App Development Brief Checklist

How to write an app development brief

We’ve put together the following aide-memoire for producing an app development project brief.  Not all questions are relevant to all projects but should provide a general framework for all such projects.

By no means does every question need to be answered, but the more questions that are answered, the more accurate a quote can be. If you don’t know the meaning of a question, then we can help with clarifying – but it could well be that it doesn’t apply or is overkill for the app in mind.

Some notes before starting

Apps can be prohibitively expensive to build and scale. Depending on the approach taken, they can require hundreds or thousands of hours of a team of skilled professionals’ time to design, develop, test, finesse, and launch. As a result, it’s important to think about the development of an app as a business, rather than as purely a product that appears on a user’s phone or web browser. Considering resourcing, finance, monetisation, marketing, and scalability is as important as the concept itself.

Unless you have access to private sources of seed funding, it is hard in most cases to find investors to back an app unless it has already been prototyped, can show a strong business plan, has a seasoned leadership team and a route to exit or monetization. But getting this far can be a real challenge:

Many app startups choose to develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to produce the leanest possible version of the app concept which can then be trialled with customers and demonstrated to potential investors. But this is often just the first step in a long process of agile development which could see many iterations, pivots and refinements before seeing a full commercial launch.

Options for non-technical app creators

If you’re lucky enough to have the skills to design and develop an app yourself, then congratulations! Maybe think about joining our team?

For most people, however, learning the broad set of skills needed to produce an app is going to be a big drain on time and means that the window of opportunity to release the product will be more restricted and more competitors may emerge in the interim. There are generally two approaches that non-technical teams can take:

Find a technical co-founder

A technical co-founder is an experienced app developer who will join your fledgling startup in exchange for equity (and often some form of a stipend) and handle product development. In order to win over a technical co-founder, you’re effectively pitching to them for their investment of time and effort into your business, so you need to be sure that your concept is sound, the business model is clear and that there is a route to them making a return on their investment. You’ll also want to appeal to them personally as someone they want to be in business with.

Finding a technical co-founder and convincing them to join you on your mission can be like finding a needle in a haystack, but they do exist. You may be able to find local events where potential startup CTOs are partnered with people with business ideas, or look for startup incubators like Entrepreneurs First which help partner people together and provide seed funding in exchange for equity.

It’s still worth putting an initial app brief together, as a starter for discussion.

Appoint an app development agency

If commissioning an agency to develop an app, project values in the UK generally start in the region of tens of thousands of pounds, and can run in the hundreds of thousands depending on the level of functionality required. It is possible to cut costs by working with teams overseas (Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America all have thriving developer scenes and some great people), although if you’re new to working with developers then cutting down barriers (including location and language) can be vital to feeling like you’re all on the same page.

An agency should be able to give you a fixed price to develop an agreed scope of work for the app, and work to an agreed timeline – which should help reduce the variables in the project. Putting a brief on paper is the best place to start.


Existing app

If the app development brief is to replace an existing app, then consider the following:


If the app needs to be able to publish content, consider how the content will be sourced?



You may be totally in the dark about this section, so don’t worry too much if the terminology is confusing. A good agency should be able to assist with fleshing out this part of a web development brief.



Project Delivery

Legal and Data Protection

Procurement Process

A core part of an app development brief is explaining how you’d like to be responded to. Don’t make it harder for the agency than it needs to be!

Writing an app development brief is hard!

Plenty to think about! Do let us know below if we can help with developing your app development brief (or even being able to quote for it afterward!).

Get in touch

Either contact us using the details below, or fill out this form to send your message. If you’ve got a brief ready then attach that too. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible. +44 (0) 20 3137 5612 86-90 Paul Street,
London EC2A 4NE

We’ll never spam you or share your contact details with any other parties. Any files you share with us will be considered confidential.