So you have an idea for a great app but don’t know how to make it a reality. This guide goes through the initial steps in bringing your app idea to fruition, including links to in-depth articles on forming a team, estimating costs, and raising funding for early stage ventures.
Research Your Market
Start by thinking about your app’s placement in app stores. In which categories will your app appear? What kind of competition will you face? What is the thing that will set your app apart from the others? Answering these questions will kick off the first steps to refining your app idea. App Savvy, written by our very own Ken Yarmosh, goes into detail about these critical first questions and offers suggestions on how to approach your research.
One way to research your market is to identify keywords you could use to describe your app. Use these keywords to pick out your top competitors. By checking out your competitors’ listings you can learn what your users may expect from your app. Check out competitor ratings/reviews and play around with their apps to get an idea of where they fall short. Use this research to identify which pain points and problems you can solve for users. Aim to replicate the successes seen by similar apps while offering something more to attract and retain users
Define Your App
You need to nail down the purpose of your app, its targeted users, and how it exists within your company's existing brand or the image you want to present with your startup. At Savvy Apps our app discovery process covers your business, your audience, your brand story, and your vision. It helps us learn as much about our customers and their users as possible
The questions found in our customer questionnaire could serve as the reasoning behind your app's overall design as well as detailed elements like: type, color, lines, tone, voice, feeling, harmony, balance, rhythm, emphasis, illustration style, photography, concept of space/area, white space, and more. They serve as a jumping off point for a more detailed discussion about the app's design
Decide Which Platform to Target
Our general advice is to start with the iOS platform first because of the difference in demographics, cost, and speed to market seen with iOS apps as opposed to Android apps. Generally, iOS users are more affluent and spend more money per app, while iOS apps are often faster to build and less expensive than Android apps.
Android first makes sense if your target audience is squarely focused on Android, especially in developing nations or certain segments of urban environments. It also makes sense when you’re tapping into or customizing an element of Android’s operating system that’s not accessible on iOS, when you may need to select the hardware itself that the app needs to run on, or when you want full control over all hardware and software elements (these two items combined). Read more about the benefits and downsides to both platforms here
Give Your App a Name
Once you have an idea of the basic foundations of your app, as well as who’s going to help you create and ship it, it’s time to decide on an app name. Naming an app—or a business—is not simple task. An app’s name, paired with the icon, is the first interaction a user has with your app. It is your app’s first chance to make the right impression. This guide steps you through the process of brainstorming and choosing a name for your app.
Having a name, a domain name, at least a placeholder landing page, and a logo go a long way to showing that you’re serious about your app. It will help you in later steps, particularly the quest for funding
Estimate How Much Your App Will Cost
The average v1.0 app can cost anywhere between $90,000 to $210,000. That’s with the average 4-6 month-long build time. Keep in mind that complex app features can take longer to build, increasing the overall cost of the app. Apps that are built for a smartphone and tablet, that have a complex user interface, or that require a significant backend can cost anywhere from $250,000 to $1,500,000.
This post breaks down the cost issue and examines the price tag attached to dealing with freelancers, mid-size agencies, and the big boys of app development
Build Your Team
The first step in forming an app team is conducting an inventory of your resources. What skills do you have as a CEO? Do you have a co-founder with technical skills? Building an app requires much more than development. For those of you who are just getting started, your team should reflect the development, design, project management, and marketing skills of a mobile startup. Check out this post to learn what core skills are needed in an app team, where to find potential candidates, and how to evaluate them.
Not too keen on building your own team from scratch? The right approach can vary based on a person’s or company’s background, experience, and the resources at their disposal. This article goes into several reasons contracting an app team might be best for your needs. Sometimes the most cost-effective and smart choice is to contract with a full service app agency to get expert help defining the scope and features of your app, naming, raising funds, everything associated with building a business around an app
Reach Out to Investors for Funding
Early stage ventures should look to investors for funding as it helps companies build features for their apps faster, have more budget for marketing, and generally provides a longer runway to test ideas and find their product to market fit.
Almost any early venture is going to be targeting a seed (or pre-seed) round. A seed stage investment generally means that your company is in the pre-revenue portion of its existence and probably doesn’t have an app. The range of investments do vary because of this “pre-seed” round, but you can expect this type of raise to be anywhere from $200,000 to upwards of $1.5 million. The best way to start conversations with potential investors is to get someone to make an intro for you. We talk about this more in detail here.
When we work with customers, we do much more than just design and develop their app. From day one we’re thinking about positioning, assisting them with raising venture capital (when applicable), creating app-focused websites, and even populating customer support knowledge bases. There are very few apps that will go on to be successful without a more holistic business approach
Market Your App
Your marketing efforts should start the moment you begin working on your app. Think of your marketing timeline as a crescendo. Your marketing investment starts soft at the beginning, continues to build, and eventually peaks with its arrival in the app stores. Seek out potential customers as early on in the app creation process as possible. These should be real app users who can provide quality feedback and eventually become the champions of your app. Great ways to reach out to customers include Twitter, email and blogging. Click here to read more about what you need to do for a successful pre-launch marketing strategy
In some cases, a full-service app agency like Savvy Apps can use their experience to help you nail down the details of your app, identify your place in the market, raise investor funding, and provide further guidance. As you can see, there are a lot of steps to creating an app before development gets underway. The attention given to these steps can determine your and your app's success in the app stores.
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