There is something very appealing about developing an app. If you think of something everyone likes, if properly executed, it could make you a fortune. However, that type of success is not reality as Ninety percent are downloaded less than 500 times a day, making less than a thousand dollars per day. It is important to temper your expectations before you undertake the development process.
Why do people use apps?
App’s make people lives easier.
An example of an app that helps you on the go is Splitwise, a money management app that allows you to tally what you are owed versus what is owed to you. Being able to check this from your phone allows you to make judgment calls on the fly as you make spending decisions.
Another example of an app that facilitates a fast pace life is HappyCow. Finding restaurants while travelling that meet your dietary preferences while catering to your restrictions can be difficult. If you are seeking out vegetarian cuisine or gluten free food, HappyCow will help you locate restaurants and filter their offering so you can tailor your needs accordingly.
The other reason people use apps is for entertainment. Either the app is shaving minutes off someone’s already busy life by making their day to day more convenient or how does that app distract people during life’s boring moments?
If apps like Splitwise and HappyCow make people’s lives more convenient, Podcast Addict and Goodreads are apps made to entertain. There are downtimes in the day when you may have some time to enjoy a book or podcast. If you are commuting, waiting in a doctor’s office, or at a kid’s soccer practise, you may get fifteen minutes of enjoyment.
Podcast Addict has an enormous library of podcasts sorted by genre and popularity. If you are new to podcasts, there are a tonne of them. It can be hard to pinpoint what would be the podcast that best suits you but if you sample a few during these select moments, you will be sure to find some fascinating content.
Different app categories, uses and user demand
Money management app that organizes and records a debt history among friends
Popular app among students who pool their resources for nights out and dorm expenses. Money can complicate relationships so this app keeps a running tally of debts among young people.
Food directory for people with alternative diets and dietary restrictions
Popular app among vegans and those who struggle to find accommodating restaurants while travelling.
Library for podcasts
Podcasts are the 21st century’s version of talk radio. Everyone can find someone or something they want to listen to.
Community for book lovers with lists, reviews, and recommendations.
Many prolific readers enjoy book clubs and Goodreads is the online equivalent.
You may think you have a good idea, but do you have any idea how to execute it? The following are ten steps involved in creating an app:
1. Identifying a problem you can solve
- Analysing trends: Start by taking a good look around you. Watch people moving about the world for a while. Notice what businesses are in your area and what services they are trying to provide. It’s important to find the balance between what the market demands and where your passions lie. If you neglect the market, you may be left with an app that no one else can identify with.
- Trusting your gut: Trust your instincts but do not rely on them. Intuition is important for generating ideas but placing too much faith in your own instincts disregards what is going on in the wider market. Your instincts may or may not reflect market needs. However, if you do not trust what your gut is telling you then you may not have the volition to gain first mover advantage.
- Check if your idea is unique: There are tools that you can use to see if your idea is being pursued by others. One such is the Google Keyword Planner, its an online research tool that shows whether other people have been sniffing around your idea. If it has generated interest, then you may have an idea worth going after.
There is an alternative to online tools. You can create a web page that outlines the specs of your idea and promote that page through social media, if people are interested in that idea then you can attach a poll to the page and ask people to leave their opinion.
2. Choosing the right platform
When developing an app, you can choose to develop for one platform exclusively. If you want to create an Android app, then you create within Android’s specifications. Same goes with Apple. iOS’s primary coding language is Objective C whereas Android’s primary coding language is Java and XML.
The growing trend in the business world is BYOD, bring your own device. This means one worker may bring their Apple product to a meeting, while another co-worker brings the Android product, and the two workers should be able to sync up with the same software seamlessly.
You can choose to develop your app for cross-platforms. Instead of having a unique code for both Apple and Android, a code that meets both specifications is designed using cross platform software.
For instance, Xamarin’s IDE allows for code completion in C# which allows for developers to tap into the specific native advantages of both Android and Apple’s UI. This saves time in the long run and adds utility because rather than figuring out the native specs of each platform, you can use middleware like Xamarin to satisfy both sets of idiosyncratic specifications for Android and Apple.
If your app is designed to cross platforms, it can reach a wider market of users. Instead of developing in each platform’s native language, it can be a prudent choice from the outset to develop the singular code to better sync with each platform.
- Outline with flow in mind
Your app is more than its core premise, it needs to be fully fleshed out. Your going to have to be detail oriented, and map out what this app is going to look like, what features it needs, how many keystrokes between functions, its color schemes, and everything else associated with this being a finished product.
Storyboarding is a way that you can outline. Much in the same way writers pin cue cards up on a cork board in their writer’s room to block out and sequence movie scenes, you and your team can use online tools to visually demarcate the different components in your app’s design. This lay out will organize your thinking and allow you and your team to have a way to reference different aspects of your app while comparing them to the whole vision.
First, consider the old school, bristol board and illustrations way of storyboarding. If you have an illustrator who can draw your concepts, then you can arrange visually in some sort of ordered sequence the different aspects and features which comprise your app’s design. If you do not have the artistic ability to carry this out, then consider using an online tool.
One online tool that you can use for storyboarding is Storyboard That. They offer a business version of their service that is dedicated to product development.
Someone should be able to look at your outline, and know exactly what you are thinking, apps usually involve getting seed money from lenders, so the more you’ve thought out your app’s design, the more convincing your pitch is going to be to the lender.
Rapid prototyping is a rushed development process where the developer designs a wireframe version of their app as a hollowed out prototype. The finer details and features that would be included in the final product stage are foregone so that the developer can take a holistic look at what the process might entail.
Rapid prototyping might be useful if you need to show investors a conceptual. The wireframe of your idea can bring that idea to life and with that idea on display in some version of its final form, you may inspire confidence in those who can see now some glimpse of your final vision.
Balsamiq is an online prototyping tool that allows you to reproduce the experience of working on a whiteboard. It has drag and drop functions and ready made widgets that alleviate some of the procedural burden which aids you in quickly designing a wireframe for your app. It may result in a light sketch of your app’s design.
4. Remove the non-essentials
People are going to need to use your app for a reason. They have plenty of apps, and your app needs to help them in one way. You may have an app with multiple functions and many features, but they may not need or want those features or functions.
Your app may warrant all those features and functions, but they may just serve to clutter the flow of your app’s design. If your app is cluttered or confusing, than people will be put off by your app.
As a developer, it can be tempted to load your app’s design with a bunch of things you think add to the experience when in fact they take away from the things people actually value. Take a step back and think of what your user will take away most from using your app. If you have things that will sidetrack them from its main purpose, consider removing them.
- Visual appeal
Your app needs to be appealing aesthetically. If your app has illegible font, an ugly icon, and a color scheme that is an eye sore then the person may exit the app before they have had a chance to see it’s value. Taking each stylistic choice into account will be noticed by savvy users.
- Live assistance
Having live chat help feature where users can ask questions adds an extra layer of support users know is there when they are having difficulty navigating your app. The faster and more reliable the support, the more assured users feel that the company cares whether they have a positive experience.
It’s something to consider keeping your app lean. This way you reduce the chance one of your app’s features misfire, and turns off your user as a result. Some developers get too caught up in making their app multi-purpose, and the app feels bloated. Less is always more, and an app with a sleek and pared down design is often more appreciated than an app that has a confused identity.
5. Make sure you put time into your app design
The way your app looks is going to be a huge determinant if your app succeeds. Your icon, color scheme, and other features say a lot about the attitude of your brand.
Here are some things to consider:
Different color arrangements and hues will imply different meanings to your user. People associate colors with values and characteristics.
Compare your brand’s values and attitude to other brands you want to emulate. If you want to indirectly associate with another company’s ethos than choosing a similar color scheme is a way to go about that.
Another layer of nuance is how colors compare and contrast. A common rule of thumb is the 60-30-10 rule. 60-30-10 refers to a percentage distribution between three colors; a dominant color, a secondary color, and an accent. The logic behind this is that a blend in that proportion allows the eye to process the scheme gradually.
One way to play with different color schemes is to use a color wheel. You can move a tracker over different hues to see what blend comes about. There are many pieces of software that allow you to manipulate a color wheel to find the right blend. Here are a few you can look into.
Your icon is the flag that you hang beside your app. People will immediately associate that image with your app and that kind of impression sticks. While competing with the sea of apps in Apple’s App Store, you need something that speaks directly to your brand’s identity while also capturing the passing eye’s attention.
The icon is a thumbnail logo so you should keep that in mind. A good icon will accomplish a few things; it will speak to your brand’s character and attitude. It may not even be directly related to your app’s function but a value symbol associated with the function.
- Text Fonts
The choice of text font used in your app is a stylistic choice. The more thought you put into every detail, the more it tells a user about the attitude of the service they are using. When creating a Word document, everyone has their font preference. Comic Sans is considered less professional than Arial or New Times Roman. If you choose a font outside of the normal roster of established fonts, people will take notice and judge that decision
Being clear is paramount above all. Illegible text will put off users. A few important considerations regarding font is font is whether it scales well and whether it is accessible to the user. Font is usually not something you want to stand out with, it’s best to keep it simple.
The aesthetic with bold colors vs one with a soft palette will be an identifier a user associates with your brand. Some developers skim over this part of the process. They choose clunky graphics or standard images that take away from their app’s purpose, and that poorly conceived design is a strike against what may be a perfectly serviceable app.
Another factor in app design is how the user will navigate your app. Not only does your app have to look great, your app has to transition smoothly from one feature to the next. People are tactile, and even if they do not consciously notice it, they are moved by your app design. Its small things like this that can leave an impression on a user that has them coming back.
6. Find a quality developer
Knowledge level vs Cultural fit
You need to find a developer who is the right fit for your team. They need to be knowledgeable and they need to fit into your culture. Considering both of these aspects is important because they impact different things. Their knowledge level determines capability while their cultural fit indicates how well they will work with your existing team.
Coding experience and design intuition are learned skills and those skills are skills your team as it is likely lacks. The developer is brought in for that knowledge which makes their ability to code the essential factor, even if their personality is a bit at odds with your culture.
7. Trusting your app developer
You will be trusting a fair deal of your project to this new hire. If that hire is assuming a lot of responsibility, you are going to have to trust them. Consider designing them a test project or letting them try their hand at part of an existing one, by doing this you can test their skill level out on a regular project.
8. Use analytics to track your app’s health
After your app’s been on the market for a while, there are a few indicators of whether people are downloading it. There is your install volume, and your app’s place within the App Store search hierarchy, but there are measures beyond the App Store that can tell if your App is succeeding.
Analytics are the way of the future. They are being used in every industry to predict the future and learn about consumer behaviour. They take aggregate scores of a number of metrics related to the health of your products profitability and health.
Here a few app analytics tools to consider:
Appsee is an analytics tool that will show how many people have used the app, for how long, and whether the app crashed or not while being used. These are useful pieces of data to know in terms assessing your apps popularity, lasting appeal, and reliability. Being able to see and compare these figures may help you make decisions regarding how you move forward in development.
- Flurry Analytics
Flurry analytics is the standard bearer in app analytics programs. The developer customizes which metrics they want to track in the code of their program, one such metric is collecting a certain type of demographic information.
- Google Mobile Analytics
Google has their own mobile analytics tool and it allows to collect information pertaining to usage and demographics. Their program has a host of metrics; information on certain types of users specifically, real time usage reports, and flow visualizations.
9. Review feedback
Once your app is live on the App Store, people will begin to download it if you intrigue them with your idea and it’s description. Often people will leave user ratings and reviews, and you can tell a lot from those reviews. You want to listen to your users so that you can improve your app.
Some people will leave reviews that you can ignore, but if enough users have the same points about how they feel about your app then that repeated point may have merit. It’s free feedback you just need to parse out the good suggestions from the bad suggestions.
If your users see that they have been listened to, then they will be more inclined to give constructive criticism which will create a feedback loop whereby your app receives consistent criticism that you can use to enhance your app.
You do not have to wait for user opinions to introduce things to your app. If you have an idea for a feature or an add on that will get the users excited, you should roll that feature out. That feature may increase your downloads or enhance your app’s popularity.
You do not have to wait for user opinions to introduce things to your app. If you have an idea for a feature or an add on that will get the users excited, you should roll that feature out and review its response.