5 steps for developing your app idea.
- Do some research
- Write your Elevator Pitch
- Draw your first Mockups
- Build a team
- Create a first prototype
1. Do your research
What does it do? What customer need will this app address? Be specific, there is no “one app to rule them all”. Every successful app serves one specific purpose; any additional functionality revolves around that one purpose. The one people will love and makes them open and re-open your app, the one you talk to your friends about, and the feature you can’t live without.
Once you’ve defined its purpose should be able to determine which market category it falls into (productivity app, professional tool, social media, etc.). This needs to be clear to you so that you may communicate clearly and concisely about your app.
Knowing what your app does will help you determine who your target customer is. Who is going to use the App? Everyone? Most likely your app will have a specific demographic that it appeals to. Try to understand who this is and why.
The next thing to do is some research. Does your app already exist? Just google it. So “Yes”, “no”, “sort of”… If the answer is yes, how good has this app been implemented? Building a second Whatsapp might be tough. But if it’s badly done, there is still potential! If the answer is sort of, then you need to ask yourself what does my app do better than this other app?
If you are going to compete in the marketplace with existing apps that have an established user base, you will need a unique differentiator. One key benefit that your app offers which others do not. Take time and really think what value your app brings to the customer, compared to your competition.
If we take AirBnb as an example; house/flat renting between individuals has existed for ages on the Internet through classified sites like Craigslist. AirBnb gave people a robust platform to rent out rooms in their home or apartment by the night. The next piece of the puzzle is that they offered a free service to their hosts to come and take professional photographs of their home for use on their listing. Having great pictures skyrocketed the bookings.
2. Write your Elevator Pitch
Now that we know more about the existing competition and how it is going to be different, let’s fill-up the following Elevator Pitch.
Finding a cool name is a fun exercise. It’s not 100% necessary to have a name that describes what the app does. In fact, many apps have names that have absolutely nothing to do with what the app does (like Uber), and that can be a good thing. The important thing is that people remember it!
3. Draw your first Mockups
Draw how you imagine your app will look like. Don’t get complicated here; pen and paper will do the trick. We are strong believers that true design makes a difference, we actually just launched a new branding offer for digital products; but not at this point). For inspiration you can look at your favorite apps, what makes their user experience delightful? Above all, keep it simple.
I like to use Pinterest to get inspiration. Show your draft to your friends, your relatives, your mates, at work, at the bar, etc. Don’t go uniquely with your friends and family for feedback. Of course they would like it, they’re your friends and family! Draft, draw, throw, redraw, take time to think, breath, iterate again with the feedback you get until you have this feeling: ”This is it!”. If you are really (really) bad at drawing, you can use printed components or stencils to start: http://www.uistencils.com/collections/ios
4. Build a team
There are only 24 hours in a day and probably you will need some rest too. Launching an app requires a broad skillset (design, coding, product development, sales, etc.). Some things you can outsource, but the more you do in house the less it will cost. Find people who compliment your personal skillset to complete the puzzle. The strength of Apptitude for example, well we build apps for people like you, is the great mix of skills and personalities. Apart from skills and time, you may also need a network.
Never underestimate how a well-connected network can speed-up things, facilitate closing bigger contracts or simply find the right people. At this stage, money should not be in the equation but I personally recommend having people that are able to put money in your project.
Two simple reasons: 1. Money engages more than anything else. 2. Asking for such commitment milks non-serious candidates.
5. Create a first prototype
Make a working prototype. You can create an interactive prototype (using www.proto.io or Axure) or even code some HTML/CSS on your own. It is an important step to validate your first assumptions and a strong base for Specifications.
– OR –
Write Specifications. If you choose to go with a Web Agency who builds mobile apps to shrink the development time or simply make sure that professionals do the job, you can start writing some specs for your Minimal Viable Product (MVP). The simplest product to start tomorrow. Imagine you’re starting a Lemon stand business; you will need: lemons, bottles, water and a table. That’s it! Let’s do it!
Btw: Our next blog post will help you for the step 5: “How to write good and efficient Specifications for developers?”
And make sure to check out the design inspirations from our Brand Designer Selim…
Hey there! This is Axel from Apptitude, here’s a personal note from my side: There is definitely great potential in your idea! No matter at what stage your app idea is, just come by and have a coffee with us if you’d like to brainstorm and get some feedback (it’s free!). Here at Apptitude we see hundreds of apps every week, and would be happy to give you some insider tipps on how to take the next step. Just send us an email and drop by in our Office at EPFL Lausanne!
- Mockups: physical or digital sketches of the user interface. Wireframes define the structure and usually do not involve any style or colors.
- USP: Unique Selling Proposition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unique_selling_proposition
- Killer App: “a killer application (commonly shortened to killer app) is any computer program that is so necessary or desirable that it proves the core value of some larger technology” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_application
- MVP: Minimal Viable Product
- Interactive prototype: interactive (touchable or animated) set of screens without logic or working data behind.
- Proto.IO: Create fully-interactive high-fidelity prototypes that look and work exactly like your app should. No coding required. Free 1 project. https://proto.io/
- How much to make an App: Easily calculate the cost of a mobile application using this handy tool. http://howmuchtomakeanapp.com/
- CrunchBase: The tech ventures database. Discover innovative companies and the people behind them. https://www.crunchbase.com/#/home/index
- Build your first Android App: https://developer.android.com/training/basics/firstapp/index.html?hl=p
- Developing iOS 8 Apps with Swift by Stanford’s School of Engineering: https://itunes.apple.com/us/course/developing-ios-8-apps-swift/id961180099
- Shark Tank: Elevator Pitch – TV Show (US). http://abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank