief?

In a nutshell, a project brief is a short document that outlines your mobile app development project. It’s the best way for you to describe your product idea and get everyone on the same page before the software development process begins. 

Why do you need to create a brief for your mobile app development project?

Let’s say you have a great idea for a mobile app. Congratulations! But what if you don’t have the skills or the team to do the software development? Assuming you don’t have time to go back to school to learn UI design or coding, you’ll need to find a mobile app development company to partner with. 

group working on laptop and tabletHaving a clear project brief will make the process of finding the right mobile app development partner easier. Your project brief helps convey your idea to your prospective development team, helping them understand your project, goals, and specifications. 

Having a well-researched project brief will also help your app development company decide if they’re a good fit for your project. Once you decide to work together, it will also help them generate an accurate project specifications document, outlining the phases of development, the timeline, and all associated costs. 

Overall, creating a strong project brief will help you find the right partner and start your app development project on the right note. Ultimately, this will save you time and money, and increase your chances for success.

So, how do you write a mobile app project brief?

Set aside a few days to do some background research about your mobile app idea. It’s also a good idea to do some competitive research and early vetting, to make sure an exact version of your idea isn’t already on the market. Our article, Validating and Mapping Your App Idea covers this process.

Once you understand the competitive landscape for your app and have thought about your target users and the primary features of your app, you’ll be ready to start creating your mobile app project brief. The second half of this article takes you through the process.

What if you haven’t done any research and don’t have time to create a project brief?

woman looking at mobile phone in cityThis is perfectly common. While doing your own research is always worthwhile, you may prefer to have your mobile app development company guide you. Many software development companies host workshops on this topic or provide consulting services along these lines. If you’re interested in this service, LimeTech can help you out. Just let us know.

What should you include in your mobile app project brief?

Your project brief is not a thesis. It’s a short and sweet document that covers the main ideas, context, and features of your product. 

To help you create your brief, we’ve provided a list of the sections to include in an ideal mobile app project brief. You may choose to only include some sections, but we’ve covered the areas that are important to your development team. Now, let’s get started…

The 13 items you should include in your mobile app project brieftaking notes illustration

1. Introduce yourself and your team

Who’s behind this project? Include the name and relevant contact info for you, your business (if you have one), and any partners involved in the project. 

If there are multiple founders, you’ll want to identify the project lead. You might also include relevant background information for the members of your founding team–such as industry expertise or previous projects led.

2. Your basic pitch

Keep it short and to the point–three or fewer sentences is best. Avoid too many adjectives or jazzy phrases. Your main idea is what counts here. If you haven’t created a pitch yet, you can answer the following questions:

Who is your product for?

What is the problem you’re solving or need you’re addressing?

How will you solve the problem or need? 

In other words, what is the main function of your app?

3. Your unique selling position

Here you’ll answer one of the most important questions of all:

What makes your product better than the competition? 

One sentence is best. Keep in mind that the app landscape is extremely competitive these days, and it takes a lot to stand out. 

4. What market are you serving?

In this section, you should include data about the size of the market you’re trying to reach. If you need to do some investigating, look for relevant market research, industry forums, and market trends. Any statistics you can provide will be helpful.

5. Primary competitors

If you’re planning to build and launch a new mobile app, you need to know your competition. Write a short list of the primary competitors in the sector you’ll be serving. If you’re not sure where to start, try looking in the Apple and Android app stores to find similar apps that are already in use. Check out the reviews to see where the current users are unhappy. This can help you gain insight into the features your target users really want. 

6. Customer personas

happy couple with man on mobile phoneA customer persona is a detailed, semi-fictional, profile of a person who represents your target user. Check out our article on how to do early validation for your app idea to learn more about this topic. You should include 2-3 user personas in this section. Alternatively, provide demographic data about your prospective users.

7. User flows 

User flows are flowcharts that illustrate the path a prototypical user takes as they navigate your product. If you haven’t gotten this far in your project yet, don’t worry. But, if you’ve developed any user flows, do include them. 

8. Desired features

Having a features wish list from the outset will help your mobile app development team organize and prioritize their work. If you have priorities, list your features in order of preference. You might also reference other apps as examples. 

9. Visual design and wireframes

wireframe sketches

Include as many of these elements as you can: logos, graphic design elements, wireframes, UI layouts, brand style guide. If you lack these materials, your development team may be able to help you create them, or refer you to partners with the right expertise.

10. Platforms and technical specifications

Is your app going to be built for users of iOS, Android, or both? The answer to this question will determine the course of your project and the type of ideal team for your project. Note any other technical  preferences, such as coding language, 3rd party integrations, or offline functionality

11. Project goal

If you know your end-goal, include it here. Are you aiming for a basic prototype of your app? A minimum viable product? Or a fully-developed application, released for sale in the app store? A clear end goal will help keep your project properly on track.

12. Budget and timeline

mobile phone and financial papersIf you have budget requirements or a strict timeline, this is the time to share that information. Keep in mind that app development is not a low-budget business. Include any budget restrictions, or hard deadlines, such as your desired product release date. We discuss these and other kinds of design constraints in this article

13. Marketing and monetization 

A fledgling marketing plan and/or monetization strategies for your mobile app will be useful. If you don’t have one yet–don’t worry–your development team can help you explore these topics.

Summary of how to write a great mobile app project brief

A clear mobile app project brief will help keep your project on track, while setting you up for success. Don’t be intimidated by the process of creating a brief; you’ll learn as you go. Take a bit of time to do some research and write your project brief today. It will be well worth your while in the long run. 

Join us next week, here on the LimeTech blog, for our next article in this series. We’ll be talking about how to find the right development partner for your mobile app project. If you’re geared up and ready to start right away, reach out to our team and we’ll be glad to help.

Editor’s note* This article was updated by Addie Kugler-Lunt in 2022.


LimeTech is a creative tech company with a focus on app development. We help brands grow their impact by building digital products that please customers and solve business challenges. Our work includes strategy, design, content, and tech planning. Check out our portfolio or reach out to start a conversation about your project.

mobile app development    mobile applications    product development    project management    startups    

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