Everyone has an idea for an app.
Be it a new game, utility, or app that will disrupt an entire industry, everyone has a million-dollar app idea. But what does it actually take for an app idea to become reality? Here’s a few things you need to consider
Functionality and Originality
An app needs more than a vague idea. What will your app actually do? Think of the end user experience. Outline what services it will provide, and what it will look like. Before you even start thinking about development, you need to define exactly what your app is and what category it will fall under in the App Store and Google Play.
The best apps either solve a problem or improve on an existing solution. They create value by providing a service that people want and are willing pay for.
Before you hit the drawing board, make sure that your idea isn’t already taken. Both the App Store and Google Play store are dense markets, meaning that there’s a very good chance your idea has been attempted once before. Comb the web to find out who your competition is and make sure you aren’t invading a crowded territory.
Your app needs a brand, a catchy name, and a target demographic. It needs to be promoted and visible. If no one can find it, how will it sell? Look for consistent branding and the right advertising. Word of mouth can work if your product is novel enough, but online and mobile ads are also important. The most successful apps have a huge base of potential users to advertise to, so your app shouldn’t be too dependent on one group of buyers. Think of ways that you might attract new users and keep existing ones interested.
Technical Details and the Dream Team
App development is complicated. “What features is your app going to have, and how will they work? Is your app going to be standalone, or work with backend servers? Hybrid or native?” These technical details are hard to figure out on your own, so look for a developer or consultant who can help you hammer out a viable list of services that are within your budget.
Unless you’re an expert engineer yourself, you’re also going to need someone to develop your app. A good development firm can be the difference between a hit app and a costly flop. You need a team that can write quality code, efficiently, and at a competitive price. Ideally, a dev team will also work with you to define your app, communicate progress, plan for success, and attract investors.
Growth and Capital
Once you determine that your app is a viable concept, you need a strategy. A timeline and development milestones are what separates an idea from a real business plan. You need to determine how long development will take, how much it will cost, how you will market it, and how it will scale. As you gain numbers, you need to make sure your app architecture and backend is robust enough to handle the increased traffic. A top notch dev team will write your app so that it scales reliably.
The cost of app development varies depending on the complexity, the platform, and the developer you hire. Unless you’re willing to front the cash yourself, you may need investors. Venture Capitalists like to see products that are already off to a strong start. It’s a good idea to begin with a pre-seed round to fund an MVP (minimum viable product) that you can show to potential clients and investors.
Focus on testing the desirability of your app; like Andrew Chen suggests:
What’s a minimum “test” of your product? And what are you testing?
Once your app has some momentum, you can add other features, but a functional MVP is a great stepping off point
You have an idea, now you need a plan. If you are part of an established business and you have the experience and connections to build your app, go for it. Otherwise, the right development team can help you figure out how to turn your idea into a reality. Many in the industry would warn against entering the app world unless you have some financial flexibility and a truly incredible idea, but never be afraid to get an initial quote from a developer.
Applications can be difficult and dangerous (to your wallet), but who knows? With the right team and the right plan in place, your app might just make it big.