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Handy App Building Tips: Creating Durham International Festival of Enterprise App

I am thrilled to be a part of the Durham International festival of Enterprise in Durham from 27 February – 1 March 1st at the Town Hall and Gala theatre in Durham city centre. We are going to have some of the biggest names in the north east speak and deliver workshops about their business, idea generation and yes, financial funding.

A key component of the event, will be the Durham International Festival of Enterprise app, titled DIFE for short. The app’s main goals will be to foster attendee networking and event communication during the event. The app allows attendees to create short bios, make connections, and extend their profiles directly to LinkedIn and Facebook. Attendees can also view the app schedule and send communications directly through the app to share experiences or keep up with event conversations.

Durham University successfully bid for funding from Santander Universities to run a competition to design an app for the Festival. I submitted a proposal which was  selected as the winner to build the app for this event. This is the first year of the Durham International Festival of Enterprise, and also the first year using an app built by a fellow student for the event. It has been a great learning experience, excellent practice in app development and great business experience from a consulting perspective due to pitching the app and its capabilities many times.

In the spirit of entrepreneurship, I wanted to share important tips and suggestions when building an app as a part of either a project or a business idea. As students looking to start a new venture or entering the work force, a little app knowledge can go a long way. Even if you have little to no app experience, there are steps you can take to succeed in delivering a great digital app experience to your audience.

Understand your client
Understand your client’s true ask as simply as possible. Break down each request to a bullet point focusing on the value your app will bring. Think results, not services.

Create your project plan
Create a detailed project plan to map out the process. This will be your treasure map to guide you along your way. Ensure there are separate line items for often overlooked phases such as strategy planning, receipt of content, and additional time for the unexpected (just in case!). You can also include client review and a ‘pre-launch’ phases for extra testing ahead of the big day. It’s important to note many steps will happen in parallel, not in top-down fashion.

Source your app
Experienced developers can jump into Xcoe, Objective-C or Cocoa programs and build away so consider collaborating with a student developer to test your app’s feasibility. Have no coding expertise? Don’t worry! There are many systems you can leverage with ready built components to suit your needs. Google will be your friend here to find the type of system to meet your app’s project goals.

Plan your content
Be prepared to work with various partners to bring the project to life. For the DIFE app, I worked directly with the BE Group’s consulting project manager and designer during the process who were great partners for the project. Communicate frequently with your project manager and count on them for guidance, questions about the process or to coordinate meetings with additional key players. In working with editors or designers, be sure to create a consolidated and detailed list of your specific content or image needs. A master list will be easier for the designer to reference in the future.

Build your app
….and test, test, test! Test to ensure you know exactly what users will see and experience. Also, be ready to incorporate feedback from your stakeholders during the build and testing period. Small adjustments and fine tuning are often needed to get the final product just right

Hiccups and delays will happen. They are simply inevitable on a project, but detailed planning can help you prepare for uncertainties. Also, keep communication open with your client and partners in the event hiccups do occur and escalation is necessary.

For more information on the DIFE programme and speakers, download the Durham Festival of Enterprise app, available in both iOS and Google Play stores and stop by our website for up to the latest updates.

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