- Thinking about building a mobile app?
- How much will it cost, who can build it and what is the result for you?
Building a mobile application for sale in the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android can be a big process. Here are 8 tips for building a mobile app that will help you be prepared for the ride!
1) Before you dive in
Ask yourself does it exist already? Do your research and download and play with as many apps that are similar as you can. If it exists see if you can improve upon it with your unique intellectual property or simply make it more useable. Can you add or leverage your own IP and the unique features of a phone to make it stand out?
2) Funding and commitment
Fund and commit to the app with your own time and money or your business. Be aware that building a custom application is not a quick or cheap exercise and most developers fail with a lack of forethought. Have a clear outcome and task to be completed and stay on track during development, checking progress against your goal. Don’t be tempted to change the scope midway as it will complicate the process and increase your costs. Put aside plenty of time for meetings and testing. It’s your app, so you will need to guide your developers. Be realistic, a simple iPhone app can start at about $30,000, and if you also want it on Android you could be looking to double that number.
3) Finding a developer
Ask friends, your suppliers, business contacts and your customers for a reference for a developer. Get all of your ideas and research documented before talking to a developer, as they will need to know about the idea prior to being able to quote you on the build. Be prepared for questions about design and branding, outcomes and desired business results. They should also quiz you on your budget and time allocation to get this done.
4) Selecting a developer
Select a developer who you get on well with and believe can do the job well. Be prepared for the costs involved and be careful of asking for partnership or reductions based on future predictions. These developers have seen it before many times and asking for free development in return for partnership shows a lack of respect for their time and your commitment to the project. If you don’t invest in your own success, why would they?
5) Launching and Marketing
Prepare your marketing strategy, how you will deal with user feedback, and look for potential investors to help you build. These tasks will require you to determine your value by looking at the user and meeting their need. Be careful here and work out the actual needs rather than what you think they need. Market research (surveys do still work) can help you determine this before embarking on the path to a big commitment.
6) Measurement of success
What is the business benefit? How will you benefit from building the application? Will it be from premium subscriptions, or by sales of the app at a certain value? Will you use advertising and if so, where and how much will you be charging your advertisers? What will the advertiser expect in terms of exposure and how will you deliver on that? It could be that you are striving to build a community for a product that is not on mobile at all, so how will you foster that relationship?
7) Planning the application
Your developer will do many things prior to touching any code. They will brainstorm the idea and solutions, which will turn into storyboards or wireframes to show on paper how the user will interact and use the application. They may build a prototype with dummy data and limited functionality to help you visualise the process and get a feel for the app. There will be design and branding considerations and many pages to look at to ensure you are happy.
Make sure you have good lines of communication open with your developer and that everything gets documented. At the end you don’t want to be arguing over something that is not in writing. You are responsible for making sure your idea is being turned into reality the way you want it, but you must also trust your developer to apply their specialist skills and knowledge to the problem and listen to their advice. Use a good project management tool like BaseCamp. Ensure you have time set aside regularly to go over the work they produce. Your guidance is required on a regular basis to ensure no assumptions are made that send the application off course and cause issues down the line.
Thanks for reading!
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