When you’re ready to consult a development team for an estimate on your software solution, they are going to ask you for your features list. A features list is just what it sounds like – a list of functions that the app will provide for its users. 

For your development team to give you an accurate estimate for the timeline and cost of your project, they will need to know exactly what they’re building. Think of it as a bonus room addition to your house. When you ask the contractor to provide an estimate, they need to know how large the room will be, what kind of flooring to install, which walls they need to tear down, etc. The more work, the more your room addition will cost. Similarly, the more complex your app is, the longer and more expensive development will be. 

In this article, we will discuss how to build a comprehensive feature list.

Determine your budget

This seems like an obvious place to start because your budget will drive the rest of the app development. The more money you have in your budget, the more detailed the app can become. We work with many entrepreneurs who participate in various grant programs, so several of our clients already have their budgets determined for them by the programs they receive their funding from. We encourage you to allow some wiggle room in your budget because we are 1,000% sure that new features you haven’t thought about before will pop up as the project progresses. We recommend that you provide a price range for your developers to build their estimate. 

Write out a statement of purpose

For the sake of this article, let’s assume that you have already come up with your software solution, have conducted thorough market research, determined your target audience, and are ready to jump into the development phase. 

Whether you’re building an app to educate users on a specific topic, or you’re building an app that will work as a game, you need to come up with a “thesis” statement to convey its overall purpose. When we ask our clients for their “thesis”, we usually approach the question by asking them to define what successful completion of the project will look like. Here’s an example:

“By the end of the first phase of my project, the app will be used to educate users on how to naturally balance their hormones. Users will go to my app for educational resources including videos and articles, and they will be able to connect with professionals in the medical field to schedule an online consultation via video conference on their iOS app.”

Break it down

Another thing that we ask all of our clients to do is break down their features into the following brackets:

  • Must have – features that the app needs for a complete user experience
  • Should have – features that are not detrimental to the function of the app but hinder the user experience if not included
  • Nice to have – features that are not immediately necessary, but would add value and an improved user experience
  • Next version – features that are not needed, but as the app gains an audience, would be good to add in the future

Putting your features into these categories will help keep the most important features prioritized while also ensuring that low-priority items are not forgotten. If the project finishes under budget, you can start to add in features that are categorized as “Nice to have”. The more organization, the more smoothly your project will go.

Talk to your developers

We can’t encourage you enough to study your market and target audience to learn what the most pressing needs are for your software solution. If you don’t fully know what your app should include right away, that’s okay! Just provide as many details as you can about what your expectations and goals are for your software solution. Your developers are there to support you and will work with you to determine the fine details of your app.

Ready to get started on your project? We’d love to talk to you. Schedule a free consultation with us.

One of the most essential parts of the development process is establishing the staging and production environments. These two environments allow us to ensure that the code we’ve spent weeks building is both stable and bug-free before it’s released to the end users. Even though staging and production environments are almost identical in appearance, they are actually completely different from each other. In this post, I’m going to talk you through what the staging and production environments are and how they operate.

Let’s start with the staging environment.

The staging environment is a replica of the software being built. Think of it as a test kitchen for a restaurant. It allows the chefs to practice and perfect their recipes before the restaurant opens to the public. Similarly, the staging environment allows developers to test and perfect their code before it is released to the end users in the production environment. Staging environments are used to showcase new features, identify and fix bugs, and allow all other changes to be made and tested before the software can deploy. When we develop new software, we also want our clients to gain access to the staging environment as soon as possible so they can test the app for themselves and give us feedback.

Some important things to know about the staging environment:

  1. Staging environments have the same hardware and software configurations as a live production environment
  2. Access to the staging environment is restricted and monitored to prevent unauthorized access
  3. Data in the staging environment should be backed up regularly so that any changes can be easily undone if necessary
  4. Staging environments should be tested thoroughly before any changes are made to the live production environment
  5. Software and websites should be tested in the staging environment for compatibility with other applications and operating systems

Now let’s talk about the production environment

The production environment is essentially the “hard copy” of the organization’s live applications, websites, and services. It is the environment that is used by end-users to interact with the organization’s services. It is the most reliable, secure, and up-to-date version of the software solution where the latest versions of the app are made live to its users where they can see, use, and interact with the product. Once changes are made to production, all testing and bug fixes are completed at this point. The production environment contains the final version of the product.

Some important things to know about the production environment:

  1. It should be kept secure and up to date
  2. All software and hardware should be tested prior to deployment in the production environment
  3. A backup should be made prior to any changes to the production environment
  4. The environment should be scalable and able to handle increased capacity
  5. The system should be monitored to ensure optimal performance

So whether you’re in the beginning stages of development or you’re nearing your launch, familiarize yourself with both your staging and production environments so that you can better understand your product and create a comprehensive onboarding experience for your users.

You have a brilliant software solution and you can’t wait to share it with the world! 💡 You took our “Should you Build an app” quiz and passed with flying colors. Now you’re ready to find a development team who understands your product and can take your vision to the next level.   

One of the first questions that you will be asked by your potential developers is if you want a web or mobile application. If you haven’t done your research, this question might rock your world! Deciding to build a web or mobile app is a HUGE decision that requires significant thought and planning. Today, I’m going to walk you through what mobile and web apps are, their pros and cons, and how you can start to determine which option is right for your product.

Let’s start with Web Apps

Do you pay your rent through an online portal? Or do you log into a patient portal to schedule doctor’s appointments and view your lab results? The platforms that host these services are web applications. Web apps are kept on remote servers and include a client-side component (the part of the app that you use), a server-side component (the backend), and a database that stores and retrieves data for the app. Since web applications are hosted on remote servers, users must have internet access to use the app.

Pros include…

✅ Web apps are accessible on any device

✅ Development is relatively easy, affordable, and does not require additional efforts to publish the app

✅ Web apps can be integrated with other apps and services

✅ Web apps reach a large audience 

Cons include…

❌ Security is not always strong. Web apps are more susceptible to cyber attacks

❌ Web apps can be slow and prone to network errors. If the internet connection is unstable, users will have difficulty accessing the app

❌ Restricted functionality – As web applications are not native, sometimes they cannot use all the features of your device, like advanced camera controls.  

❌ Web apps always need to be hosted on the Internet which requires ongoing costs and maintenance. 

Now let’s discuss Mobile Apps

It’s 2023 and probably safe to assume that the majority of us use a smartphone. Whether you’re texting, listening to music with a music player, or taking photos, you’re using a mobile app. They are designed to run on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Mobile apps are available through distribution platforms, such as the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Mobile apps store their data on the device’s local storage or in the cloud depending on how many users there are using the app. Mobile apps are usually more complex than web apps because of the necessary software and hardware components needed for their features, device compatibility, and operating systems.

Pros include…

✅ The ability to run offline

✅ Mobile apps are usually more engaging than web apps – they are typically more personalized

✅ Mobile apps are more secure than web apps due to the device’s authentication methods and ability to encrypt data stored on the device. 

✅ Mobile apps can be monetized through in-app purchases and advertisements

Cons include…

❌ Mobile apps are complex to develop and usually more expensive

❌ Mobile apps might not be compatible with all devices

❌ Mobile apps updates might take a long time to get published on the App store

As you can see, there are several factors that determine whether you should build a Web or Mobile app. It really boils down to what your specific product needs are, your timeline, your budget, and who your audience includes. We encourage you to consult an experienced development team who can listen to your product vision and inform you on which application will produce optimal results.

Ready to start your project? Connect with us online and schedule a free consultation with our team.

Since Oak City Labs was founded in 2014, we’ve had opportunities to collaborate with professors, academics and clinicians to develop customized software solutions for some of the industry’s most pressing pain points. Working with professors is a unique treat for our team, as they have spent the majority of their careers identifying a specific problem to solve through technology. Their work is thorough and calculated, making their data and software solutions evidence-based or deep in the study phases of research. By the time we connect on our initial Zoom call, they are usually ready to hit the ground running! This month, we want to recognize a few of the incredible professors and clinicians that we’ve had the pleasure of working with. 

Michael A. Crary, Ph.D., FASHA & Giselle Carnaby, MPH, Ph.D., FASHA
Florida Dysphagia Institute

Before we met Dr. Crary and Dr. Carnaby, our team knew little about Dysphagia and its impact on the aging population. Dr. Crary and Dr. Carnaby have spent their careers researching Dysphagia and various therapy methods that could effectively treat and rehabilitate patients. They came to our team in 2021 to discuss an app that would allow clinicians to answer a series of questions, then produce a graph output of their responses. Their goal was to streamline the process of training that was traditionally completed with pen and paper. After hearing their story and seeing the positive impact that Dr. Crary and Dr. Carnaby have in their community, we were eager to jump in and join their efforts to develop the app. As with all of our projects, we met with them on a regular basis to identify what features their app needed to best support their team. 

We spent the next several months developing the iOS app and creating a portal for the Dysphagia Institute’s team to utilize for online learning, training, exams, and certification. By the end of the project, Dr. Crary and Dr. Carnaby had an evidence-based, intuitive, and easy-to-use mobile app along with a portal for their team.  Today, they continue to innovate in the field of dysphagia management with their new app that provides better insight into swallowing disorders.

“We didn’t have a clue about how to proceed with developing an app. Oak City Labs answered all our questions, was clear in communication, and very responsive. Because of their efforts, they’re helping us to grow.” – Dr. Michael Crary

Laura Widman
Professor of Psychology at NC State University

In June of 2022, Professor Widman reached out to Oak City Labs to discuss her ideas for “The Talk Tutor” – an interactive app for parents to use as a guide when speaking to their children about sex and relationships. After meeting with Laura, we learned that many parents feel uncomfortable or unprepared to approach their children about the “birds and bees”. Laura’s mission from the beginning of her project has been to equip parents to confidently approach their children about sex, and provide them with helpful conversation starters, educational resources, and the ability to connect with other parents who are in a similar stage of life. 

Professor Widman came to our team for help in determining whether she should build a web or mobile application. Throughout the next several months, Laura conducted 100 interviews with parents, teachers, pastors, and clinicians to learn more about how the topic of sex is approached from various perspectives. From there, we listened to the feedback she received and determined what the best approach would be for her submission to a grant program. Through many planning sessions with our team, we formed a design and outline of the application. By the end of our meetings, Laura had a design ready to submit for approval and potential funding! We are confident that Professor Widman’s application will find funding in a fantastic program, and we look forward to future development with her. 

“They’re extremely creative and bring ideas to the table. [They are] especially good at working with designers and engineers who really understand how to make a good design and are willing to bring in new ideas and ideas.” – Professor Laura Widman

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. All around the world, family and friends are pulling out their pink clothing to show support to their loved ones who are courageously fighting breast cancer. Sadly, breast cancer is familiar to many, as about 2.3 million women and men have been diagnosed since 2020.

Researchers are working tirelessly to develop a cure to eliminate breast cancer. In the meantime, the tech industry has teamed up with doctors and researchers to create resources that will put treatment control back in the bands of the patient. We narrowed down a list of our five favorite breast cancer management apps that are free and available to download today!

Breast Advocate

The Breast Advocate is available on the App and Google Play Stores. It was the first shared decision-making app that was co-created by both patient advocates and breast cancer specialists. The mission of the Breast Advocate is to empower patients to confidently approach their oncologists and have meaningful conversations about various treatment options. Using evidence-based information and an extensive database, the Breast Advocate provides personalized recommendations for treatments that are based off of the patient’s diagnosis, personal values, and preferences. The app also provides educational tools that include a comprehensive yet personalized approach to all treatment options and links to recent case studies with expert opinions. Treatment for breast cancer is a personal decision that every patient should have complete control over. The Breast Advocate is a fantastic resource to give patients the confidence they need to determine their own treatment journey.


Available on the App Store and Google Play, ChemoWave was created to assist patients in tracking their symptoms, medications, and daily activities. This app allows users to set up medication reminders and keep a journal of their symptoms throughout the day. Additionally, the app provides tools to track daily steps and other physical activities. The app uses AI-enabled insights to generate a breakdown of a symptoms, moods, and treatment actives, then generates a personalized chart for patients to visualize what activities made them feel better or worse.

MBC Connect

Free on GooglePlay, MBC Connect is an interactive patient registry for those with metastatic breast cancers. The app provides educational information on various diagnoses, gives links to the latest clinical trials, and nudges patients with opportunities to connect with other MBC app users. The app allows users to enter their health and medication information while maintaining privacy guidelines. The health and medication information contributes to a powerful database that will drive advances in research!


CaringBridge is available for free on GooglePay and the Apple Store. This app is a helpful resource to keep family and friends up to date on the patient’s cancer journey. With the app, users can write in a personal journal and maintain complete control over the viewing permissions for family and friends. There are also gallery features for users to post their milestone moments and share with the support group. Another great feature is support mobilization. This allows users to coordinate help of all forms, from meal trains to fundraising and donations.


Cancer treatment is costly. The average cancer patient spends about $150,000 in treatment. With ACSFUNdraising, patients can accept donations and access any fundraiser organized by the American Cancer Society. Additionally, patients can register for a Relay for Life and link up with a team who can walk or run to raise funding that goes towards treatment. The app allows family and friends to create fundraisers, share them on social media, and send donation receipts to online givers. Cancer treatment should be available to every person, no matter what their socioeconomic status is. With ACSFunding, the burden of treatment costs can be significantly lifted.


These are just five of thousands of resources available to breast cancer patients! With the help of technology, finding healthcare educational information, and support is made easier. If you or someone you know is battling breast cancer, show your support by sharing these helpful resources.