You’ve got a great idea, and you think it will make for a great app. So far so good, but what happens next? In particular, if you aren’t a developer, you might just assume it stops there. You hope that somebody will come up with an app so you can use it yourself, or you privately think about the money you could make if you only knew what to do next. In fact, it is entirely possible for you to turn that idea into an app, but you do need to take the right steps for that to come to pass. The tips below can help you make your great idea a concrete reality.
Choose Your Platform
One of many decisions you’ll need to make is choosing a platform. Of all the things you need to know about app creation, your platform is right at the top. If you’re a novice in this world, you might assume that development for the two major operating systems can happen concurrently. After all, can’t people usually get the same apps whatever type of phone they have? But this isn’t the case. Development for each platform is significantly different, so while your hope may be to ultimately roll it out across both, it’s best if you concentrate on one for now.
There are a few factors you should consider, but there are a number of reasons why Android is your best choice. While there may be more iPhone users in Europe and the United States, there are more Android users worldwide, and unlike iOS, it is not a closed platform. There is also greater support for devices other than phones, including TV sticks and tablets.
You may also have an easier time finding developers or learning at least something about development yourself since the programming language is a common one and not the specialized language required to do development for Apple. Keep in mind as well that if your product is a success, you can look into developing it for more operating systems. In fact, you can probably think of some apps that you have used or at least heard of that were initially available for just one type of device.
How much is all of this going to cost? The answer, perhaps frustratingly, is that it depends. There are several different factors to consider, but if you’re funding this out of your own pocket, it’s not a bad time to start trying to cut back on your monthly expenses and finding ways to save money so that you will have as much as possible to put toward development, marketing, and other expenses.
There are a lot of ways to do this, including creating your own personal budget and looking at how you can spend less. See if you can cut back on what looks like fixed expenses as well as your discretionary spending. You might assume that your monthly student loan payment can’t be budged, but if you refinance it into a new loan with a private lender, your monthly payment might drop. You can use a student loan refinance calculator to estimate by how much.
As far as your costs go, you first have to know what it is that you actually want. This can mean drilling down and getting more specific with what you are looking for. This will also save time and money. When you can tell a developer that you’ve hired exactly what you’re looking for, it will prevent a lot of false starts and trips back to the drawing board. The next section below offers more specifics that you need to consider at this stage. You should also make sure that you have a cushion for unexpected expenses, which are not uncommon.
The Planning Stages
The first thing to do when you have a great idea is to find out whether anyone else has had the same idea. If they have, is there anything different about yours that will make it competitive? You also need to identify your target audience, including their demographics, what problem they have that you can offer a solution to, and how, in concrete terms, that solution will unfold.
Keep in mind that it’s unlikely that you can hire a freelance developer, thrust an idea at them and say, “make it do this.” At this stage, you’re going to need to do some legwork even if technical things aren’t your speciality. If you’re struggling, you may want to find someone to work with who has more experience in this area and who can help you. There are also tools that can help. For example, one step you need to take is creating a flow chart that maps out what customers will do within your product, and there are software tools that can help you with this. Don’t confuse this with the creation of what’s called an app wireframe, which helps you decide things like where text and buttons will be placed.
Taking the user experience into account is an important element in your planning, and how you approach it will affect your costs. A freelance developer may be cheaper than hiring an agency, but you might need to hire a designer alongside the developer. On the other hand, a full-service agency will have people who can do all of this work for you.
Branding and Monetization
If you’ve ever looked for an app not by name but by function, such as one for fitness or learning French, you probably know there are often, at minimum, dozens of different options out there. This is where finding your identity comes in, which will inform your branding strategy. What you call your product will be part of this. It should be short, memorable and interesting. Keywords can help with your ranking but need to occur naturally. The other thing to consider is how you will monetize. That might be through in-app advertising and purchases. You could also offer a certain level of usage for free and require the user to pay for additional content or functionality.
Testing, Launching and Improvements
You need to do beta testing before you release your new creation out into the wider world. People will accept a few bugs–even big companies release products that have these–but you don’t want to make a poor first impression with something that is error-filled out of the starting gate. You might wonder where you get beta testers, especially since this needs to be a large group and not just a handful of family and friends. There are actually platforms that can link you with testers, and you can decide whether you want them to be chosen at random or specialists in marketing or technical issues. Things like gift cards or access to the product once it’s released can get more testers interested.
You should work on building up name recognition and anticipation prior to your launch. If you’ve crowdfunded the app, you’ve already done that to some extent. Having a domain that matches the name you chose and a mailing list to keep interested potential customers abreast of the launch can also help. Keep in mind as well that your pre-and post-launch marketing strategy will probably differ. Finally, you should pay attention to reviews and user feedback. Not every bit of it will be helpful or actionable, but you can use what is to make improvements in the future.