Top Tips to Create an Effective App Requirement Document

While most documentation is produced in the early stages of development project, the implementation stage is one of the most crucial phases of the UX design process.

One does have to conceptualize during research, analysis, and design phases but documentation takes the cake in complexity. It doesn’t always equal the App so one should get the essentials right.

The Anatomy of the App Requirements Document

At the “Build It” phase, the research and prototyping that renders a high-level understanding of the App is complete. Some stages of App development are simultaneously performed and not sequentially as the traditional approach goes about.

Once the purpose of the project is clear along with features, release criteria, and the proposed timeline then the project can be initiated. Here, the PRD may be cut down so let us just focus on main elements.

The PRD is the heart of the project for any designer, developer, and even stakeholders.

App Collaboration for Document Preparation

Failure to document requirements can lead to diverse assumptions about the App. With the problem of excessive design thinking lingering in the horizon, it is important to resort to App leadership with the help of PRD that keeps the team’s focus on usability and aesthetics without any of the functional aspects.

Writing a simple PRD is an art in itself. A PRD doesn’t have to be long-winding or about 100 pages long. Defining the problems that the App is expected to solve will provide a general description of features. The technical details should be reserved to be noted down for the FSD.

The PRD is the most important document for a App manager and the only reference for its marketing, design, and overall engineering. The efficient App managers are known to keep PRDs completed on a daily or weekly basis, although the process is ongoing and never complete until the iterations do not stop.

The Main Sections of the PRD

The four core sections of a PRD for an app includes purpose definition, feature description, release criteria, and the tentative timing. The document needs to contain the “What”, not the “How”. The problem that is being solved should be mentioned in each section of the document to avoid the team making incorrect assumptions. Those designing solutions for the App should get a document that proposes guidelines for building it.

  • Define the App Purpose: Make sure that the user problems must be addressed, keeping in consideration the demographic for which the app is being developed along with various use cases for each demographic. It is also important very important to reiterate while building the app or else it will get lost in the development shuffle. The understanding that the team craves for needs to purpose and the right context is required.
  • Describe the Features: The features section should constitute the main body of the PRD.Features must be described through the interaction design and user experience section so that there is enough flexibility for engineers to devise the same. One should map the required features to App objectives so that the overall business impact can be gauged during development. Ranking features will also help developers to prioritize in case there are drastic scheduling shifts or if some of the features need to be replaced during development.
  • Outline the Release Criteria: One should be clear enough in the document if and when the app is ready to release especially for beta testing. Although it covers technical aspects, the goals need to be described in totality which can be outlined by covering the five points here:\r\n
    1. Functionality - The right percentage of original features that need to be retained and the mandatory functions.
    2. Usability - The look and feel of the app whether it is aesthetically striking and the acceptable time for completing each of the use cases.
    3. Reliability - The acceptable failure rate, their predictability and recover-ability need to be defined.
    4. Performance - The average speed of the app, the maximum response time, and overall memory consumption should be mentioned.
    5. Support-ability - the serviceability, installation scenario, and configurability needs to be discussed in brief.

    The discussion around release criteria should be discussed and mentioned whenever possible and formalized before the build stage. After the same is agreed upon by stakeholders, the documentation should be comprehensive in assessing wherever the App stands.
  • State Constraints & Set up a Schedule: It is difficult to get the exact timing right and one might be held accountable to features that might change as per the market. With a flexible window, one can avoid feature creep since it affects stakeholder expectations. Also, one should mention workflow constraints so that the picture of the process is accurate and the timing is accounted for. This way, the document makes it a point to keep all informed to work backwards from the proposed end date and assign realistic sprint lengths for developing each feature.
  • Keep What Works and Remove the Rest: Since the building process is ongoing, it is detrimental to all interests to involve more paperwork into the sprints. A certain level of documentation can bring order to the mess. Although it does not have to be very detailed, the process of the building needs to be there.User requirements and dependencies of different technical entities need to be documented. The testing process needs to justify changes too. Answering the stakeholder questions about the schedule and the process is the main purpose of the document, as it gives a helpful reference point for the App building process as you prepare for the launch date.
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Written by
Juned Ghachi is the CEO of IndianAppDevelopers, a professional mobile app development company in India for full-cycle mobility solutions. Having 10+ years of experience in the digital marketing field, he excels at offering the best technical advice to clients.

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