Anyone who’s ever told you building a functioning, successful mobile app is easy was lying to you! It’s a rather hard, frustrating process, with no clear guarantees of success when everything is all said and done.
Here’s a step-by-step to help make the process a little easier for you:
Step 1: Figure out the need or problem you intend to solve.
If you’ve already figured this out, skip to the next step. If not, you need to figure out how you’re going to help your fellow man with your highly successful app.
If you’re stuck for ideas, Shopify offers a pretty good guide on uncovering niches and ideas to exploit. I’ve heard a thousand-and-one ways entrepreneurs have uncovered ideas in the past. One such idea, was to tour around to restaurants and coffee shops and just listen to people talking while taking notes.
Henry Ford once said something along the lines of “If I had of asked, people would have said ‘build faster wagons'” or something like that. So asking won’t get you anywhere when it comes to most ideas. You have to figure out the problems of the world and find a solution.
Build a big list and figure out what makes most sense for your first app.
Step 2: Plug your shortlist of app ideas into Google Keyword Planner.
Since actually asking people if they need what you want to sell them won’t always work, Google Keyword Planner is one of the most popular ways to see if there’s a buzz surrounding the problem you want to solve. If you have another tool you prefer, have at it.
Everyone wants to know “is there an app that will do that” but you have to find out if anyone’s searching for the solution to the problem you want to solve. Plug your keywords in and see if people are talking about the issue and if so, how many are talking.
Step 3: Figure out the details.
Now that you have a highly searched problem and feel you can offer the solution, it’s time to get down to putting the foundations of that idea on paper — or whatever media you prefer. This free web-based mockup tool is pretty cool too, if the UI doesn’t intimidate you.
For most of you, this step will be so essential. Put a lot of time into this part of the project, particularly if you’re going to hire a developer to build the app. Which I assume most of you will be doing.
Step 4: Focus on cost cutting when it comes to included app features.
A minimalist approach is best when it comes to putting out the first edition. You want the features that are included to work flawlessly. Put anything that your developer labels as difficult to do ($$$) for later after you’ve generated some profits.
It’s necessary, in most cases, to offer a free and paid version of the app. The free version will come first and will be used to beta test all your features to make sure they’re fulfilling their purpose and drawing in actual paying customers. Leave the “nice to haves” for later on after roll-out.
Step 5: Find an app developer.
Find a developer or development company that has built apps similar to yours and/or has a portfolio you like. Check all samples and references with religious tenacity and don’t write the final check until you’re happy with the app’s functionality and look.
Most designers will charge 25 – 50% upfront to make sure you’re committed. Check out this Quora discussion to see how and when you should be charged for an app developer.
Step 6: Set up your various app developer accounts.
You can register with Google Android and the Apple Store for a developer account as an individual or business. They charge $25 – $100 per year, respectively. You can’t post your app for sale without an account.
Step 7: Get your analytics set up.
I’m not an expert in this area, so I’ll gloss over this one and let you choose which tools you think will work best for tracking sales and usage of your app. This list from Woo Rank has some highly recommended apps for developers such as Flurry, Localytics, and CrazyEgg, among others.
Step 8: Use any feedback you get immediately.
As downloads start happening fast and furious, you’ll get plenty of feedback. Encourage the community surrounding your app to grow by making the most common suggestions — changes and additions — as quickly as you can.
Don’t jump at every suggestion though, or you’ll likely bankrupt yourself before you even get started!
Step 9: Add the extended features you left out earlier.
Once you have a well-functioning free version of your app, start adding in value features and launch your paid version (ie., the money maker). Now is the time to see if this thing has wheels and the capability to make you some real cash.
If you have any suggestions for building/launching an app, please leave them in the comments so everyone can benefit from your knowledge.
Main Image Credit: Breyton Ernsting/Flickr