So, what’s your next step? How do you get from the ideation stage to actual product creation and delivery? Let us guide you, step by step, in your quest to create an awesome mobile app.
Create your App’s Blueprint
What does a customer want and how is your app going to provide that? What purpose is your app going to serve? What is its raison d’ étre (reason for existing)? Clearly define this. It will also answer the question: Why will any customer buy your app?
This means that you can gauge:
- The demand for your app
- Your target audience
- The commonly expected features (unless your app is a one-of-its-kind and never-offered-before type, something similar may already be available in the app store)
This is crucial to your app’s survivability. Create storyboards, make presentations or generate infographics – whatever works for you – clearly detailing this information.
Do your Market Research
The importance of market research can never be overemphasized! Survey your target market and collect data. Who will buy my app? What kind of demand will my app have? What features do similar apps fail to offer to customers? Can my app bridge the gap? How?
The answers to your questions lie in a detailed market research – perform an online or in-person survey of a sample of customers, pose questions to your network on LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit and various internet forums, and check out your competitors’ offer. This will help you know for sure:
- The size of your target market i.e. the demand for your product.
- The kind of features that your app should have which makes it better than your competitors’.
- Who exactly you are building for – what’s the ideal persona of your customer?
- How much money you can make – the financial opportunities available to you.
What sets your App apart?
Starting with 16 thousand apps in December 2009, Google’s Play store had around 3.5 million apps as of December 2017 while Apple’s app store had 100 thousand apps and currently is around 2.2 billion+.
As a natural consequence of your detailed market research, you have with you a lot of data on what your customers are looking for. Define/outline/list all of those features that you plan to include in your app. What is it that your app offers which your competitors don’t? Write this down. It will help while actually coding and developing the features of your app. Offer few features at a time and hold off more features, which you can provide later as an update. What kind of user experience are you looking to provide? Make a note. This will help during the user-interface design.
The ranking is important. Include keywords in your title and description. Boost your download rate, reviews, and ratings.
Determine Your Business and Revenue Model
Once you’ve built your app, you will be launching a product and doing business. The first step always is to have a business model in place. Identify your key partners, resources, activities, value propositions, channels, and costs.
How will your business start generating money? There are numerous approaches:
- In-app advertising by displaying 3rd party ads inside your app or on your website
- Offering freemiums i.e. completely free and functional versions of your app containing only the basic features. You can then offer a full, feature-rich experience of your app through a paid upgrade.
- Affiliate marketing by promoting 3rd party products on your app
- Subscriptions: Charge a monthly or yearly fee for using your services
Choose the Platform
Tempting as it may be, don’t start developing both Android and iOS versions of your app, unless you have the time and resources for it.
While iOS apps can be built faster and at a lesser cost than Android apps, the sheer number of Android-based users is much larger than those using the iOS platform.
You can clearly see from the graph below, that since 2012 at least, both Android and iOs seem to have entered a relatively saturated phase, for both seem to follow constant trends that are very likely to continue in the near future. Hence, we can reliably predict their market shares for the next year or so: iOS will likely hold somewhere between 12 and 18 per cent of the market share, while Android’s market share is likely to fall between 80 and 88 per cent.
(Bear in mind though, that these are global estimates, not national or regional!)
Where is your target audience?
Are you tweaking some functionality of Android? Are your customers mainly iOS users? Are the functionalities of your app better supported by one of the platforms versus the other? Android supports 160 devices while Apple’s latest iOS 9 supports 15 devices.
Determine the answers and then decide.
Create the Technical Architecture
While building your mobile app in a fully-structured manner keep the following in mind:
1. The type of device it will support: The parameters you should consider include the screen size, resolution, CPU, storage space and memory.
2. Internet connectivity: You need to make allowances for intermittent connectivity and design your data access mechanism and caching accordingly.
3. Designing the user interface (UI): Resist the temptation to do too much too soon. While you do want to “stand out”, you don’t want to confuse or baffle your users. A simple UI that is intuitive to use, at the outset, is your best bet.
4. Techniques of navigation: How will your customer navigate through the app? What method will they use – single view, scrolling, searching, through tabs, through gestures or stacked navigation bar? This directly impacts the user experience.
This list is indicative and not exhaustive. If you’re an experienced mobile app developer, you can choose to do all the technology-related heavy lifting. However, getting a CTO to review your code can be rewarding.
If you’re not into development yourself, then you could consider engaging a freelancer or outsourcing to a development team. This would require robust coordination to ensure that both of you are on the same page at every stage of the development.
Alternatively, you could hire a company like Alphalogic Inc, with more than a decade of experience, to help you by providing an end-to-end solution – from coding and developing your mobile app, helping you choose a platform whether Android, iOS or cross-platform, to assisting in App Store submission to building custom APIs to let your app communicate with the central database including integration with third-party APIs like Google Maps, Facebook Graphs, Twitter, and Instagram.
Estimate App Development Cost
The quintessential question is, obviously, how much is this going to cost? App development ranges from $25,000 to $1,000,000 depending on the features, complexity, platform, whether you’re using back-end servers, updates as well as marketing. It could be developed for much less too!
Do basic cost estimation. You can also get quotes from different developers and firms.
A survey by Clutch estimates these costs:
1. Requirements Analysis: $5000 to $25,000
2. Design: $5000 to $50,000, with average cost less than $5000
3. Development: Depends on hybrid vs native apps. Also, on the complexity of features included – $5000 to $25,000
4. Testing: $5000 to $10000. And, the maintenance cost of $5000 to $10000.
5. Marketing: Should nearly equal your development budget else, you’ll build a great product that neither anyone knows about nor uses!
However, before you make your decision, consider:
- The developer/firm’s prior experience in developing your “type” of app
- Their core expertise
- Capacity to use multiple coding languages
Hiring an experienced firm with a good track record will go a long way in avoiding re-work or re-hiring headaches in the future.
Bring your Minimum Viable Product to life
Now, that you’ve defined your app, chosen the platform, decided on the features and found your perfect app development partner, it’s time to bring your minimum viable product (MVP) to life! This is the first working version of your app containing the most basic features. You can call it a demo if you will.
The intention is to make your MVP enticing enough for users to buy/use it, to demonstrate what users will actually get and generate feedback that could help you refine your product. Keep it simple and provide core features only.
Feedback is extremely essential for you to see the ground reality. It will clearly tell you what your customers expect, what’s working and what isn’t. Rather than building your complete app, launching it and then wondering why it’s not clocking as many downloads as you expected, gaining real-world feedback and improvising your product is way less expensive and heartbreaking.
Validate your App
What if you can replicate the app store experience without having to wait to completely develop your app? You can! Just create a customized landing page where your users can “download” your app – this will give you a clear idea of how willing customers are to buy your app.
Run a small-scale ad campaign. Send traffic to your customized landing page. Collect data and analyze the return on investment.
Use analytics to track your customers’ behavior. How many visitors did your page get? How many of them actually clicked “download”. You will have statistical data on how popular your app really is.
….And, then what?
Now, that you’ve tested your MVP, gathered feedback, developed your complete app, validated and refined it, you’re the app is good to go! So, what do you do next? Market your app, of course!
Get tech bloggers to review your app, post ads on social media, use word-of-mouth publicity and press coverage (if you have a marketing budget). Carefully track user reviews and resolve issues to reverse negative reviews.
So, now that you know what to do, go ahead and create that awesome app and break those download records! If you need assistance though, we’re here for you.
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.