It doesn’t matter if you are a budding entrepreneur or an owner of a booming business, having an app can be a great asset for your company.
There used to be a time when just creating a website for your business was sufficient. In today’s age, if you wish to connect with your audience, having an app is a must. Mobile applications can really boost user engagement and help present your business in a more natural way.
Even if you have a new, innovative idea and want to provide some value to your users, creating an app is just the right strategy.
Before we move forward and show you how the app creation process works, it is important to address this burning question that we hear so often.
Is the App Bubble Really Over?
For the past few years, we have constantly read and heard a certain group of ‘analysts’ depicting a very gloomy state of the app industry.
Just one look at the download and usage stats paints an entirely different picture. The app industry is constantly growing and showing absolutely no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Mobile penetration and usage are increasing, downloads are soaring and users are spending more and more time on their devices. Just take a look around yourself, no matter where you go, you see people glued to their mobile phones.
According to stats, 90% of the time users spend on their mobile phones is spent in mobile apps.
Just take a look at some at the stats from the App Annie Forecast and you will get an idea of how rapidly the app industry is expanding. They report that by 2022, the mobile device install base will reach a massive 6 Billion and the annual mobile app downloads will be at a staggering 258 Billion!
Do Your Research
Spend as much time as possible on research. It is important to know what you are getting into. Try to understand your market, research about the latest app trends, learn about the most cutting edge technologies and try to find out what problems you can solve for potential users.
Researching the top apps and analyse how they are getting things done. By analysing existing products, you might be able to add some more value or offer a totally innovative solution. There is no knowing when your epiphany strikes.
Do not limit your research to a certain field or topic. Cover different fields and areas. Later on connect the dots by revisiting your knowledge and applying what you learned.
This is also a good time to decide if you will build a mobile website, native app or a hybrid app. While having a mobile responsive website may seem like a decent, cost-effective solution, you must delve deeper into the benefits of having an app.
Mobile websites can not cater to complex functionality and lack the ability to deliver an intuitive, user-friendly interface like native apps. Native mobile apps also harness the full potential of the device to deliver powerful solutions.
On the other hand, hybrid apps share a common code base and built using platforms like React Native. While going for a hybrid app means less code, the maintenance of such apps is often troublesome and expensive. The community and development resources are not as readily available as those for native app development. Ultimately, this choice is governed by what kind of app you are going for.
If you want a fast, highly user-friendly app that leverages full device capabilities, then go for a native app.
Executing Your App Idea
If my experience as a founder has taught me anything, it’s that your idea is not unique. If you think you just came up with a brilliant idea then there is a very high possibility that hundreds of other people also have the same idea. The only thing that matters is how you execute that idea!
Do I Really Need a Team?
Yes, you do. Creating a successful app is not a one-person job. This is one of those scenarios where you really need to assemble the whole squad (call in the Justice League or Avengers, whichever one you prefer) to have a real shot at producing something of substance.
This is no joke, but creating a great app does take sweat and blood. Countless hours of dedicated work go into producing something magical. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn shared some great insights regarding this very topic in his book, ‘The Start-up of YOU’.
“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”
He goes on to say, “A team in the business world will tend to perform at the level of the worst individual team member”
Now that we have sorted this out, you might ask, so should I hire an in-house team or outsource my sacred app idea?
Well, there are certainly some known pros and cons of both. Like, hiring an in-house team certainly gives you the advantage of being ‘on top’ of everything but we all know it costs a fortune. Outsourcing may be relatively cheap but there is always the danger of ending up with a team that is ill-equipped to handle such a project. In this case, you end up wasting not only your hard-earned money but also your most valuable resource, time.
So what if there was a solution that offered the best of both worlds? Outsourcing your project to a highly skilled app development team with a proven track record of delivering awesome solutions is the answer.
Tools to Get Started
All professionals have mastered certain tools in their domain. They leverage their power to provide the maximum value. While it is not entirely practical to make a comprehensive list of all such tools, here we will list some of our most widely used tools.
App Annie is a great tool to conduct your research regarding the trends of the app market. You can analyze the market, track competitors and get an estimate of how much they are earning. Sensortower is also a decent research tool. It can also prove useful in optimizing your app.
While you are at it, benefit from the immense resources of Google by taking a look at Google Trends. Another useful tool from the Google arsenal is the Keyword Planner.
Usabilityhub and Usertesting are two great tools to test user behavior without actually writing any code. Such resources can help you in various stages of the development process. From validating your idea to narrowing down features. You get a better understanding of how users think and what their actual pain points are. Helps in creating a very user centric application.
Hard core designers will argue that Sketch is more of a prototyping tool as opposed to being a design tool. They might say something like Adobe Photoshop or the vector-drawing, Adobe Illustrator fits better here but we decided to highlight Sketch for being a super robust and all powerful tool that just lets you get things done smoothly. The sheer beauty of the design is that you just naturally ‘know’ how to perform the task that you want to do.
Sketch is only available for Mac and costs $99.
As we will see in the next section, prototyping is an absolutely vital part of the whole process. One of my personal favorite tools for simple and quick prototyping is Adobe Xd and the best thing is that it is absolutely free. I really liked it because it stays true to being a fast and efficient prototyping tool and does not have any confusing additional features that just get in the way of productivity. Similar to Sketch, it feels natural to use and is powered by the design giant Adobe.
InVision app is also a great prototyping tool which we have come to love. They also recently launched a desktop version of their web based tool in the form of InVision Studio. It comes with a slick interface and tonnes of awesome features. You can easily import your Sketch designs into InVision.
Both Apple and Google have constantly refined their app development tools so that developers can produce better and better apps for their devices. To produce an app for iOS, you will need xcode (along with a Mac). Android apps can be built using Google’s Android Studio.
Getting detailed app analytics will help you stay aware of how users are interacting with the app and achieve a better user experience. Google Analytics serves as the quintessential analytics platform. You can also use App Annie to see usage analytics of your app.
Creating the App
The mobile application industry is extremely fast-paced and competitive. A typical app creation process can take somewhere between 8-12 months but this does not mean that your user gets to try out the app for the very first time after this duration.
Making a Minimum Viable Product is the right way to go about it. Your goal should be to get to the market quickly instead of wasting time. Just make a trimmed down version of the app and start testing it out with actual users.
Without users, your app is useless. So, how do you make an app that people will use? It is only possible by creating quick prototypes and testing them out with users. This rapid prototyping ensures that the app you create is something users love.
A number of different prototyping tools (like the ones mentioned in the previous section), can be used to you mock the actual functionality and flow of the app. Prototyping tools have become really capable and you can easily experiment with different designs, animations and features.
Prototyping is the very heart of the whole app creation process.
How your users interact with the application will ultimately decide it’s fate. A user-friendly application will always be preferred by users. This is where UX (User Experience) comes in. A great UX designer will analyze the app and create an optimal flow for the user. Each and every small detail is perfected to make the app as smooth as possible for the user.
Coding and Databases:
The code is what lies at the heart of an application. A great app developer will use the code to translate your requirements into app features. Following the best coding practices and architecture ensures that your app is secure and scalable.
A database is where you store all the data of your application. The app needs to be connected to a database so that users can access the data from there and perform basic operations like adding or editing data.
Once all the pieces have been fitted together, it is time to release your app to the public. You need to own developer accounts to publish your app. The Google developer account which lets you publish Android apps on the Play Store costs $25. Apple Developer account is expensive and costs $99 yearly. It allows you to make your app available for all Apple devices.
Once you own a developer account, you can upload the app build to the store. Upon approval, the app becomes available for users to download.
You can decide if you want your app to be available for a price or as a free download. A free app does not imply that you can not earn from it. In fact, the majority of the highest-earning apps are available as free apps.
These free apps make money mostly via in-app purchases. Ads area also a popular means to monetize mobile applications. Although a lot of app developers rely on ads but they do get in they way of a fluid user experience.
You must think of a proper app monetization strategy before developing your app. This will help gear the whole process towards your eventual goal.
The Importance of Marketing Your App
With loads of new apps coming every day, it is a highly competitive space. You can not rely entirely on word of mouth to get your app going.
The first step in marketing your app starts with the App Store Optimization (ASO).
ASO (App Store Optimization) is the foremost means of making your app visible in the App Store and Play Store. ASO involves choosing proper metadata, description, images and properly filling out all of the necessary store listing. You should target the keywords that people are searching for the most and make the app as appealing to users as possible.
Users have a very low attention span so it is really important to deliver them an attractive and informative outlook of the app when they first look at the app listing. A well designed logo will serve as a bold first impression of your app. Pay extra attention to getting it just right.
Do keep in mind that App Store Optimization is not just a one time effort. It takes constant experimentation to achieve maximum results.
App maintenance is one of the most neglected parts of app development and often people forget to consider it while making cost estimates.
However, every app needs maintenance to keep it relevant. Once your app goes live and actual users start rolling in, there will be a constant need for bug fixing and improvement based on feedback.
Typically app maintenance per annum can cost around 20% of the development cost.
There are loads of benefits of keeping your app updated. First and foremost, it will help a lot with user retention. Keeping the user hooked to your product is the dream of every founder. The key to attaining the coveted and much-emphasised metric of DAU (Daily Active Users) lies in providing a flawless user experience. Providing new features via updates and staying relevant with the trends certainly helps.
Make use of user feedback to improve your app. Use both quantitative data (like app analytics) and qualitative data (user surveys, interviews and reviews) for this purpose. Make note of the frustration points of your users and try to resolve them. With new mobile phones and tablets launching regularly, your old designs might not work so great on the latest devices.
Your app will also need updates to make it more secure and to cater for any changing licenses and compliance requirements. The recent push towards GDPR is a great case in point. Negligence of such compliance can result in huge fines for you.
Make sure you don’t make the mistake of neglecting app maintenance. After all the effort of getting an app created, now it deserves some nourishment and care to grow. Treat it like your baby and help it grow!
Creating an app is an exciting adventure. Whoever said, “It’s not the destination, It’s the journey” definitely hasn’t experienced the wondrous rush of creating an app.
For app development, the journey is definitely worth it but the destination is even more rewarding. So make sure you choose someone who knows how to help you make the most out of this journey and enables you to achieve the most outstanding results
business app users -DepositPhotos