Once of the biggest and most lucrative industries to get into in this digital age, is app development. As the saying goes: “There’s an app for that”, implying that every problem can be solved with an app. If you have a problem that you can’t find an app for, that is a gap in the market that needs plugged. Even if there is an app for that, you can still make something better.
Meanwhile, console gaming is turning to mobile apps of their games, and Netflix are even developing their own mobile games. Why? Because it’s a great way to make money.
But it isn’t as easy as games like Angry Birds make it seem. If you have a notion for developing an app, there are a few things you should be aware of before you start.
Generating an idea
The main thing that any product does, is to solve a problem. This is never more prevalent than the application industry. There are two genres of apps, despite what the Apple Store says: games and everything else. Games are there to take time off from solving a problem and the rest do just that. There are outliers that do both, like Pokémon Go, which was created to get kids walking and has spawned a couple of offshoots like Pokémon Sleep and Pokémon Smile, which make a game out of sleeping and brushing your teeth, but ultimately that’s your first choice in deciding what app to develop.
If you have moved away from games, think about your own life. Is there anything that is bothering you that hasn’t got a solution? Or it has a solution that is inadequate? After that, think about the wider world and the people around you. Have you seen a problem that an app could solve, or at the very least, make easier?
Remember that finding an entirely new idea organically is close to a miracle. If you simply add to the app industry by improving on a problem created by another app, you’ve done well. Well enough to get customers.
If you are really struggling, think about remixing instead of creating. Find something that is the standard and give it a new twist. Think of, for example, all the dating apps on the market. They are all essentially just chatrooms, but with their own twists. Bumble gives the power to the women on the app, Hinge focusses on ice breakers, etc. They are all trying to build off of the standard that Tinder has set.
It should be stated that there are options to app development. You can instead create software and online platforms if mobile apps feel too limiting, for example.
Deciding between the options mainly comes down to how detailed the app or software should be. If it is a simple concept that can be visualized clearly on a small screen, you’d be best going with a smartphone app. If your idea has a lot of features and can be integrated with other software, you’d be better going with application software.
The platform you choose to develop your app on will largely dictated by what the idea is. For example, a tracking system would be better off found on a mobile phone app whereas business apps would be more helpful as laptop software.
Then there is the question of how your customers would access your app. This article outlines the risks of Software as a Service (or SaaS) and how you can avoid them. SaaS allows users to access the software via the internet without the need to download and consistently update the software.
Before you get down to the coding, you can enjoy the fun part. Much like you would decide what your dream car is and work backwards from there to what you can afford, you get to live in dreamland for a moment.
So, ask yourself, if there were no limits on technology or your ability or resources, what would you want this app to do? An app’s development is likely to lead you in any direction, but this will provide you a good goal to work towards and a starting point for the development of your app.
Have you thought about what features you will add? What can you add to your app that will make it more helpful? Remember that, mostly in the case of mobile apps, some features can be a hindrance and it would be more helpful to keep things simple. If you are applying features to mobile apps, be sure that they are clearly laid out and easy to use.
Speaking of which, it’s time to think of the practicalities of user experience. Especially in mobile apps, the slightest inconvenience can be the most infuriating thing, and your customers will simply delete and leave a bad review about how a quit button wouldn’t work.
Make sure everything makes sense. Even if you offer up an onboarding tutorial, have people test it out to see if it can be used easily without the onboarding. There is a universal language to the internet and if someone doesn’t understand what an icon does, your app will be too difficult for people to bother with.
You will have to think about marketing long before you are finished your app, because marketing and the graphics of the software is all wrapped in the target demographic. Who is this app for?
If you have a clear demographic in mind, the graphics for the app will have to appeal to that demographic. Take a look around what other apps are doing and read up on your color theory. A lot of apps concerning money go with blue because it evokes calm and security, for example. Anything geared towards women likes to go with pink.
But if you are looking to stand out, you better get to remixing again. You can take the staples of color theory, like blue for security and give it a twist that appeals to your target demographic.
From there, you should look into digital marketing. Digital marketing is a lot more accessible than traditional media marketing, as well as cheaper and more effective, but only if you know what you are doing.
Too many people neglect the data aspect of online marketing, which measures and controls the flow of traffic to your app. Digital marketing allows you, as a brand, to watch where your customers are coming from and to tailor your marketing campaign towards them.
There is a strong likelihood that these customers are coming from recommendations from social media. They can either be fostered with affiliate marketing, in which social media influencers promote your app, or genuine recommendations. If you are going to keep their attention, or gain more customers from it, you should set up your own social media accounts for the brand.
Customers, especially in Gen Z, do their research on a new brand before they buy and will consult your social media accounts. You can appeal to them with exclusive content they can’t get elsewhere, like demonstrations of your app, suggestions for who can use it, reviews, and customer feedback, behind the scenes and more.