The world is full of new apps to handle just about every task you can imagine. If you can dream it, it probably already exists.
I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but your app startup is one of the many that will launch in the same month, week, or even day that you go live.
That said, it’s still entirely possible to create an exciting new concept that functions well, stands out from the crowd, and delivers something that its users find extremely valuable. There are plenty of new apps that have achieved great success amongst the seemingly endless sea of competitors.
What do those apps have in common?
For one thing, they have a proper plan in place before they get anywhere near the development process, and that’s what this article is all about.
I’m going to give you an outline for developing your own app startup plan utilizing 8 simple(ish) questions.
- Will You Learn to Code, Hire a Freelance App Developer, or an App Development Team?
- Will You Build a Native App, Hybrid App, or Web App?
- How Will You Test Your Idea?
- How Will You Determine Your Audience/Ideal User Persona?
- How Will Your App Stand Out/Provide Value Above What’s Already Available?
- How Will You Market/Grow Your User Base?
- How Will You Monetize Your App?
- How Will You Test and Optimize Your App After It’s Launched?
These questions, when answered will give you a clear understanding of the processes involved in creating a successful app, and help you to identify any weak points to your existing plan.
Now, let’s see about those questions…
1. Will You Learn to Code, Hire a Freelance App Developer, or an App Development Team?
This first question will have a major influence on your entire development process. If your app startup is short on funding, you may be thinking about learning to code. If that’s the case, you can put the rest of your process on hold until you’ve mastered mobile app development. It’s a major investment of time to learn everything you’ll need to create a quality app. If you already know how (like, really know how) to code, you can skip to the next question.
If you don’t understand coding and your app startup will rely on an outside source for the development process, you have two options. The first is a freelancer, or solo app developer, which can be a good choice if your budget is still a bit tight. They’ll be able to help you get a good concept launched, but there may be some issues with testing, optimization, and overall quality. They’re a one-man (or woman) band, what do you expect?
If you are not restricted by a tight budget, an app development team is the way to go. The cumulative expertise of the team will undoubtedly turn out a better result, and the post-launch support will be incredibly helpful, especially if you’re relatively inexperienced in the field. An app development team will give you a big leg up to launching a successful app startup.
2. Will You Build a Native App, Hybrid App, or Web App?
Another important decision to make before your app startup reaches the development process is what type of app you’ll be building. If you’re just looking to bring your website into the world of mobile functionality, a web app will work fine for you, but as an app startup, you’re probably looking for the real deal.
If that’s the case, you’re left to choose between a native app and a hybrid. If you have the extra money and time budgeted for your app startup, I highly recommend developing native apps (or at least selecting Android vs. iOS) and developing a single app to get started. Native apps allow the developer to create the ultimate functionality, design, and overall user experience.
If time and budget are a little on the shorter side, you can still get away with a hybrid app that can do most of what a native app will. The development process will take less time because the code can be transferred between platforms (iOS and Android) far more easily.
I’ve recently created a guide to the differences between a web app, native app, and hybrid app, so take a look for a great resource that will help you make this important decision.
3. How Will You Test Your Idea?
Before you get any further into your app startup development process, how do you know your app idea is a good one? I’d recommend taking a long hard look at your concept and getting feedback from a variety of sources before going any further.
Who represents your ideal user? Where does your audience hang out? Can you find a way to interact with them in person or online? If your ideal users are college students leaving home for the first time, can you set up a concept-testing session where you exchange feedback about your ideas for pizza and beer?
Have you spoken to a professional about your concept? App development teams see all kinds of good (and not so good) app ideas and, they’ll be able to help you refine your concept.
My point is to get some feedback that reaches beyond your circle of peers, preferably from a segment of the population that represents your ideal user. Be creative and find a way to get their advice.
4. How Will You Determine Your Audience/Ideal User Persona?
Speaking of ideal users, how are you going to go about creating an ideal user persona? Every app startup should have a clearly identified target market and be able to create ideal user personas that represent them.
- What kind of app are you creating?
- What kind of people will use it?
- How will that affect the user interface?
- How will you go about marketing it to them?
For instance, if you’re developing an app that teaches young people how to live on their own for the first time with tutorials, guides, and geolocation of important places, your ideal buyer persona will be built around a 17- to 22-year-old who knows very little about fending for themselves. From there, you’ll be able to identify the outstanding aspects of your future users and compile them into a profile that paints a clear picture of who your app is intended for.
Put a solid plan in place. Consider how you’ll make sure your app suits the needs of your ideal users. If your ideal users are part of an older generation, your app functionality will be much different than that of an app developed for teens, or children for that matter.
5. How Will Your App Stand Out/Provide Value Above What’s Already Available?
This question is huge! If you’ve vetted your concept and identified your ideal user, the next step is to identify your competition. Your app startup will probably be one of many that perform the same essential functions.
The problem is that they’re already established, and you’ll have a tough time gaining any traction if you’re just another app doing the same things everyone else already does. Your app has to do something new and different, or represent a dramatic improvement of an existing app idea. Head to each app marketplace and download your competitor’s apps, then ask yourself:
- What do you love about the competition’s functionality, design, layout, etc.? How can you incorporate your favorite features of each competitive app into your own seamless interface?
- What pain points do you experience when using competitors’ apps? How can you improve on the functionalities of their apps and avoid frustrating your users?
6. How Will You Market/Grow Your User Base?
You currently have 2 key marketplaces (AppStore and Google Play) to launch your app, each giving you the benefit of massive exposure to millions of potential users. The problem is that you have to show each of these marketplaces that people like your app so that it will organically rank in their internal search engines.
That’s when it’s time to consider how you get the ball rolling.
- Will you use paid advertising within other apps, on social media, or AdWords?
- Will you develop an inbound sales funnel that draws potential downloaders to your site/app?
Considering the growth of the app industry, there will always be new ways to market your app. The important thing is that you have a marketing plan in place for your app startup before you set off.
7. How Will You Monetize Your App?
As an app startup, you’re entering the world of app development as part of a business venture; one that you likely plan to monetize someday. Have you considered how you’ll do that?
The most valuable and successful apps are those with a large, loyal user base that engages with them frequently. If you have the promotional budget, time, and skill to grow your app to achieve download numbers in the millions, you may be able to monetize your app in a way that goes beyond ads and cost to download. You may even be able to sell it for a considerable sum, but if not, traditional alternatives still exist.
If you plan to advertise on your app, how do you intend to do so? Ad networks? Private ads? How will you keep your users from ad overload and ensure their continued engagement?
If you plan to charge per download, how do you intend to get those downloads? A free version? A trial period? Will there be a subscription service associated with your app?
8. How Will You Test and Optimize Your App After It’s Launched?
How you choose to develop your app will play a big role in the answering of this question. Most good agencies or design teams will handle most of the optimization and troubleshooting for you.
If you have to do it yourself, it’s important to remember that you can't be your only tester. You’ll need as many people as possible running every user action pathway possible to ensure a seamless, intuitive, and engaging user experience.
You’ll also want to include app analytics to fine tune your user experience. This type of software allows you to track various metrics (user engagement, etc.) around your app and determine how small changes affect them. This kind of optimizations is imperative!
You’re Nearly There
You’re so close to getting started with the development of your app idea. Now it’s time to put your game plan in place. Create a clear picture of how the entire app development process will go and your app startup will have a dramatically improved chance of success.
If you have questions, need advice, or just want to talk shop, be sure to reach out. We’re here to help answer any questions you may have. We love what we do, and we want to help you do the same.