About the author: Douglas Finley is a tech entrepreneur who is always building. SocialChomp and Starline Ventures take up most of his time. Follow him on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/
Understanding your design, implementation, marketing, and financial strategy is critical to your success.
If you have some design chops, you can design the app yourself. The logo and color scheme will set the tone of the app experience. An app developer with an eye for design will ensure your user interface is sharp. Depending on your idea, you may need a backend engineer but for your first MVP (Minimum Viable Product) suggest using APIs to minimize the need of a real backend engineer. While the app is being built, focus on the language of the buttons, text, graphics, and any other content users will be reading. A/B testing and user feedback groups can help prepare you for real users without worrying about backlash or embarrassment. Language is an important piece of the user experience. Information from A/B test and test users should flow smoothly between the design team and engineering team.
Choosing the correct language/libraries/sdk, devices, and development tools will be core decisions for the engineering team. Timelines and experience of the development team will factor into the decision. For example, the team may decide this app should be an iPhone only app to begin with…which means the app should be built using Objective-C and the Apple stack. If the decision was to launch for both Android and iPhone, the Xamarin C# stack will cut development time significantly…assuming your team can program in C#. The company decision could also be to launch iPhone, Android, and Web simultaneously…a web development with an expertise in mobile web development could handle the MVP. A wrapper sdk would turn the mobile web app into a native app until the full native apps are ready. In some cases (except highly visual and location based apps), a mobile web app with a wrapper for native apps is the most cost efficient.
Your app is being built and almost ready to launch. You have a good understanding of the purpose and target audience. You also have done research on any competitors to glean insights from their experience. It’s time to start developing partnerships, ads, and the marketing strategy to tell the world about your app. You can start with a PR campaign to gauge interest with journalist willing to publish an article about your app. Facebook, Twitter, and Google allow you to pay for users to install your app. Your friends and family are great resources for your first users. Content Marketing is a free to start telling the world about your new app. Can you create any cool infographics or 60 second videos (walkthrus, teasers, testimonials, etc). Sponsored placements with Youtube and Instagram stars is a popular way to generate buzz, as well. You want to be clear that your app is in Beta. Running contests and giveaways for users to give you feedback on your app is a good way to fine tune any nuances during Beta. The length of the beta stage can depend on many factors including your vision for the company (it may change), traction, funds, etc.
The budget will be the most important factor in every decision. It will be the job of the project manager and lead designer/engineer to make sure the app is executed successfully under budget. You always want to give yourself a little wiggle room when it comes to the budget because surprises can pop up! Save as much money as possible, even a consumer app with a small team over 6 months can eat through $30,000. The majority of your cost will go to engineers, designers, and marketing (ad budget). Creatively minimizing those costs or delaying until you can get investors will give your app more runway to grow. Investors are a fickle bunch and rightfully so. They see hundreds sometimes thousands of ideas a year…so you want to be able to successfully launch an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) or POC (Proof of Concept) without them. In-App purchases for upgrades and integrated ad solutions can provide some revenue
5. Have Fun & Relax
Building technology is stressful! Your trying to develop a piece of technology that was to be well designed, intuitive, “sticky”, and cost efficient. They payday is not always clear. Unlike a bakery, where your first customers/users actually pay you cold hard cash…your first users probably expect to pay you nothing forever. You should be honored they even downloaded your app in the first place. Bug, server crashes, & strange customer support issues are all apart of what you signed up for…if you want to launch your first app because you think it is going to make you rich…STOP RIGHT NOW. The chances of your first app making you rich is slimmer than an iPad Air. Build something that is fun, useful, saves people’s time, or brightens up someone’s day and you will have a great foundation to build revenue.