Over our many years of app development we’ve helped many different clients launch a plethora of different apps. We thought we’d share our knowledge to help support anyone venturing into the amazing world of app ownership.
1. Be Realistic
Before you head off down the road of app development, you first need to decide whether or not to start walking. To create a worthwhile application that is going to reach as many members of your target audience as possible, you need to invest. Perform a cost-benefit analysis before you start to determine if an app will really benefit you. Can you afford to spend the time creating it yourself? It may be worth your while to invest in an agency.
Of course, there are a great many benefits to having a well designed and marketed app. Earlier this year, Apple announced that it has over one billion active iOS users while Google claims to have over 1.4 billion active Android users. A good app has the potential to reach out to a lot of consumers.
If you get to this stage, you’ve probably decided that having an app is more than just a good idea. But what is it that you intend to achieve? Having a clear purpose defined before you begin development will maintain focus on the end goal. Write down your thoughts somewhere so you can keep track of them, and get advice where you can. You may have some good ideas, but are they achievable? Once you have a clear purpose, it is much easier to get other people on board – transparency is key.
After you’ve established a purpose, you need a way to measure the success of your app. Utilising analytics will help to show you how your app is being used, and if the app is fulfilling its purpose. If you are not achieving targets, you need to know quickly so that you can make the necessary changes.
Once you’ve established the foundations of your app, the main purpose, you need to do some research. Take a look on the various app stores on different platforms and search for applications that have a similar purpose to your own. If you can’t find any, then you’ve found a niche. But take heed; while you may have found a gap in the market, there may be a reason for developers avoiding it.
If the app that you want to create is similar to existing apps, then play around with them. What do they do well, where to they fall short? You need to be able to create an app that functions at least the same standard. Ideally, you want your app to be the best option on the market. Take the role of the consumer – what is it you want to see?
4. Target Audience
Who is your app for? Knowing your audience will give you valuable information that enables you to streamline the functionality of your app, and keep costs down. You need to know which platform your users are most likely to use, which devices are the most popular, and how they differ. Don’t spend time and money creating features that your audience will not use. You need to know if it’s worth porting your app to most platforms if you discover that the majority of your audience is on Android.
5. Design and Function
You know your customer, so you should have a good idea what it is that they are looking for. Decide on how your app will work, and what it should look like – it’s often worth making it as simple and accessible as possible. With your market analysis, you should determine what features make up a minimum viable product. Decide on the core attributes and focus on them, additional features and further expense can come later; you need to know that your app will function as you intend it to.
Know what you are willing to spend before you spend it. Commissioning an app is only one cost, you need to be clear that there are other expenses. To ensure that your app remains fully functional, you will need to think about maintenance to iron out any bugs. More importantly, you will need to consider the vital task of marketing. If you want to market a new app idea, you will likely need to match your development budget. If you are developing an app for an existing market, you may need to spend almost ten times the development budget if you want to employ disruptive marketing. Scale your expectations to your budget requirements.
7. Search for Agencies
Unless you have the time and skills required to develop the app yourself, finding an agency is the option to take. Having a team of dedicated and talented individuals that are devoted to developing your app will yield positive results. While it is more costly than developing the app yourself, it saves you time that can be spent elsewhere. Ask for recommendations, or use sites such as appindex or Clutch to generate a shortlist of companies that you want to work with.
8. Choose the Right Agency
While there are many agencies to choose from, you need to choose one that will share your vision. What are the company’s values? Find evidence of their skill and passion. Take a look at their portfolio – they may have experience in dealing with apps similar to the one you would like to develop. You need to choose an agency that you can see yourself working with for an extended period of time. Even after the app is initially developed, you may decide to develop it further to meet the needs of your users. You need to think about the long term costs involved.
9. Begin Development
After research, budgeting and selecting your agency, it is time to begin development. Use your market research to ensure that your app is relevant and functional. You need to ensure that both you and the agency you’re working with are on the same page – be transparent. Keeping in contact is essential. Bear in mind that some ideas or functions that you wanted may not quite work in the way you want them to, so be prepared to adjust expectations if necessary. Maintain focus on the minimum viable product, as this is your first goal, then roadmap in phases. Don’t allow the project to go off track by trying to develop unnecessary functions in the early stages.
10. Test and Release
When you get a functioning, pre-release version of your app, start experimenting. Invite members of your target audience to alpha and beta testing, as this will give you effective feedback that can highlight any issues with your application, while providing you with information needed to define your roadmap. It’s much easier to make adjustments at an early stage. When you are happy that your product has achieved its goals, release it. You will continue to receive feedback, and can add further attributes where appropriate.
If you are interested in starting your first app, find out how we can help by getting in touch.