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Baking the Perfect App

I recently came across an article claiming to have the secret to baking the best chocolate chip cookie EVER. As someone who loves to bake almost as much as I love to eat cookies, I needed to know this secret! So I clicked and began to realize that this article wasn’t providing a solitary magical solution to baking crave-worthy cookies. Instead, it presented modifications to the good old Nestle Tollhouse chocolate cookie recipe in order to achieve the perfect cookie for YOU.

This is when I realized just how similar building the perfect app is to baking the perfect cookie. There’s a lot of preparation and strategy involved and it all depends on who’s going to consume it.

Take a look at just how similar the two processes can be:

Pinpoint what you’re craving.

The “Best Cookie” is actually defined by the person lucky enough to eat it, right? Do you want chewier cookies? Do you need lots of chocolate chips? Do you prefer thin and crunchy or thicker and more and cakey?

When it comes to building an app, you also begin by thinking about needs it must meet and what challenges it should overcome. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. It all depends on what you need it to do for you.

Check out your pantry.

Before you can start baking, you need to take inventory of the ingredients you have to ensure you have everything you need. It would be a waste to go buy all new ingredients when you surely have at least some of them already in your pantry.

When you set off to build an app, it’s smart to take stock of all the technology, content, IT infrastructure and other resources available to you. What hardware, software, materials, etc. can you use for your project? You never know what useful items you might find in your “pantry” if you take some time to run an inventory.

Tweak the recipe to get you what you want.

The cookie article had all kinds of modifications to the standard Nestle Tollhouse recipe that would make your cookies more chewy or gooey, crispier with a soft center, more uniform, thicker and less crispy, or even incorporate a hint of butterscotch. It encouraged customization to get the ideal cookie for your needs. (Yes, I said “needs” because sometimes you just need the right chocolate chip cookie! Am I right?)

The same holds true for apps. There are a million ways to build it so that it is tailor-made for your users. So think ahead about what they need (in addition to cookies) and put together a solid strategy to build it.

Go shopping.

Now that you know exactly what you want to bake, who you’re baking it for and what’s available in your pantry, you can also identify the remaining ingredients you need to buy before you get started.

When building an app, this is the time to shop. Sometimes it’s tempting to invest in exciting new technology before you have a plan for how to use it. But this would be just like buying a bulk package of butter just because you plan to bake cookies. …only to find out by reading that article and planning your baking project that to get the texture you desire, you should really use shortening instead of all that butter. Ugg.

Stop and take a breath before you start.

You’re going for the perfect cookie, right? Isn’t that sweet-smelling perfection worth one more short little breather to ensure your recipe and all the planning you’ve done is rock-solid? Wouldn’t you hate to mess it all up with a problem that could have been avoided?

Are you sure you have all the ingredients? Do you know how long the whole process is going to take so you don’t get called away at an inopportune time? Do you know what modifications you need to make to get your cookies just right?

As you get ready to start putting your app recipe into action, there’s a lot more at stake than a batch of cookies. It’s incredibly important to stop and make sure you think about all the potential roadblocks that could arise and how you will tackle them. There’s a saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It fits the baking metaphor, right? And it certainly applies to developing an app.

Bake. Taste. Repeat.

Once you’re sure you’re ready, it’s time to start combining those ingredients and making those strategic swaps in pursuit of the perfect cookie. Be sure to flip on the oven light so you can watch the sticky dough transform into delicious treats. Then, at just the right moment, pull them out of the oven, let them cool if you can and take that first amazing bite.

It’s no secret that cookies – especially chocolate chip – are by far the best right when they come out of the oven. Even the botched, burned cookies taste good when they’re fresh and warm. But over time, they cool down and begin to reveal their flaws. Did you bake them a little too long? Maybe that was too much flour. Perhaps you shouldn’t have completely swapped the butter for shortening.

So, you try again. And again. Until you get it exactly right for your tastebuds.

Apps tend to go through this process, too. It’s fun to watch the projects come together and the anticipation builds and builds for their big reveal. And when they are first launched, there is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. But it doesn’t take long for that excitement to cool and for opportunities for improvement to arise. And that’s OK!

If you’ve planned properly, you should have a solid app to work with as your foundation. Learn from it, make modifications and continuously improve it. Iteration by iteration until you reach perfection.

There you have it! How to bake the perfect app. If it seems overwhelming, just enjoy a cookie and remind yourself to take it one bite at a time. 

Hungry for more?

If you're getting ready to launch an app project, be sure to read our Pre-flight Checklist for enterprise app creation first.

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