Apps have evolved beyond imagination from the early days of the mobile phone. Once we were amazed that we could video call with a friend, now we can interact on all levels and complete most tasks via the smartphone. Anybody can create and release an app in today’s tech world. Doing it and achieving success in this app development is different. Here we offer a guide to building a successful app through five steps. While this is only an introduction to building and launching an app, it will help you understand where to start your further research.
Refine your idea
Job number 1 is to find an idea that is worth pursuing. Not all app ideas are good app ideas. Sometimes what you think people really need is something only helpful in your world.
If you do not have access to oodles of data like the major developers, your starting point will be different. You will be looking for a problem that requires a solution. You will need to think of a pain point that will affect a significantly large group of people. You cannot believe for a moment that everyone will buy your app – so you need to be clear that there is a big enough demographic to offer the success you are looking for. Therefore, you need to refine and test your idea before progressing.
To come up with an idea use the “W” questions. Who? What? When? Where? Why?
If you have a clear answer to these questions for your app idea then you are already on strong foundations. To get these answers you may need to do some detailed research. The more you know now the less surprised you will face in the future.
Before too long you need to share your idea with people who build apps all the time. Don’t worry – they won’t steal the idea – but they will tell you if it is nowhere near as novel as you believe. Equally, it might not be the idea that makes this app a success – it is likely how you execute your plan that will make you a superstar or a dud.
Outline your strategy
The next step is building your strategy. To do this you need to ask a few questions. First, who is your competition? Keep a record of your direct competitors and keep a log of what they are up to – even if it is in a basic spreadsheet.
Second, how much can you spend? Identify your upper figure and make projections. Building an app will cost more than you think. Are you able to fund the development?
Now, what are your goals for your app? What are you trying to accomplish? You think you have answered this when coming up with the idea. However, in reality, your vision needs to be fully realised before you begin. If you look to iterate the vision the app will feel like a hodge podge. Part of this vision will be the metrics and performance indicators that will help you judge if your app is a success.
Plan the user experience and user interface
The user experience is central to the success of your app. You need to understand what journey you are taking your user through and how this journey will fulfil the needs and desires of your market. Is onboarding easy enough? Is the navigation intuitive? Get this wrong and your whole concept will disintegrate. You can imagine it as a complex flow diagram. You need to anticipate what your user is thinking or feeling and what they would want to do next.
Do the planning for this experience before you start designing the details of your app. If you get this wrong you will spend a lot of time and money unbuilding and rebuilding to counter the complexity of your journey. Don’t assume that a feature-tastic app is the best app. Sometimes the simplest app is the best.
Then, think how your app should look and note down some ideas of how the user interface should look. Most novice app developers do it the other way around with some troubling outcomes. You need that product roadmap first and then dream of the details.
Build and test the app
Let’s assume you have the money for your app. If you don’t you need to research a lot about pitching for funding. You will find this easier once you have your product roadmap.
If you have the money, then you can bring this app to life. Your first job should be to approach someone who is used to developing apps and work in agile sprints. Sprints tend to work in two week blocks and they should be able to estimate how many sprints it will take. Software developers work in sprints so that the idea can iterate as you go. Every two weeks there will be a reflective and you can see if the app is progressing to your vision. If not, then you can course correct.
Such an approach will also give great opportunities for testing the idea with your user. Assumptions are just that until they are checked with the people who matter – the buyer of your app. Keep checking in with this audience to see that you are on target for a successful app.
Launch the app
Launching strategies could be an article in itself. The biggest mistake is believing you can just release and wait for it to be a success. Just because you are live in the app store doesn’t mean that people will buy it. You need to consider pricing, branding, testimonials, outreach strategy and whether you want a soft or hard launch. It is essential that you research how to deliver your app to market as part of your initial research.