Experts Reveal How To Turn Your App Idea Into Reality
Having a stellar app idea is just the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. Validating that app idea and turning it into reality – converting it into a fully functional mobile app and ensuring app downloads is a different ball game altogether.
The process of launching a mobile app startup feels pretty straightforward but it involves a number of not to be missed out steps. A lot of action takes place behind the scenes in order to validate the idea and successfully launch the app.
Having helped hundreds of app entrepreneurs in building their apps and scaling their businesses across a range of different industry verticals, we are in a unique position to guide you on your journey of making your app idea into a reality.
1. Define the target audience
Who are you developing your mobile app for?
This is the primary question that needs to be answered before you kick off your journey as an appreneur. Who is the intended beneficiary of the final product that gets developed? If your answer to this question is something as vague as “smartphone users” some introspection into the app idea and its benefits is definitely required.
The app idea that you have brainstormed needs to solve a problem for your targeted audience. You need to have a clear vision of the problem on hand as well as a strategy outlining how your app intends to solve that problem.
Once you have that sorted, the definition of the intended users has to be narrowed down to include only the segments that would potentially benefit from your product. Define demographics such as age, gender, ethnicity etc. The preliminary research in the beginning would finally shape your marketing strategy in future.
2. Conduct thorough market research
What does the competitive scenario for the proposed app look like?
If the app idea that you have conceptualized solves a persistent problem, chances are that there would be other competitors who would also be looking to develop a product similar to yours. Market research involves doing a thorough competitor analysis in order to determine if any enterprise or individuals have already solved the problem, or at least have attempted to do the same.
Competition in the app market is a good sign. It is a clear indication that your app idea is valid. There exists a definite problem and other people are also attempting to solve it. A lot of the super-successful mobile apps available right now did not have the first mover advantage. The biggest example of this is Facebook which came into the market a lot later than Myspace but still managed to rule over the social networking space while the latter is virtually unheard of now.
When it comes to mobile apps, who came first to the market does not matter. What matters is who got the market right for the first time. Market research would just ensure that your app has the advantage over others that already exist as well as the ones that would be developing concurrent to your own mobile app.
In case if a similar product already exists, find out how its reception in the market is. Try and figure out any shortcomings or pitfalls in the app that your iteration can improve upon. While the actual marketing efforts would start at a much later stage, initial market research goes a long way in paving a smooth path for the app’s long term success.
3. Choose the platform and technology to get started
Apple, Android or both?
App development is a resource intensive process and in order to ensure maximum success, it is imperative that you determine the platform you would be developing for before you start with the actual development process.
The target audience you defined in the earlier steps would also help you determine the platform to develop for. If the target customers are primarily iPhone users, it would be a better choice to develop and deploy the app on the Apple App Store whereas if android customers constitute the majority, deploying on the Google Play Store would be a wise decision.
The rules of publishing an app on both these platforms and the charges incurred for the same also vary. Play store has lesser restrictions and entry barriers. The charges are low ($25 as opposed to $99 per year in case of Apple store) and the chances of users discovering your app is higher as well.
The deployment of apps on the App store, on the other hand, is a lot quicker and you get access to a more dedicated user base who are more likely to pay for your app.
You may decide to develop for both iOS and Android platforms simultaneously but that would require hiring two sets of developers and deploying both the apps together which is a highly resource intensive task. A better approach would involve developing a hybrid or a cross platform app that works on both devices. While the performance of the native apps is definitely superior, the amount of resources required for native app development gets halved in case of hybrid apps. The decision that you take would help you in determining the next step in the app development process.
4. Determine your budget
How much does it cost to build an app?
Depending on the range of features and functionality you are looking to incorporate within your app, developing a mobile app can range from thousands of dollars to a few million. It is crucial that you determine the budget for app development right from the start.
Have an estimated figure at hand by factoring in all the elements that contribute to the cost of building an app. Keep an additional budget for any delays and hiccups in the app development process that you may encounter. Don’t invest every penny you own into the development process only.
You need to factor in the additional costs you would accrue on the entrepreneurial journey as well. Set aside some budget for marketing the app before launch and maintaining and updating it post-launch as well.
5. Hire the experts
Who should you hire to build the app?
Unless you are a mobile app developer yourself with all the technical know how, you would need to hire experts to design and develop your app. Even if you hail from a tech background yourself, there is a lot that goes into building a mobile app, prototyping, UI/UX design, coding, testing etc. You cannot do all of the above and focus on the business aspect of the app as well.
Mobile app development is a business and if you intend for it to be successful, hiring an app development company that is focussed on your success, like Arkenea, is the way to go. Putting together the right team to transform your app idea and turn it into a reality is a must. Hiring full-time resources for a one time activity is a costly affair. Outsourcing the work to mobile app development companies lessens the risks associated while keeping the costs low.
Shortlist the companies that you feel best fit their needs, evaluate their portfolios and take the decision to hire them on the basis of one-on-one discussion about your app and how they would go around executing the idea. Make sure you have the potential companies that you shortlist sign an NDA before you discuss your app idea with them.
6. Have the documentation in place – feature list and SRS documents
Once you have finalized the development agency, you need to get started with the documentation. Prepare a feature list that contains the details of all the features that you want incorporated within the mobile app. This list would then serve as a template for all the prototype that is to be developed and would act as a baseline for the UI/UX design.
A software requirements specifications document is another thing you need to have ready while hiring a mobile app development company. The SRS document is basically a blueprint of the software that is to be developed. It provides insights into the specific requirements and sheds light on the role the software developed would play in fulfilling the specifications mentioned. An SRS document template can give you the framework of what points need to be covered and what needs to be included within the document itself.
7. Prototype your app idea
Wireframing the app and developing the app prototype are vital steps in the app development cycle. It can simply be a rough sketch of the final app envisioned by you on a piece of paper or a whiteboard or a more sophisticated iteration involving the use of prototyping tools.
An app prototype is an important tool for validating your app idea and testing out the initial user response. It also plays an important role while pitching the idea to potential investors in the bid to secure funding for your mobile app.
8. Have a monetization strategy in place
If you intend to make money from developing your mobile app (and you should) the monetization strategy needs to be in place well before the actual development and launch of your app. You need to have a clear idea of how you intend to make money with the app.
Decide whether your app would be a free one or would you follow a subscription based model for a paid app. Would your app offer in-app purchases or in-app ads as a part of its monetization strategy. Determining the strategy to ensure return on investments is essential from the get go of the development process.
9. Build an MVP
A minimum viable product (MVP) is the secret to app success. An MVP is basically the first version of your mobile app which consists of all the must have features that are of value to the customers. The nice to have features are added in the later iterations of the mobile app once the proof of concept has been established and the app receives initial adoption.
Launching with a minimum viable product does not mean that you offer a low quality app with substandard user experience. The quality standards for the app remain high as ever. The MVP just focuses solely on the core value offering with the fancy features added in the later versions.
Building the minimum viable product also gives you the option to pivot if the need arises. It saves you valuable time and resources that you would have spent on developing features only to realize later that you don’t really need those. The ability to pivot is crucial for a mobile app startup. Instagram initially started out as a service similar to foursquare that let you check in with pictures at different locations. It was only later that the founders decided to pivot to a picture sharing app after realizing there was greater adoption of the latter.
10. Launch, test, revise
Once your app is developed, it needs to be launched on the play store, app store or both, depending on the platform you have targeted. Just ensuring a stellar app that gives a seamless user experience and solves a problem for your target users isn’t enough. You have to get the word out in the world to ensure downloads.
App store optimization is a must to ensure that the users looking for a mobile application like yours discover it within the app store. Significant marketing efforts are required to ensure that the app reaches its target audience. Use of content marketing and social media marketing to create a buzz around the product and spread the word are the must-dos to ensure that the app launch is successful.
Collect the feedback from the beta users regarding the overall app experience, what changes should be made and what features should you include in the future versions of your mobile app to ensure complete user satisfaction.
The journey from a mobile app idea to a successful app is a thrilling ride, one with the potential to help you reap huge benefits in the long run. Get started on the journey of turning your app idea into reality today and get your app out in the world now.