There are millions of apps created on the various App stores to serve one purpose or another for the user. A simple search on App Store for any app category yield hundreds, if not thousands of results. A great many developers have dedicated their time and resources towards creating the very best mobile applications on the market. These apps have features that make them attractive to the users: seamless and intuitive integration with various platforms, a great user interface as well as visual appeal.
Anyone interested in creating an app will, therefore, have their work cut out of what they need to do to break into the market. The fierce competition means that your app needs to be top-notch so users can embrace the newly developed application. Transforming your app idea from the mind into reality takes a commitment to perfection, and some patience as well.
Equally important is the aspect of marketing and advertising your app. Many developers have wonderful products which customers are not aware of because they didn’t factor marketing into their plans. The success of your app on the market depends on how you convince the users through targeted marketing.
Unfortunately, there are also many app ideas that would currently be earning billions if only they were implemented. For one reason or another, upcoming developers may fail to get guidance on how to navigate the murky waters that are the design and development of an app. Moreover, this article endeavors to provide a clear outline that startups can follow in refining and developing their idea into an actual mobile application.
Before you embark on your app development project, there are things that need to be considered first. Plans have to be carefully laid down so that the entire project becomes successful. Here are the things to get out of the way before starting the development of a new app.
Understand yourself and your company
Apps are created either by individuals or companies. As diverse as the developers and businesses are, so are the reasons for which these apps are created in the first place. The first step towards successful refining of your app idea is to understand yourself or your company.
Apps, since they are tools for solving problems, are also representations of their creators as well. You might have to think about your brand image and what the app you create will portray. Will the app enhance your image or distract from it? Also, does it serve the overall goals and objectives of your business? The answers to these questions make it clear whether the idea should be developed further or not.
Do a market survey
The next step is to consider your market. Because of the proliferation of apps in the market, there is always the risk of your app failing to gain traction if a proper market survey is not done. There is a rising trend in the market where consumers are looking for products that meet their specific needs. Your target market wants a product that is simple, easy to understand and convenient.
A market survey will identify the kind of products that are already in the market and what improvements can be done to them. Find out what your competitors are doing well and where you can improve up. This approach guarantees that you can avoid making the same mistakes that competition is making.
Another important aspect of the market survey is the identification of your target market. It is virtually impossible to please everyone with the product you launch in the market. For this reason, seek to identify a specific market segment that you will target with your application. Moreover, once identified, narrow it down as much as possible for higher chances of success. Identify the specific problem that your app is going to solve.
Challenge your assumptions
The decision to implement a specific app idea may sometimes be fueled by reasons that may not be sustainable in the long run. Sometimes as a developer, you feel the urge to create an app just because you feel self-confident or because everyone around you has urged you to do it.
To deal with a biased decision making, it is important to consult widely before arriving at a decision. You need to resist the temptation to rely on the feedback from family and friends only. Interview local app developers and receive honest feedback on your idea. A questionnaire sent out to the target audience can also do great in determining the viability of the idea. The responses from such varied sources serve as reality checks in case there was a bias in the decision.
Understand the process
You need to understand how the entire app development process works if you ever hope to be successful in your endeavor. The development process is crucial especially if this is the first mobile application designed and developed for your idea or business. There is a lot you have to do before the actual product becomes a reality. Conceptualization, hiring a design, development, and testing teams are just a few of the crucial steps you will have to undertake on this journey. The project occupies a considerable chunk of your time. You should, therefore, be willing to sacrifice to make your dream a reality.
Considerations to have in mind
While the app development process may be different for various people, some basic features are common to all of them. The crucial considerations need to happen before embarking on the journey of app development. There are several essential components of app design and development that every developer has to think about. The following are the most critical.
App development is a rather costly process, especially for those who are working on their own. The project requires a significant investment in terms of the number of people to be employed for design and development. Funding is the reason why startups approach third-parties such as companies to fund their projects.
However, contrary to popular opinion, there are no readily available funds out there just waiting for you to present your app idea. Getting funding partners requires effort and commitment. Unless some investors are waiting on the sideline, you have to brush up on your people skills. Also, while at it, you need a professional presentation to deliver your idea to the target audience. Having proper documentation is the surest way to convince potential investors to show that you are serious about your application. Once you have an agreement on funding, draw up an agreement to protect you both in case things go south.
Apart from the financial partnership, you need other players to bring your idea to life. The development/design partner is one of the parties you will have to work with. You might have to carefully consider several factors before you settle on a suitable design. The selected design team will help and simplify your concept for the future development team. It’s critical that the hired development company have the necessary resources and experience in handling such a project. Otherwise, your idea will quickly fall through the cracks.
Just like any other project, app development needs to have a schedule that can be followed by all the parties involved. A realistic plan ensures that everyone does what they are assigned to do so that the app is completed and launched in time. Plan for and indicate the essential milestones in the project and work towards achieving them in time. Moreover, in case things do not go as expected, make the necessary adjustments so that the project remains on course.
Getting down to business
Now that the preliminary matters have been taken care of, you can now embark on the actual design and development of the app. In this step, the design team works to implement the app idea. You may work on your own or get various people to assist you at different stages of the implementation process. The steps followed in implementation are outlined below.
Make a list of features
The first stage is to conceptualize your idea by putting it down on paper. Making a list of the key features makes it possible to refine your idea as you expand on it. It is recommended to have as many brainstorming sessions as possible, where you will write down the idea differently each time. The list will come in handy when consulting with potential partners. Make a list as simple and easy to understand as possible.
Create a sketch or wireframe
The second stage in the implementation process is the creation of the sketch and wireframes. You develop the skeleton/rough sketch of your idea to help define the product requirements. Drawing a rough sketch can be done with pen and paper, while online tools can be used to create a wireframe. In case you aren’t good at this or haven’t done it before, get someone who understands sketching to help. At this juncture, you do not need any technical know-how. The list of features together with the wireframe sketches make up the specifications for building the mobile app.
Design the UI/UX
After finding financial and design partners, work with them to design and the UI/UX of the app. The detailed app wireframe serves as the guide for the application flow and screen function and should, therefore, be created first. The visual design is done after the wireframe. Fonts, colors, themes and the visual appearance of your app are developed at this stage. At this point, you need to evaluate and review the project in terms of cost, time and development schedule. Adjustments such as reduction or addition of features can then be made based on this review.
Develop and test the app
The next stage is where the developer works to build the code to run the app. You may do this yourself if you are competent in this area or get a professional developer or firm to do it for you. Review and test the app on an iteration schedule to provide functional feedback. It’s important to keep control of the timeline, cost, and quality of the app throughout this stage. You can also bring in other people such as your friends to help in the testing process.
Launch and market the app
If you are satisfied that the app is ready and works as expected, you need to launch it on the Google Play store or/and on the iTunes App Store. These are the two largest markets for mobile apps. You need to start your marketing campaign to increase the uptake rate for the app. Consult with app marketing experts for guidance. Taking advantage of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can also be a great way of doing marketing. Contact bloggers, reporters and other developers who might be interested in your product to help you spread the word.
Collect market response data in preparation for the next phase.
The initial launch and marketing is just the beginning of the journey. As users interact with the app, collect data on demand and market response. Collect the information for the next phase of the development process. Use the received data to improve on its features. However, if the performance is dismal, analyze the data to discover what is wrong and take action on it.
The app development process is a journey that needs careful thought and planning. A well laid out plan is sure to make the process easier and manageable, apart from the benefit of getting to see your idea coming to fruition. Hopefully, this guide will have shown you what you need to do to avoid falling along the way.