How to Build a Mobile App Requirements Document

A product requirements document (PRD), fully defines the value and purpose of a mobile app to your product and development teams. This document is the foundation of a successful product, outlining business logic, listing technical specifications, and ultimately helping your development team transform your early concept into a fully functional app.

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Product teams use a PRD to communicate what to build, who the product is for, and how it benefits the end-user. This document guides the development of a product by providing a common understanding of the intent behind a product. If your product and development teams don’t understand your audience and their pain-points, how can they deliver products that solve the right user problems? A PRD clarifies all of your ideas before any development work begins.

While there are different ways to organize the document, we find it beneficial to include business requirements and technical requirements, as well as a few other considerations that will prepare your engineering team to get your product to market.

Business Requirements

Business requirements are criteria that are necessary to meet organizational objectives. Typically, they outline how the product or solution will address the needs of the company and its users.

  • The following considerations to include when mapping out business requirements:
  • What is the purpose of the app or product? What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What is the current problem(s) it will solve?
  • How will it improve the current process? Will it facilitate a new process?
  • What is the product vision statement?
  • Will the app need to be started from scratch, or can you leverage existing assets?
  • What should the app be able to do? What is the product’s core functionality?
  • What features will it need?
  • What is the monetization or business model?
  • Are there branding and design guidelines to follow?
  • Is the ask feasible?

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Mobile App Objective(S)

First, your PRD requires you to describe what you want the product to do, as well as the core objectives of the product. For the first version of any mobile app, it’s recommended to focus on a single problem your target users are experiencing. By concentrating on a core problem, it’s easier to create a concise product vision for the mobile app and establish precise success metrics.

Include User Journeys

In your PRD, you need to include the user flow of your app for each type of user (admin, regular user, and guest users, for example). From start to finish, how will each user group interact with the product?

Creating detailed user journeys is a collaborative process and should include a business analyst, a user experience designer, a developer, and a product manager. Mapping user journeys help communicate all of the possibilities within the app from the user’s perspective. Establishing proper narrative touchpoints is essential to refining the functionality of the product.

What Is Your Product Vision Statement?

A vision statement defines a clear direction towards the end goal of the mobile app. On top of that, a vision statement describes the solution to the problem your intended users are facing. In your vision statement, you need to include who the product is for, what the user is trying to accomplish, how the product will solve the user’s pain points, and how the product is different from competing apps in the market.

Create A List Of Features

The first version of your mobile app needs to offer a simple and intuitive user experience. Choosing features for your mobile app is a planning process that requires you to define the product vision, objectives, and themes fully. Some standard features can include:

  • Sign-up and login
  • Onboarding
  • Splash screen
  • Navigation
  • Image galleries
  • Forms
  • Social media integration
  • Social Feeds
  • Product menus
  • Shopping carts and payments
  • Loyalty cards
  • Booking systems
  • Calendar integrations
  • Push notifications
  • Native video
  • Native maps
  • Device hardware access
  • App analytics

The list above is only a small list of potential features you might require. Understanding how a user will navigate through your app is critical for identifying the necessary features that will allow for a seamless user experience.

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What Is Your Monetization Model?

There are several monetization strategies worth exploring. The strategy you choose will depend on the type of app you’re developing, your target user, and even the mobile operating system you want to utilize. Conventional monetization models include advertising, pay per download, in-app purchases, freemium, and subscriptions.

Product & Technical Specifications

Product and technical specifications outline the systemic and functional needs to meet for the product to achieve the desired features and functionalities.

Determine the following within the product/technical specifications for your mobile app requirements document:

  • What platforms will the app will you use (iOS, Android, or Windows)?
  • What operating system versions should support it?
  • What are your current services, servers, databases?
  • What are your maintenance needs? Do you need to support it for the future?
  • How long should the app function before an overhaul is needed?
  • Do you have current API/services documentation?
  • Do you have current Apple, Google, or other developer accounts/credentials?
  • Do you have existing provisioning profiles?
  • Are there other credentials that are needed or already exist (analytics systems, or platforms)?

Choosing A Platform

The ideal approach to development is to launch on both platforms; however, that’s not always feasible. Sometimes, you will have to develop for one platform first and introduce a second platform later for reasons like time constraints, budget, and resource limitations.

Both iOS and Android offer distinct advantages, but also attract contrasting users. It’s essential to do enough research to understand which OS meets the success criteria of your product goals.