The Mock Project Roadmap

Welcome to a new mini-series where we share a mock project roadmap with you from beginning to end. This is the first of four episodes, and in this episode, we focus on developing the app idea, refining it, and making sure we’ve identified the essential problem we are trying to solve for the users.

Full Transcript Below:

Alexandra:

Hey, everyone. Thank you for joining us for this episode. It’s actually something a little bit new. We are doing a mock project roadmap with you guys. We have four segments to share where I take on the role of the client talking about my goals, my dreams, the app that I want to build. And I collaborated very closely with Andrew, our COO and project manager, and Aaron, our head of design here at Bixly.

Alexandra:

Now, we got to get into all of the nitty gritty of road mapping this mock project out. We called it Encapsule. It’s a fashion app. And for this first of four parts, we’re going to be talking about the app idea itself, getting started on project roadmapping, and why we picked this one out of the variety of ideas that we had in mind. So, let’s see what we talked about.

Alexandra:

Welcome back to the studio. We’re doing something a little bit different today, and I’m really excited about it because we’ve been working on this mock project roadmap for a while. And now we get to share it with our audience and explain to everybody, why project road mapping is so valuable and why we’ve created it in the first place, using this example. So, it’s really exciting. Andrew, can you explain a little bit about what some of the problems are that we’re trying to solve with project roadmapping in the first place? Why did we come up with it? What were some of the problems that we saw our clients facing over and over again when we were working on projects?

Andrew:

So, some of the problems we were trying to solve was being able to help our clients look ahead and really see who their end users were and identify their pain points and how they’re going to be using this application, to really walk a mile in their shoes. We also wanted a way to get early user feedback. And so, by doing project roadmapping, it’s pretty quick to things down on paper and even to do prototypes. And then when you have those prototypes, you can get those in front of potential users, potential investors, and it really just helps facilitate the whole information and feedback gathering process.

Alexandra:

So, Aaron, from your perspective, doing a ton of design for us, what are some of the gaps that you see people coming in with when they have a project idea? Where we can pump the brakes a little bit and make sure that we’re shoring up those gaps before we even write code.

Aaron:

Yeah, I see the biggest problem is just getting all the stakeholders on the same page, as far as who are our users and solidifying that in everyone’s minds. I see a lot of times that, whether it’s a project manager or a CTO, they’ll have a certain understanding of who their user is and create tasks based on that. But then someone else will have a completely different understanding of who the user is. And so, there can be mismatched expectations. I think one of the benefits to this is it gets everyone on the same page as far as users and what are the goals of the app and that kind of stuff.

Alexandra:

Absolutely.

Andrew:

I mean, a very common thing we see, too, a common problem, is the client being like, “Okay, we’ve talked about some ideas. Let’s get started.” But then, when we actually get the green light to get started, and we start pressing them on, “Okay, how is this going to work?” Then a lot of times they have to go back to the drawing board and get an internal stakeholder buy off, really figure out what they want. Which is really just unfortunate and a false start. Because we have this momentum behind us and we have to pause and rewind. What we found, by introducing this road mapping phase at the beginning, it’s really nice because it gets everybody to pump the brakes for a second and really just think through, not every single detail, but enough to have a clear direction and guiding light.

Alexandra:

So, then, what are some of the benefits of project road mapping? Having solved these problems we’ve seen, how does project road mapping, obviously we can have a clear vision and blah, blah, blah, but are there tangible benefits that we can describe to potential clients?

Andrew:

Well, I mean, there’s cost saving benefits. It’s much cheaper and faster to change things on paper, whether it be just wire frames or even high fidelity designs. We can get those down on paper and get them adjusted quite quickly. Doing that in code is just more expensive because it takes more time. So, there’s definitely a cost savings factor to it.

Alexandra:

Aaron, I think you actually had a really great quote from our recent UI/UX video, where you said, “Would you rather find out that you’re off base with your users after you’ve spent $100,000 or before?” And that’s such a great, clear way of putting this is what project roadmapping does for you.

Aaron:

Yeah.

Andrew:

Yeah. And we really encourage people, not necessarily to think big, but to think small first.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Andrew:

What’s, again, the minimum viable product? What’s this thing that you can put out there and with road mapping, we’re really helping them focus on that, while at the same time, looking ahead them and sharing their vision of, “This is where I want to take this thing.” But not getting too ahead of ourselves to the point where we’re trying to eat the entire elephant too quickly.

Alexandra:

Yeah. And I think a third component, and this is getting philosophical about project road mapping, which-

Andrew:

I like it.

Alexandra:

Maybe isn’t necessary for this video, but it helps, I think, people who are very creative and who have this entrepreneurial spirit dismantle their preconceived assumptions. We all come to the table, and even I caught myself doing it, even knowing it, even doing project road mapping here a lot with other clients, of coming in with these preconceived notions of before we’ve even defined the problem, what’s the app going to look like? Is it even going to be a mobile app? Should it be a Chrome extension? Should it be a desktop app? Should it be a kiosk? They’re deciding the form factor before we’ve even identified the real problem. It’s really putting the cart before the horse.

Aaron:

Yeah.

Andrew:

Yeah. I mean, we really saw that. And so, in this case, obviously, you were the mock client, then the stakeholder. But as you were going about, like you said, saying, “It should look like this. It should do this. Should have this button.” I saw Aaron and I looking at each other being like, “Okay, but why?” Like, “We don’t want to shoot your dream down and I’m sure you have a vision for it, but it doesn’t really make sense.”

Andrew:

And so, by having that constructive criticism, I would say coming back and people questioning you, I think we really made something that was much more intuitive. And still achieved your vision as the client.

Alexandra:

Absolutely. Okay. Well, let’s jump in and actually talk about this particular project, Encapsule. So, I’ll just start by spitballing my idea behind it. I think we all have those moments where we’re like, “Ah, I wish I had that app to solve this particular problem.” And I have them about 15 times a day, so I have 50 app ideas in my head.

Andrew:

If only you could just think of the app and it would appear.

Alexandra:

I know, and it wouldn’t cost $100,000 that I don’t have. But I really enjoy making a capsule wardrobe, which I think a lot of women do. Or there’s a segment of the population that buys into this idea of having a capsule wardrobe, which is simply having fewer items of clothes that are all coordinated, that fit you well, and that are of a higher quality, so that they’ll last you long or in your closet. And then it’s very easy to create outfits in the morning. You’re not feeling overwhelmed when you look in your closet and that sort of thing.

Alexandra:

But actually, it takes the burden off of figuring out what you want to wear in the morning, but it’s actually kind of hard to build a capsule wardrobe, I’ve found, over the years. Because it’s so easy to be at Target or H&M or whatever, and be like, “Oh, that’s cute.” The marketing works. And then you have this one sweater that doesn’t go with everything else. And you’re like, “I can only wear it with that one pair of pants, but it’s in the laundry.” And then it creates the problem all over again. So, that’s the problem that, for me, my frustration, I was trying to solve with this app.

Andrew:

It removes decision making, but also was a very kind of minimalist mentality as well.

Alexandra:

Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Andrew:

You’re not having the big closet full of a bazillion choices. That’s not a capsule wardrobe. Okay.

Alexandra:

Yeah, exactly.

Andrew:

That was news to, I think probably Aaron and I both.

Aaron:

Yeah.

Alexandra:

Yeah. So, that was part of our ideation phase, and we all came with ideas to the table. So, what were some of the deciding factors for picking this Encapsule project versus some of the other ones that we brought to the table?

Aaron:

One of the things that made me lean more towards this over others that we came up with was that it seemed to be solving a real world problem that was easy to describe. And so, it made the decision making process much more streamlined because it was very clear what the problem was.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Aaron:

I think that was a big benefit.

Andrew:

Yeah, and it really, from our standpoint, just touched on a bunch of different UI elements that, I think this is going to be useful to our customers because it has so many common UI elements of picking products, of the whole input forms, touch dialogues, check boxes, all those different things. So, we really wanted something that we could take to our clients and say, “Hey, obviously, you’re probably not making a capsule wardrobe application, but these are the parts of the application that relate to you.” I think there’s something in here that probably relates to everybody.

Alexandra:

Yeah. And I think even though we’re not actually making this app, or at least not at this time, we were still even thinking about marketing and the viability of the app. That it would actually be not only useful, but there was an opportunity for advertising to be built into the app and monetization within the app, and that sort of thing, which means that it’s a real project that really could do something. And that always has to be part of the conversation, even when we’re talking with our clients, is well, how are you going to make money? Because it’s expensive.

Andrew:

Yeah. It’s an investment.

Alexandra:

Yeah. Or, if it’s an internal app, how are you going to save money? Because it has to be worth on one of those two ends of the spectrum, to make it a good business decision.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this first episode in our project road mapping mock mini series. I hope you enjoyed learning about the app that we decided on and some of the ideas that went into why we chose that app to work with. For the next episode, we’re actually going to be focusing on marketing research, understanding how this user base fits in, in the grander scheme of things, and really defining that out. It’s a really, really important step in your project roadmapping phase. So, don’t miss that episode.

Originally published at https://blog.bixly.com on December 23, 2021.

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Bixly Inc.

Bixly Inc.

Python/JS developers ready to work with you! California-based software development.

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