Making an app can be a daunting task, even for tech professionals, let alone non-tech individuals. However, fear not, as we are here to help you kickstart your app development journey.
This insightful piece covers essential factors that you must consider before embarking on an app-building journey.
In this blog post, we will guide you through a series of practical tips and tactics, as well as provide you with a step-by-step approach that can save you time and money while ensuring optimal results.
Step 1 - Develop an Exciting Idea
Every successful startup begins with a great idea, and it's essential to start with one that's captivating. However, if you haven't got one yet, it's crucial not to overlook this step.
As the saying goes, the most excellent businesses are born out of real necessity and solve specific problems. Therefore, if you find yourself thinking “If only there was an XYZ app my life would have been so much easier”, there is definitely a gap that you can fill.
However, some needs can be created artificially. Many things we buy today were once deemed useless, but they're now essential parts of our lives. Think about the routine activities you do offline, can you create an app that makes them easier?
You can also stand out by doing something better than the competition. Even a small nuance can propel your project to success. Do you remember deleting apps because they weren't good enough? That's an opening for you to make something better.
But what if you don't have any ideas, but you're determined to make an app? That's a tricky scenario, but you're better off finding a gap in the market than building something blindly. Observe what causes negative emotions throughout the day: if you're feeling frustrated, chances are others are too. Ask your friends and family, post on social media, or survey online groups to find out if there's an unaddressed need in the market.
However, be wary of asking generic questions like "Would you use this app?". Instead, ask if they're willing to pay for a solution right now. Collecting feedback at every stage is the smartest thing you can do, but it must be done correctly. Also, make sure to collect email addresses, so you can contact users when your app launches.
Step 2 - Conduct In-Depth Market Research
Before diving into the app development process, it's crucial to conduct thorough market research. This step will help you understand your target audience, potential competitors, and identify any gaps in the market that your app can fill.
Here are some tips to help you with your market research:
Begin by researching apps similar to your idea in your local market. While you may not find an exact match, you are likely to come across similar apps. Additionally, try translating your idea into other languages and searching for it online.
If you find an interesting app or solution, don't hesitate to reach out to the app owners or developers to learn about their journey and explore potential collaborations. You may even be able to promote an existing app in your country by translating it into your language and marketing it locally, which can save you both time and money.
Lastly, seek out people who have attempted similar projects but failed. Learn from their mistakes to avoid making the same ones. By doing this, you will gain valuable insights and be better equipped to create a successful app.
Step 3 - Create a Memorable Name
A memorable name is key to a successful app. A well-chosen name can be the cheapest marketing investment you'll make and can have great returns in the long run. Take your time to brainstorm and review various options.
Instead of a generic name that includes the word "app," think of associations that relate to the problem you're solving. Consider unique and unexpected names, such as fruit or animal names.
Collect feedback and have people vote for different options on various forums. It's important to choose a name that is simple, yet catchy, and will be easily remembered by potential users.
Step 4 - Make a Plan
One of the keys to success in any project is to establish a plan and set deadlines. Without a clear plan, it's easy to get lost in the details and lose sight of the big picture.
When creating a plan for your app, start by identifying the major milestones you need to reach in order to complete the project. Then, assign realistic deadlines for each milestone and work backwards from your overall target completion date.
It's important, to be honest with yourself, when setting deadlines. Don't set yourself up for failure by being overly ambitious or underestimating the time it will take to complete certain tasks.
Remember, a plan is not set in stone. Be prepared to adapt and adjust your timeline as you go, but always keep your ultimate goal in mind. And if, after a reasonable amount of time, you find yourself consistently missing deadlines and not making progress, it may be time to re-evaluate whether this project is truly something you are passionate about and committed to seeing through.
Step 5 - Prototype Your App
Creating a Minimum Viable Solution should be your top priority. The app should have a minimum set of features that are necessary for it to be usable, without being the most beautiful or sophisticated. It should be just enough for people to give it a try.
Therefore, your app's mockup should also be modest. It should ideally consist of only a few pages and resist the temptation to add numerous features and subpages. While you will add more features and pages in the future, focus on minimizing costs and delivering the simplest possible version of the product for now.
If you've never created mockups before, you can hire a freelancer or use an agency's services. You can also make a mockup yourself with just a piece of paper and a pencil. Nevertheless, it will be easier to demonstrate a customer journey in an interactive way just by using some apps that can help you create mockups quickly and cheaply.
Regardless of your experience with mockups, it's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the best UX practices. Just watch some tutorials from Balsamiq, Uizard or Framer or read about them in blogs like UX Planet or on the websites of renowned companies like Apple.
Remember, mockups are not meant to demonstrate the graphic design of your app. Their sole purpose is to show the general setup and wireframe of an application.
Step 6 - Design and Code
After creating the mockup, it's time to take two steps simultaneously. First, choose the technology you want to build your app with. You can find some advice on programming languages in this helpful article (link). If you're not a developer yourself, consult your technical friends or check out app builders like Appy Pie, Shoutem, or Buildfire.
If you have a limited budget or no budget, consider collaborating with a developer and offering them shares in the project for their work. You can find someone who will take on the development while you handle marketing, sales, or legal aspects of the project. In this case, you can either split the shares equally or calculate the share split based on the number of hours each person devotes to the project.
While looking for a developer, also search for a freelance graphic designer or agency to help with the app's design. You don't need to be proficient in Adobe Photoshop to make a great design. There are many tools available online such as Sketch, Figma, and Flutter (provided by Google for free) or you can try out Desygner. You can also find numerous templates that can help you out if you're on a tight budget.
Remember, modern apps tend to be minimalistic, so you don't need a fancy design. Focus on creating a design that is simple yet visually appealing.
Step 7 - Test, test, test!
It's crucial to test your app thoroughly on every possible device and operating system. Even the most experienced developers know that it's rare for an application to work flawlessly on the first try. That's why testing is critical to the success of your app.
In addition to testing for functionality and performance, it's important to test your app with your target audience. This will help you to gain insights into how users are interacting with your app, and how you can improve the user experience. Keep in mind that your users may use your app in unexpected ways, so it's important to be open to feedback and make changes accordingly.
Don't rush the testing process. Take your time to ensure that your app is ready for release. The last thing you want is to have your users encounter a bunch of bugs and glitches. By testing thoroughly, you'll be able to catch these issues before they become a problem.
Step 8 - Build Your Social Presence
If you want to promote your app on social media or invite people to try it out via email, it's essential to have a platform where potential users can learn more. While you can skip this step if you're only testing your app with a small group, it's crucial for building a user base.
One easy way to start is by creating a simple landing page using website builders like Mailchimp, Unbounce, or Landingi. These platforms offer pre-made templates and drag-and-drop functionality, making it easy to create a professional-looking landing page in minutes.
Another effective approach is to establish a social media presence for your app. Create profiles on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and post regular updates on your app's progress and new features. You can also use social media to engage with potential users and respond to feedback.
Finally, consider creating an explainer video to showcase your app's key features and benefits. While professionally produced videos can be expensive, you can make a simple tutorial video yourself using free tools like Loom or QuickTime. Share the video on your landing page and social media profiles to help users better understand your app's value proposition.
Step 9 - Let your app see the world!
It's time to get your app out to the masses! Start by sending it to your network of friends, family, and acquaintances for testing. Keep an organized Excel spreadsheet to gather their valuable feedback.
When collecting feedback, be sure to ask for their rating of the app on a scale of 1 to 10, ideas for improvement, such as features, design, and loading time, and how much they would be willing to pay for it.
While negative feedback can be difficult to receive, it is crucial for making a successful app. Remember to encourage your users to recommend your app to others if they like it.
If all of this seems overwhelming, don't worry! You can always reach out to us at email@example.com. We have extensive experience in building startups and applications and would love to help you with your project. Our portfolio includes projects we built from scratch as well as those we supported along the way. We're also happy to provide consulting services if you have any questions or concerns.