How would you describe today’s typical Mobile-App user? More often than not, he tends to be like a spoiled brat: fussy, demanding, distracted, even short-tempered! You can’t blame them; after all, App Developers are the ones who over-indulged them in the first place! Now, they revel in the luxury of excessive choice.
But among all those flaws, there also lies an opportunity; the more users expect, the more problems they have, hence more opportunities open up for App Developers. That’s why you can find apps even for the most trivial of problems today.
Yet due to the frivolous nature of people, it’s rare to get a second chance if you go wrong. Hence, you can’t afford any mistakes in your first attempt!
The first thing to do if you have an idea is to make sure you are clear about which problem it tackles and how it aims to help the User. Like any business, you need to place your customers’ needs on a pedestal. You mustn’t let your dreams fail due to the whims of some insolent user!
Question 1: Why to Read more?
Reading this blog will ensure your first attempt will go as well as it can. You must be able to answer the following questions confidently and clearly before you even start your App development. These questions bring:
- Prevent Delays
- Increase Success Odds.
Keep reading to build successful apps!
Question 2: What is the aim of your Mobile App?
This basically sets the tone of your App, your team, your development process, and may as well define your personality for the coming few months.
More importantly, your Aim should allow you to develop a successful business model around your Application; after all, that is your aim, right? (Unless you plan to run a charity, this is indeed very important).
Without this, it’s easier to fall in a trap of re-designing and re-focusing over and over. As you research more about your market needs and gain feedback over time, it’s quite likely that you’d want to shift your focus every time you see a negative feedback. So, you may end up going in circles, without ever completing your app in time.
Thus, an aim allows focus, and even provides direction in times of crises.
Question 3: Can you lay down what your Mobile App will do in a few words?
This again is there to provide focus, but instead of addressing the goal or aim of the app and your new venture, it centers on the primary or the most important feature of your app.
For instance, Amazon App’s primary feature is users’ convenience for buying products; product reviews, for example, come next.
You could say this draws from the aim; where the primary feature set must execute the aim of your App or Business.
Question 4: How can You Protect Your Mobile App Idea?
This question is something that bothers several of my clients; everyone creative or inventive, is a little wary of hiring and consulting people due to their fear of someone stealing it.
What makes this fear worse, is ideas cannot be patented.
Hence, no matter how original your idea, if someone else beats you to execute it, they could end up patenting it in their name!
To avoid any damage to your creativity, and to protect your intellectual property, you must firstly only work and discuss your idea with people you trust, and even then, only sparingly. Share only what they need to know!
If you have to divulge and share it in detail with app developers (whom you hire to develop the app for you; and, who need to understand it completely in order to build it to your precise needs), then you must use Non-Disclosure Agreements before you divulge any details.
Question 5: Who owns the project?
This question addresses the need to have clear definitions of “Who’s who” in your team. It specifically is concerned with who’s in charge (i.e. Who’s the CEO?) – the one who has the final say in important decision-making?
Apart from that, it’s supposed to formally address the issue of equity.
- How do you plan to split equity?
- Will you split it evenly among your team?
- Does someone have a majority over others?
- How much equity have you sold (or intend to sell) to outside sources?
- Who’ll be the largest shareholder then?
- What’s your plan for ownership when you launch?
- Does your team continue working with you?
- Does a new one join that has some post-launch experience?
- Do you intend to sell more equity post-launch?
Conflicts are inevitable, but like most important factors, having this cleared out from the get-go will reduce them. You don’t want suits lining up at your doorstep as you start getting into money!
Question 6: Who will be your Mobile App’s main users?
Any successful app that exists today, started out with an aim of solving some kind of a problem for its users. (At times, the users didn’t know about the problem until they realized there was an alternative!)
Your Aim presents a solution to an existing or hypothetical problem; the users are those for whom it’ll be solved.
So, this question will help you understand your target audience, its demographic, its usual interests and habits. Through that, you could identify what types of phones or tablets they are likely to use.
Question 7: Which Platform will be the best for those users?
A precise answer to the previous question, in turn, will help you address which type of platform and OS you should focus your App development on.
At times, you may want to focus on one type of device or OS to gain the advantage of features native to it; other times, you may prefer to build an App that can be implemented into all major Operating systems and devices.
That will be dictated by the aim of your project, the type of user, your competitive advantage, and other market characteristics.
For instance, if your app will primarily be used by iPhone and iPad users, you can focus on developing it in iOS and optimize it by taking advantage of its various quirks.
If, on the other hand, you had built the app for both Android and iOS, you would’ve limited your design to the common features in both.
Question 8: How important will Design be for the Mobile App?
This question once again follows the previous one.
With your target users well-defined, you can have a rough outline of your design drawn out that suits their tastes. This will prevent conflicts and delays later. You can also assign design’s priority level.
If you only focus on design at the very end when it’s supposed to, say, be one of the App’s central features, you’d have an extensive delay!
User experience is the key here; it has to be in align with your main aim as well. It’s crucial that your App does exactly what you want, that it simulates a User experience exactly like you imagined it.
If, for instance, your app’s users are going to be teenagers, then your App should likely be design-orientated to attract their brief spans of attention. On the other hand, older people might favor simplicity over a loud design.
Question 9: What makes your Mobile App different from your Competitors’?
This is also related to your aim. If let’s say, your aim is to solve a problem that your target users face or may face, then you’d think that you’re offering something that no one else on the market does!
That’s what most App developers tend to think, that they’re the “first ones” to do it. That’s, unfortunately, usually not true!
Most likely, you may not have direct competitors, but you are bound to have some sort of competition at least. (Long live Capitalism!)
In any case, without your App’s existence, people would be solving their problems through various ways, however imperfect they may be. After launching, your App will be competing with these primitive solutions. One can look at this question as a variant of ‘How do my intended users solve their problems today?’.
This will help you lay down your App’s potential value and may help you figure out your pricing strategy.
Question 10: How much would it cost to build your Mobile App? and How long would it take?
This is a financial requirement for any type of project. Building or creating something will require time, effort and resources, and not just your own!
It could take months, if not years before your App starts making money, but you still would have to pay people for their resources, time and effort.
Broadly, and Most importantly, you should be able to split costs into:
- Fixed Costs or Overheads
- Variable Costs
It’s intelligent to break these down further to ensure you have included all the costs. Unless you’re already deep down in money, you’ll need funding from other sources (most commonly VC’s due to the high level of risk), and they tend to appreciate numbers that put all associated costs precisely. This, they use to see if your App is worth that money, in their opinion.
Further, splitting into Fixed and Variable costs will allow you to recognize how many or how much you have to sell in order to Break Even. These numbers improve clarity for both your team and your investors.
Even more useful is delineating the different phases of your app’s timeline with respect to costs and expected revenue; this adds precision to your value analysis, especially to an outsider.
To your VC, this could help them understand your Payback period, its Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and Net Present Value (NPV). Those values will help them decide if they want to fund, and to allow them to set their proffer terms.
Further, the timeline would help you build your Product Backlog and associated deadlines to stay on track.
Question 11: What is the monetization strategy for the Mobile App?
This again relates to the primary aim of your App and Business. If your App is your Business, then all your revenue would come directly from the App and its users, so you would have to figure out its pricing model: a fixed price, a subscription model, a blend of both, other in-app purchases, etc.
If it’s going to rely on ads for revenue, then you should have an idea about what kind of ads to have, how many ads, how they appear, etc.
If the App, however, is supposed to complement your main business, then your monetizing strategy will focus on how to drive traffic to your money-making business.
Having this laid out explicitly will allow you to not lose focus, and to build its features accordingly.
Question 12: What could hinder your Mobile App’s Success?
Here, you try to identify any or all anticipated and possible risks associated with your project. Often, these can be primarily split into two types:
- Internal Risks
- External Risks
Then, you consult other members of your team to come up with a list of suggested solutions for those risks.
For instance, on one side of a paper, you could write down all anticipated risks after consultation with your team, and on another, you can write the proposed solutions to tackle those risks as and when they occur.
These risks may include any outside dependencies that can cause delays or increase costs. And a proposed solution for that could be assigning this specific dependency to someone will ensure responsibility.
Sometimes just being aware of a particular risk early on could prevent it from happening altogether. If not, then at the very least, it will allow your team to plan for contingencies to reduce the impact.
I hope you found this post useful. I tried to be concise and gave you a list of the questions that I found essential.
To conclude, I’ll reiterate the most important thing to take away from this post: You should be able to answer all these questions for your App before beginning development. You don’t have to have it on a piece of paper (but that helps), but they must be clear in your head.
Without clarity, belief and confidence in what you’re trying to build, it’s bound to fail! (Yes, that’s the Awful Truth!)
How did you start developing your App? Did you try to answer these questions? Please Do share!
Dhananjay (DJ) Goel is the CTO at Alphalogic, passionate about technology, startups, game of thrones and coffee. He enjoys working on challenging problems with innovative startups.