The Beginner's Guide to Building and Launching an App
Do you have ideas for apps that you want to test out? Even if you aren't a coder or a developer, there are ways to get your idea off the ground and out into the world. In fact, it's generally better if you don't have to deal with programming as an entrepreneur, because there's so much more that goes into making a successful app than just development.
Although there is plenty of information out there about making apps, it isn't always organized in a clear, point A to point B kind of fashion. To avoid feeling overwhelmed and create the best product possible, it's important to break down the process into simple, easy-to-follow steps.
If you don't have any technical skills, then it is always possible to learn them. However, the more likely scenario is that you'll be partnering with a development team to make your app while you're handling the business side of things.
"I've never had any programming skills and it's never held me back," says Andreas Kambanis, founder of Nibble Apps. "As long as you can add value through app marketing, content creation or other areas, there's no need for you to become an expert programmer too. That part can be outsourced."
The fact that you don't need programming skills is good news for entrepreneurs. Just keep in mind that you tend to get what you pay for. If you outsource developers to make your app, expect to be inundated with messages. You will end up having to spec out so many details for your app idea that you might as well be coding it yourself.
In addition to partnering with a developer, hiring a mobile app development team or even working with outsourcers, you can also use app builders such as Mobiloud or TheAppBuilder. These builders allow you to create apps without having to know any code.
These solutions might prove useful if you're just looking to grow your online presence and extend into mobile, but they won't do you much good if your intention is to create a custom app with unique functionality.
For the best results possible, hire a qualified team that knows what they're doing. Work with experts in user interface and experience, as well as quality assurance to ensure your app ideas are executed with precision and professionalism. For additional information on making your first mobile app, you can also take a look at A Step-by-Step Guide To Building Your First Mobile App.
How to market your app
The app marketplace is highly competitive, with more than 1 million apps for sale across various categories. However, it can still be a lucrative opportunity if you can market your app effectively and get it into the hands of the people who want and need it. Just keep in mind that it's not enough to make a great app.
Your first order of business should be to work with early adopters. Release early with core features, and have people test out your app before you flesh it out in its entirety. By creating some initial buzz, you can ensure that there will be a user base for your app when the official release date comes, and will also give you an opportunity to validate your idea.
Next, you need to separate yourself from the pack. There are essentially two ways to do this in the app market. The first is to make an app with unique features, and the other is to cater to specific niches. These strategies can be used in tandem.
Another tactic that has worked well for apps such as Spotify is exclusivity. At first, Spotify was available by invitation only in the U.S. This helped it to grow and scale sustainably, and also ratcheted up the hype surrounding the app.
You should also make sure to optimize for the app store. You've probably heard of search engine optimization before, and app store optimization really isn't that different. You need to make sure you're using the right keywords for your app in the title as well as the description.
Finally, you can encourage the growth of your app by including social sharing features. If your app is a game, then you might give users a chance to share their high scores. If you're making a weight-loss app, then the objective might be to have users share how much weight they've lost. You can grow your audience very quickly by getting them to talk about your app on social media.
How to make money from your app
Making money from your app begins with good marketing. After all, you have to build awareness around your new app if you intend to make any money from it.
The reality of the matter is that there are a lot of different ways to monetize your app, but these four work best:
1. Apps that users pay for once and have complete access to. With this model, the expectation will be that updates and new features will be free. The one downside of this monetization method is that it makes repeat revenue very difficult if not impossible.
2. Apps that users pay for once, and then pay for additional features. Though this model does allow for additional revenue after your app has been purchased, it has been on the receiving end of a great deal of criticism. The expectation of most users is that if they pay for an app once, they should have access to all of its features.
3. Apps with a freemium model. This monetization option is particularly popular in the game market, and encourages users to make purchases in the app to unlock the premium version. The app is free to use, but the free version is limited, and does not contain all of the goodies the premium version does.
4. Free apps monetized through advertising. These apps do not cost any money to download, and are continually monetized through ads. This model works well if you anticipate that you will have a high number of downloads, and that your users will be using your app for longer stretches of time.
There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to making an app for the first time. Take a read through 5 Development Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Mobile App to avoid costly mistakes that could take you down the wrong path.
The entrepreneurial spirit is one that doesn't quit. Even with the best information in tow, there is always the possibility that your project won't go exactly as planned. However, if you persevere and keep improving, you will eventually find an idea that resonates with the world.