Got an amazing idea for a new app?
Join the club – at least 27% of small businesses are currently working on a new app. This means that, in order for yours to properly stand out from the crowd, you need to do things right.
Here are 13 things you need to keep in mind before you get started:
Research Your Competition
This applies to just about everything you do with your business – it always pays to stay in-the-know when it comes to your competitors.
Chances are that you’ve got a few competitors out there who already have their own app, so spend some time using these to ensure that you can make yours so much better.
A few questions to ask yourself include:
- How is your idea better than what’s already out there?
- What can you learn from the reviews of competitor apps?
- How do you plan on out-performing your competition with your app?
Put Together a Good Team
There are a lot of different parts that come together to make an app, so unless you’re 100% confident in your technical and graphic skills, you’ll need to gather together a good team.
An app developer is a must, and they should ideally be someone who lives and breathes code. A graphic designer is key too, as is someone who can take control of sound and music.
Tempted to use online resources to create your app yourself?
This is definitely possible, but your app won’t be quite as professional or sleek as one that has been professionally-developed. If you really want to stand out from your competition, you need a good team.
While out-sourcing this work to remote companies is always an option, it can sometimes help to work with local experts – nothing quite beats a face-to-face meeting for ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Don’t worry if you don’t have a suitable office for this yet – the conference rooms at Circle Hub, or even the co-working spaces, are great for a brainstorming session.
Keep Things Simple and User-Friendly
Your initial idea may be quite complex, but it’s important to keep things simple when creating your first app. You want each user to immediately understand exactly what the app is for, and ideally that purpose will be enough to convince them to download it.
A user-friendly app is vital as well – most people download apps to simplify their lives in some way, meaning that your app should do this too. Nobody wants to use an app that’s going to end up being hard work, so keep the user experience at the forefront of the development process.
The actual design of your app needs to be simple and user-friendly too…
Design your app as though a newbie is going to be using it – not just a newbie to the app, but a newbie to smartphones or tablets in general. Keep menus large and easy to find, and make sure that buttons are the right size too – a user should only have to press a button once. A button diameter of between 7 to 10 millimeters is usually recommended.
Choose a Good Name
There’s no point spending countless hours and dollars developing an amazing app, only for users to avoid downloading it because of its name.
The name of your app will be what first attracts people to it – users often even download a new app simply based on the name alone.
How do you choose a good name?
Here are a few tips:
- Make sure that it’s unique and catchy
- Choose something different from your competition
- Pick a name that reflects the purpose of the app
- Make sure that the name is easy to spell and pronounce
Scalability isn’t something that first-time app developers really think about, but this is something that could fuel your idea on for several years, long after your app has launched.
Scalability simply means being able to scale your idea up or down. For example, an app that has the potential to launch sequels, or one that could be turned into a computer program or a game, gives you the opportunity for growth in the future.
App Features Will Need to Be Prioritized
You probably have numerous ideas when it comes to the different features that you want your app to have, but prioritizing these is essential. Not only will it be extremely costly to stuff your app with hundreds of different features, but this will also over-complicate the user-experience.
There will always be some must-have features that your app simply cannot function without, but when it comes to the rest of them, ask yourself the following questions:
- How often is this feature going to be used?
- How many people will actually make use of this feature?
- Does this feature provide value to the user?
- Is this feature risky in any way?
Even if your idea is pretty multi-faceted, it’s always best to try to focus on just one main thing with your first app – something that truly provides value. After this, you can expand from there.
Provide an Offline Experience
Some apps will only fully work when a user is connected to the internet, but, ideally, you want your app to provide a good offline experience too.
This is something that will need to be considered in the design stage – an app that works seamlessly both offline and online is one that users will stick with in the long-term. If you think of all of the major apps out there, from Google Docs to Asana to Evernote, these will all work perfectly even if the user isn’t connected to WiFi – your app needs to do the same.
Decide How Many Platforms to Design For
This is a tricky one, because designing for multiple platforms will take a massive chunk out of your budget. It will also take more time to get your app ready for launch, unless you happen to have a large team.
Most small businesses create an iOS app to begin with, before branching out into other platforms if their app is showing signs of success.
Because there are really only two main devices that use iOS – the iPhone and the iPad. This really simplifies the design process.
Once you start moving into Android, and then Windows, and then anything else that’s proving popular at the time, things start to get much more complicated.
Of course, the best way to reach the largest audience is by launching on multiple platforms, so this is a decision that really needs to be considered carefully.
Don’t Underestimate the Testing Phase
You don’t want to put your app out there until it’s perfect, which is why the testing phase is so important. This is something that can take quite a bit of time, and although many small businesses often rush this process, this is usually to their detriment.
It isn’t enough for just you and your team to test the app out yourself, even if you plan on doing so on multiple devices. Your app is something that you’ve been working on for months, if not years, so you’re going to be attached to it in a way that you don’t even realize, making it important to form an objective opinion.
Ideally, you need real people who have had absolutely nothing to do with the app’s development to be your beta testers. This has a number of advantages, such as:
- Using your app in a variety of different environments
- Customizing the app in their own individual way
- Combining your app with others that they use
The feedback you get from those users will give you the information you need to get your app ready for the general public.
Create a Good Marketing Strategy
For some, marketing an app begins at the same time as development, meaning that you need to come up with a good marketing strategy early on in the game.
This will play such a significant role in how successful your app is. Even if you don’t have much competition, good marketing will still make a wider audience aware that your app even exists. On the other hand, if competition is rife, then you need a good marketing strategy to shine.
A few marketing tactics that work well for new apps are:
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Niche forums
- Awareness events
Marketing is a huge topic in itself – if this isn’t something that you have the time to really get involved in, then it’s worth hiring a marketing expert to manage this side of things for you. However, it’s still important to keep yourself in-the-loop with all that’s happening when it come sto marketing your new app – you don’t want your app to end up suffering at launch time due to poor marketing.
Provide Both Free and Paid Versions
It goes without saying that you want to be able to make a profit from your app, but offering users a free version is always a good idea.
Because it is the fastest way of developing a solid user base. Think about it – wouldn’t you be so much more likely to pay for an app, or to pay for specific features, if you already know that you like the app?
You can either launch both versions at the same time, or begin with the free before launching the premium. Another option would be to keep your app free to download and use, but add in certain features that users will then have to pay for.
Some apps are also free for infrequent use, but then require payment once they are being used extensively. At this point, most people are happy to spend their money on the app, since they’ve had plenty of time to see its benefits in real-life situations.
Frequent App Maintenance is a Must
Think that you’re done with your app once you’ve developed and launched it?
Whether it be errors, bugs, or anything else, 80% of app users are likely to give up on your app if it doesn’t function well the first couple of times. Unless you have a truly unique app with zero competitors, then new users won’t have the patience to keep trying.
This means that consistent maintenance is needed to ensure that your app is performing flawlessly. It should never crash, and bugs should be fixed as soon as possible.
Of course, there will always be errors that occur that aren’t your fault, but all others need to be dealt with swiftly. Don’t forget that any errors that happen while your app is being reviewed by whichever app store you have submitted it to will likely cause them to immediately reject your app.
Offer Regular Upgrades
The tech world is constantly evolving, and this means that your app needs to be doing the same. New technology and trends will always be coming out, so make the most of this if you really want to propel your app forward.
A good way to do this is by regularly adding new features. This will help to keep users engaged, while creating a good buzz around your app to encourage more downloads. You will also likely find that you have many more mentions on social media, as people take to these networks to share their feedback and opinions on various app upgrades.
As mentioned earlier, keep things simple to begin with, so that you have the opportunity to add in different features as time goes on.
Creating an app is an extremely long and tiring journey, especially when it comes to your very first app. However, so long as you have a solid idea and keep all of these tips in mind, things should start to fall into place well, making you a strong contender on all of those app stores!