So, you have an app idea. What do you do now?
Some people do a quick Google search, see something relatively similar, and give up. Others research the process that creating an app entails, realize it’s not as easy as it sounds, and — again — give up. So, since you’re already this far, congratulations on being farther along in the process than most. We’re here to help get you off the ground.
Step 1: Get the Lay of the Land
The first thing that should be on your radar is, if you haven’t already, to hit the ground Googlin’. Over 1,000 new apps hit the App Store each and every day. So, odds are there is something relatively similar already out there. If not, then you’re in luck. And if so, that’s not a dealbreaker either. It’s all about the execution, and if you can execute on that concept better than the last person, then you’ll still be ahead in the game.
Think about it this way: Facebook wasn’t the first social network. Friendster and Myspace came before it. But, which platform do you use today?
So, rather than worrying about if there is anyone else doing what you want to do, think about how you can improve on those existing apps. Learn from them and see which features people like and which ones they don’t.
Step 2: Brainstorm Full Functionality and Specs
You know your competitors and what is already out there. You can now bring that back to the drawing board and think about exactly what your app will do. What functionality will it have?
Many first-time entrepreneurs go crazy here. They come out the other side of this step with a 30-page document explaining all of their product’s nice-to-have’s. Although this is tempting, maintain some discipline here!
Focus on your Minimum Viable Product. What are the core features that will make your app stand out? It should do just a few things, and do them very well. We preach to our clients (perhaps counter-intuitively for an app development company) to have as simple of a “V1” as possible; this lets our clients release their app, gather feedback, and pivot as necessary.
This is called a “Specifications Document,” and is the best way to portray your idea to any app designers or developers that you may be working with in the future. That’s why it’s best to get this stuff written down now in advance prior to moving forward!
Step 3: Understand your Development Options
You know your competitors. You know what your app will do. Now, it’s time to figure out how this thing will be built.
Is it something that is simple, like an app that will help your restaurant put its menu on an app? Or is it a simple data app that shows text to users within certain pages? If so, an out-of-the-box app builder platform is definitely your best bet. There are many, many options out there that let you create simple “canned functionality” apps for a minimal cost, like:
What happens if your app needs more than the limited amount of features that an app builder like these can provide? As an example, when SnapChat first came out, there wasn’t a templated “app builder” that could make photos disappear. This requires custom coding, where a development shop like Designli is needed. If your app needs custom functionality, it’s time to start thinking about how the full app development process works.
First and foremost, pursuing the paid app development course will require a budget. Apps typically start at $10,000, depending on the company that you’ll hire to develop your idea (and their location), and work their way up from there. Do you have access to capital to invest in your new business? If not, it may be time to start thinking about raising some money from friends and family or entering a business plan competition that will give you a cash prize if you bring home the win.
Some agencies that develop apps for startups and entrepreneurs ease the pain of raising investment and getting others to “buy in” to your brilliant idea by providing services that can help.
One thing you may notice right away is that it’s hard to convince others to give you money in order to build your app. It’s even harder if you are a first-time entrepreneur and have nothing to show potential investors other than a few written paragraphs describing your idea. You may (and should) have a business plan, or at the very least a Specification Document as outlined in Step 2 above.
This challenge may be dealt with by taking advantage of a fixed-price Graphic Design package. This means an agency will take your Specification Document and wireframe out — and complete the entire design for — every screen of your app. At the conclusion of this package, you’ll know exactly what every screen of your app will look like and what features it will have. You’ll also have a click-through prototype showing exactly how the app will work. Put this on a potential investor’s phone and they’ll think you’re already halfway to the finish line. They’ll have no problem understanding what your app will do and how it’ll do it.
Step 4 and Beyond: Development!
Now that you have your app designed and your functionality written both in plain English and displayed visually, there’ll be no confusion when it comes time to develop the app. Now’s the time to shop for a development team. How do you do that, you ask? There are tens of thousands of app development companies after all.
This is a conversation for another day, and a lengthy one at that. In the meantime, you have your marching orders — let’s get your functionality solidified and a decision made as far as paths for design and development.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any assistance!