Be clear about what it shouldn’t do

In the office ideas for new apps are always around. It might be a new idea like Anniversall, but it could also be a new take on existing concepts.

Ideas for an online shop app have been floating around for several months now, but every time we talk about it the scope seems to get bigger. But we want a simple back-end experience.

When you sell clothing you can have a T-shirt in several sizes and colors where each of those properties can influence the price. In The Netherlands we have multiple VAT percentages (depending on the type of goods) and some shops may need to track their inventory. An item in the shop quickly turns into something more complicated than a name, description, image and price. These are the things which make our scope much broader than it needs to be.

Just now I was working on some ideas for the shop and finally realised that we needed some boundaries for the app. Instead of focusing what it should do I created a list of things the app should not do. That made it a lot easier to decide on the attributes of a shop item.

Establishing boundaries makes you run into them. Not having boundaries makes you explore every possibility which will increase the scope and problems you need to solve. Make it easy on yourself and be clear about what it shouldn’t do.

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