How to bring your app idea to life
You’ve hit upon the perfect idea for a mobile app. How do you get your flash of inspiration off the drawing board and into the app store?
The app stores are the goldfields of the new millennium, with plenty of hopefuls rushing to grab a shovel but only a few striking it rich — some through good fortune and others through planning and hard work.
So how do you give yourself the best opportunity of striking gold?
Assess the market
Start by taking a step back to make sure you’re digging for gold in the right spot.
A little research now can save you a lot of heartache later. Successful apps meet a need, solve a problem or disrupt a stagnant business model.
Some just meet a need for fun or distraction — there’s no shame in that.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- There are millions of apps out there, so what makes your idea different?
- What’s your value proposition?
- Is there demand for it?
- Which apps are already in this space, and how successful are they?
- What are they doing right and wrong, and why would someone choose your app instead?
Now you can start to hone your idea and map it out, but focus on the core functionality rather than getting distracted by the window dressing.
You might sketch a few layout ideas, but don’t get too hung up on the fine detail of the user interface at this point unless it’s a key component of your idea.
It’s important to approach this assessment process with an open mind and let your idea evolve. Along the way you might come across an untapped niche or discover a way to pivot your idea.
Don’t invest too much time and money into your app idea before you’ve been through this process. Some ideas won’t make it past this stage, but don’t be too disheartened. Think of it as research to help you spot and hone your next great app idea.
Decide whether you to do it yourself or ask for help
Even if you’re sure you’re digging in the right spot, do you know what you’re doing?
Decide whether you have the technical skills to bring your idea to life or whether it’s worth paying someone else to roll up their sleeves and help you dig.
There are plenty of app development tools out there — aimed at both beginners and experts. If you don’t have any experience developing apps or writing code think twice about going it alone, unless you’re prepared to tackle it as a side project and a skills-building exercise.
If you need to move quickly to seize a time-sensitive opportunity it may be worth hiring someone to help fast-track your efforts.
There are plenty of businesses out there prepared to build your app, so choose with care.
Look for a proven track record and speak to previous customers.
Make sure you read the fine print in terms of fees, ownership of the final product, and the process for updating the app over time.
Ask about Non-Disclosure Agreements, but don’t get too hung up on this unless you’re convinced it’s a million-dollar idea or you’re dealing with trade secrets and intellectual property.
Don’t rush in
Don’t shop on price alone, and be wary of developers who want to rush into building your app without asking too many questions. There’s more to app development than just cutting code.
A good developer should offer an assessment phase, offering feedback on the merits of your idea, defining the project and considering the logistics of bringing it to life, including the interface design. Your developer should also discuss the process of beta testing, making revisions, getting your app published and releasing future updates.
Whether you build your own app or hire an expert, watch out for ‘feature creep’, or the temptation to include more bells and whistles in the first release.
Keep it simple; focus on the app’s core functionality and get the basics right so you can get Version 1 out the door.
Rather than missing the opportunity by trying to do too much up front, have a roadmap for future features — but make sure you understand your app developer’s policies around updates and new features.
Like any new business, go in with a plan when you’re bringing your great app ideas to life and you’ll have a better chance of striking gold.