Become Development Ready: What To Do Before You Begin App Development

APP DEVELOPMENT

We sit back and mar­vel at ser­vices like Uber and Facebook. At their core they’re very sim­ple con­cepts that have suc­cess­fully iden­ti­fied a so­ci­etal need. But they did­n’t just start ex­ist­ing one day. There’s a process each idea should progress through (regardless of how in­for­mal it may be) be­fore it even gets to the de­vel­op­ment stage.

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1. Develop a Business Model

This is the first and most im­por­tant step on your jour­ney. It de­tails your high level plan for the ap­pli­ca­tion. You’ll need to iden­tify your tar­get mar­ket and how your app will make money. Will you charge a down­load fee? Is sell­ing ad­ver­tis­ing space your main source of rev­enue? Will you in­vest heav­ily be­fore mon­etis­ing? This will shape your de­vel­op­ment jour­ney - apps that build a user base be­fore mon­etis­ing will likely re­quire out­side in­vest­ment.

A tem­plate has been de­vel­oped to sim­plify the com­ple­tion of your busi­ness model. Alexander Ostewalder cre­ated a busi­ness model can­vas. It’s a vi­sual chart where you de­scribe your prod­ucts value propo­si­tion, in­fra­struc­ture, cus­tomers and fi­nances. By pop­u­lat­ing the can­vas (pictured be­low), you have a plat­form that can be used to shape fu­ture busi­ness de­ci­sions.

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2. Validate Your Idea

This step en­sures that you have a prod­uct peo­ple will use. It can be dif­fi­cult to get an ac­cu­rate gauge of user in­ter­est be­fore the prod­uct is avail­able. If you can talk to your tar­get mar­ket (through sur­veys/​in­ter­views) and they agree they would ac­tu­ally use your app in the way you in­tended, then it has been val­i­dated. Other meth­ods in­clude us­ing Google’s Keyword Planner to de­ter­mine the num­ber of peo­ple search­ing terms that cor­re­late with your prod­uct of­fer­ing. Alternatively, you could utilise crowd fund­ing plat­forms to seek user in­ter­est and even sub­sidise the startup costs.

3. Market Research

Market re­search is the step every en­tre­pre­neur fears. What if my awe­some idea al­ready ex­ists? At times peo­ple won’t even look be­cause they’re scared of what they’ll find. If an iden­ti­cal of­fer­ing al­ready ex­ists in the mar­ket it’s bet­ter to find out at step 3 than at step 8 af­ter you’ve al­ready sunk thou­sands of dol­lars into the pro­ject. If some­thing sim­i­lar (but not iden­ti­cal) ex­ists then you can be­gin for­mu­lat­ing your unique value propo­si­tion. Researching the mar­ket is pretty self ex­plana­tory. You can be­gin by search­ing the Apple and Google Play app stores. A gen­eral Google search of the in­dus­try may also help dis­cover com­peti­tors.

4. Define Your Unique Value Proposition

This is a short state­ment that de­scribes how you solve your users’ needs and what dis­tin­guishes you from the com­pe­ti­tion. Ideally, you want a unique prod­uct that’s easy to ex­plain. This unique value propo­si­tion will shape your mes­sag­ing. It’s in­ter­est­ing to look at how Uber’s UVP and mes­sag­ing has changed since its re­lease in 2010. Initially, it was mar­keted as UberCab - every­one’s pri­vate dri­ver.′

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Originally it dis­tin­guished its of­fer­ing from a reg­u­lar cab ser­vice by po­si­tion­ing it­self as a lux­u­ri­ous, per­son­alised op­tion at a frac­tion of the cost of a lim­ou­sine.

Over time the com­pa­ny’s mes­sag­ing has changed. It’s broad­ened its unique value propo­si­tion be­cause of the apps pop­u­lar­ity. Uber does­n’t need to de­scribe it­self as a ride shar­ing ser­vice or pri­vate car ser­vice be­cause peo­ple al­ready know. Its mes­sag­ing is sim­pler and broader; ‘get there.′ So your UVP can change over time but en­sure that at day one it ex­plains your prod­uct and its unique value.

5. Set Your User Goals

This step is prim­ing you for the de­vel­op­ment phase. You don’t want to waste time for­mu­lat­ing your user goals as de­vel­op­ment is com­menc­ing. It’s far bet­ter to have an idea of what these goals are be­fore you en­gage a de­vel­oper.

6. Funding

Despite how good your idea may be, you will still need a plan to fund it. App de­vel­op­ment can be ex­pen­sive de­pend­ing on the com­plex­ity and func­tion­al­ity of your ap­pli­ca­tion. If you have sav­ings in the bank, you could per­son­ally fund the idea. Alternatively you could pitch it to in­vestors and seek ex­ter­nal in­vest­ment. There’s no right way to fund an idea (maybe stay away from tak­ing loans from the mafia) but you should have a plan be­fore you start look­ing for a de­vel­op­ment com­pany.

Development Ready

By now you have a well de­fined idea - but that’s all it is at the mo­ment, an idea. Next, it’s time to progress that idea into a func­tion­ing ap­pli­ca­tion. This is where you must make a tough de­ci­sion, how do I build my ap­pli­ca­tion? If you’re a com­pany you can ei­ther build the app in house or out­source. As an in­di­vid­ual it’s more than likely you’ll need to out­source. Choose your de­vel­oper wisely, there’s a lot at stake! Powered by Codebots, WorkingMouse is com­pa­ra­bly faster and cheaper than other cus­tom soft­ware de­vel­op­ers.

If you want to re­view other op­tions, take a look here at more iPhone App Development Companies.

7. User Feedback

Before your ini­tial pub­lic re­lease it’s im­por­tant to give your users a voice for feed­back. After all, if they don’t like the prod­uct, they won’t use it. Initially some user test­ing is im­por­tant to help mould your ap­pli­ca­tion, but don’t be afraid to re­lease early be­cause you can still gather user feed­back as you go. This is where a feed­back loop can be utilised. A feed­back loop means that even af­ter your re­lease, you con­tinue to change dif­fer­ent parts of your prod­uct, find out how it went and learn from the re­sults. The shorter the feed­back loop, the quicker you can adapt your prod­uct if re­quired.

8. Release

As men­tioned in the last step, the first re­lease of your prod­uct does­n’t have to be the clean fi­nal ver­sion you en­vis­aged. Think MVP and un­der­stand that you won’t just re­lease one day and have an enor­mous user base the next.

9. Growth

Growing your user base can be the most dif­fi­cult step for many en­tre­pre­neurs. This step is made re­mark­ably eas­ier when you com­plete the ear­lier steps com­pre­hen­sively. With a clear plan, you know your goals, the user’s wants and how to de­liver some­thing that fits in with both.

10. Monetise

The most ex­cit­ing part of app de­vel­op­ment. That fi­nal step where you’ve ac­quired your users and you start to see a re­turn on in­vest­ment. For es­tab­lished com­pa­nies who are in­te­grat­ing a new ap­pli­ca­tion with an ex­ist­ing one, this step may come ear­lier. When this will oc­cur de­pends on your strat­egy. Facebook did­n’t be­gin se­ri­ously mon­etis­ing un­til 2012 de­spite the fact it had over 600 mil­lion monthly users in 2010.

While this process may not be the same for every de­vel­op­ment pro­ject, it should be used as a ref­er­ence point. The early steps (developing a busi­ness model and val­i­dat­ing your idea) are of­ten over­looked as an en­tre­pre­neur’s ex­cite­ment for their end vi­sion mean they jump straight to de­vel­op­ment. As de­vel­op­ers we can’t start a pro­ject if the client does­n’t have a clear plan of what they want. Without that plan you risk scope creep, chang­ing func­tion­al­ity and po­ten­tially, can­celled pro­jects.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eban Escott

Big pic­ture thinker and Star Wars fa­natic

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