ITunes application store has opened up the gateway of creativity for thousands of young people and from the time of its inception in 2008, 500,000+ applications are approved by Apple. Even if you are a non technical person, you can master the series of tasks to create an iPhone app with limited technical skills. This is extremely important for making sure that your application does not get denied like the hundreds that Apple deny every day.
Determine Your Goal
Goal is the primary and ultimate requirement of any product development or project, because if you don’t know what you want to achieve and don’t have a proper vision towards the effectiveness of your venture, planning the development process, and assessing its progress is not possible.
A real life scenario can be taken into consideration. Tom wants to earn some extra bucks, without giving up his own job, by selling his application. He requires someone to update the application, handle feature requests, and tackle customer questions. Tom is sure that he does not want to leave his job and thus hires help. Otherwise he would have been in extra pressure and will fill reluctant to meet the time commitment. No matter what your original profession is, determining a goal for application development is always beneficial.
Goals to consider while building application
• Application just for fun and not for profit
• App for promoting existing products and services
• Application that does not require management and frequent update
• Application for earning full time
Before you start with the process of developing the application, determine you goal and then make the movement. Determine Your Expectations. Once you fix your primary goal, it is time to determine how much you can expect to earn. The factors that are major determinant of expectation are
• Popularity of the application
• Production cost
• People responsible for success
You can be one of those ‘idea people’ with no technical skill, but with knowledge regarding the factors above and documented proof of return, you can make it big. ‘Gabi founders’ is one such example. Lima Sky, Driftlab are sole developers, Montessorium is an educator, Sarah Young is a writer and they are all successful with iphone apps. The list includes mid and large size of entertainments companies.
It is important to have a realistic view while projecting revenue based on previous success rate of a similar application or application for the same set of customers. Though the process of developing and launching an app is a complex one, here you get thorough overview of the same.
Get Inspiration from this video. A 6th Grade boy has released his app in app store.
To Start Off:
App store is today, a competitive market platform, where all ideas are not working in the same way. It is possible to get the visibility without much promotion, but for that your idea should be evaluated properly.
Evaluation: Evaluating own idea is not easy especially when you are not skilled in the same field. It is thus, important to seek professional advice before you proceed. The specialized industrial knowledge of the professional would help you better your idea. For app development iphone marketing professionals are best as evaluator. They will be able to tell you about the past performance of previous apps and guide you regarding the promotional techniques.
iPhone app developers are quite helpful in assisting their community. You have to be humble while asking them for review. You can also use your personal contacts and try to get suggestion from someone who has already launched an application.
What to expect from an evaluation?
A proper evaluation will let you know
1. The risk of tough competition.
2. The technical limitation of the idea.
3. The phase of development and how to move about them.
4. The scope of refining the idea to improve the scope of sale.
5. Possibility of profit on the estimated production cost.
6. The validity of the idea for mobile users.
7. The feedback opportunity from the target group.
Once the step of reviewing ideas is completed, you can move towards the next step.
If you don’t find anyone to evaluate your idea, look for the following points to determine if your application idea is going to work or not.
• Your idea must be able to solve a unique problem. There are things people want to do on the go to make life easier. If you plan assist them to pay bill, block calls, manage investment account or do any worthy thing, then your app will be able to draw attention.
• You can find a niche and create the app based on the target group. The niche can be babies, pet or anything as such.
• If you are making an application that make people laugh, they will share it with others and you will have more customers.
• You can make a replica of a successful application by modifying and including features that was missing in the last one. The decision has to be tricky and quick so that you get the bigger share of profit.
• Games with fast interaction to the player manage to grab attention for long. Your application can also use the same strategy.
Now that you have evaluated your idea, you can start with the making process. The following is the step by step guide to make you understand how to move with it.
Marketing and Monetization Plan Development
Before you can start with the prototype or drawing, it is important to assess the profit, and chalk out a marketing plan.
Why is it important to do it in the beginning?
If you are thinking it is not that important, it is important to mention that according to the report published by AppPromo, out of 102 developers who participated in the survey, 80% of them are not making enough money to pay the cost requirement of their business. Possibly, most of them did not have monetization and marketing plan done before starting the business. This is like a homework that you cannot miss. If you miss this the following chain may start.
1. Got an amazing idea.
2. Sketch the idea.
5. Charge a high rate and wait for the response.
6. Launch the app.
7. People do not notice the app or not ready to pay for it.
8. The deep black hole in the app store swallows it down.
9. You decide to make it free.
10. You change your money making plan by paying your developer more.
11. The new plan is effective but now you need to get your rank back.
This is a common scenario but this chaos can be avoided with presumption. The app monetization guide will help you plan early.
Developer Account Signup
You require to establish your business by providing your tax and bank information within the app store. You may hire a separate developer, but this is mandatory. The cost is $99 per year and you have to keep everything ready before signing up in the iOS development center.
If you don’t want to sign up, you have to publish your application through another company’s account. In that case, Apple will pay the revenue to the account holder and he would be responsible for paying you.
Sketching Your Application
In case you have a proper idea, you must have visualized it. It is time to put it on paper. You can sketch whatever comes in your mind but make sure it has all the following things in it.
- Primary actions to be taken by the user
- Information provided by each of the screen
- The flow, start and end of the app and the relevant screens
- The relative size of elements on screen
While you start sketching things down, you may feel like including fresh new ideas, new features and you require to sketch each of them. This can be to simplify the process or add new twists but you should never deviate from the original idea. Thumbnail sketching for each screen will give you better look at the flow of the app. iPlotz can convert sketches to digital format.
Once you are done with the sketching, you are ready to move ahead. You require showing the sketches to the developer to make him or the team understand what you want from them. The team will then provide the price estimate and calculating the cost would be easier.
What works you need to outsource?
Making an iphone application is a small business and it is difficult for you to do everything alone. You need to find out what you are good at and give out the other job. You can be a designer, a developer or just the idea maker. You cannot be an advertiser, accountant, project manager together. Take lead in areas you are comfortable in and find out areas where hiring help would be a better option.
The common areas are:
- Promotion and marketing
Freelancers are the best option because you can choose to give out parts of your work to them. Once the job is over, you don’t require paying them. For phase development, you can hire them again and pay according to the job done. However, your role as a project manager would enhance and you need to make them sign a non disclosure agreement so that they don’t leak out the plan. The scope of work, expectation and payment term must be made clear before signing the contract. If your budget is more and you have less time to monitor the production work, it is better to hire an agency. You can just review and approve the work done.
Hire Your Team
Once you have decided what you can do and what you cannot, it is time to make a team for outsourcing the parts.
Design: You can download “iPhone App Template,” for getting started with the design. There are some other resources which can tell you about appropriate mobile design. Marc Edwards’ articles, Luke Wroblewski’s blog, Ken Yarmosh’s blog, UI Stencils are some examples. AppsMirror.com recommends you take a look on the app design starter kit
If you are not going to do the designing part, you should at least know the roles of the designer, interaction design, information architecture, and visual design. Keep your sketches ready, and the designer shall start the process. You can give the total responsibility to one, or ask three different people to do it.
The three parts and their meaning:
Information architecture: Organizing the content of your application is known as information architecture and it is similar to web design.
Interaction design: there are certain applications where you don’t need to check the instructions. The flow is so seamless, it just comes from within. This is what the interaction designer does, understanding the movement of the user from one screen to another and they natural reflex to operate. This requires special skill and the designer you hire should posses the same.
Visual design: While preparing the visual of the app, you should never forget the primary task and usability. However, it is important to remember that visual screen is the face of the app.
A programmer with experience of programming mobile application would have more knowledge and will be able to provide feedback on the sketch and planning. Dribbble, Elance and Crowd SPRING are some of the job posting website. You have to make the job requirement clear and should be open to review a lot of profile.
You can also use the Graphic UI Design packs from DesignModo & GraphicRiver
It is extremely important to find out a developer with previous experience as experience counts in app development. iPhoneSDK, Google Group, Developer Forums, Apple, StackOverflow are some of the forum you can check out or crack open Xcode and start developing. Ask your developer about the feasibility of your budget and scope of development in the early stage.
Now that you have the sketches ready, you need to write down what you are asking your developer to do. He would be able to refer back to it whenever trying to develop something. The cost estimate will be provided by the developer before starting the work and you can have your budget ready. A detailed documentation would help you to find a developer who is actually skilled in this segment. oDesk, Elance, and They Make Apps are some of those website that can give you information about good developers.
App Store Submission:
Launch date of the app should be planned well in advance and it should be a timely and great launch. Communicate the date to the developer. You can go through the unpublished rules that cause applications to be rejected. The app store review guide should be studied well to make sure that the app does not get denied.
Marketing and Promotion:
Marketing and promotion has no alternatives, if you want your application to get noticed. Without visibility, your application would lose rank and it would be difficult to pull it up. It is better to be ready with more than one marketing plan, so that, if one fails, the other can do the trick.
You can use several strategies for promotion:
You can incorporate social media in a functional way to your app. You can choose to set up fan pages on Facebook or twitter and ask your users for feedback.
Pre-launch promotion always pays off if you can choose the journalists and bloggers in a tricky way. Choose one that writes close to your niche and give them information about the launch. Once they start writing, the buzz will be created and your app will be famous before launch. TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog), Apps400.com, Apps4review, AppCraver, Macworld and TouchArcade are some of the platform you can consider.
People always look for better versions and thus multiple release planning is impotant. Miss some features in the first version, include them in the second, and include some more in the third so that the user feels the urge to download the improved version again and again. Mobile Marketer, Mobile Marketing Watch, Indie iPhone App Marketing are some other sources for app marketing ideas.
Idea is intangible but the app is payable, the transformation being the most important factor, you have to be very sure about each of the step you take. Right group of people, and right execution process holds the key while someone is trying to develop his first app. Having a clear idea and requirements throughout the process will not only save your time and money but also make you successful as an entrepreneur.
It’s really quite disheartening that in the entirety of the article, particularly in the “Development” section, there is not a single mention of Software testing, nor of Quality Assurance. Apple App Store users are not forgiving of bugs, especially bad ones that break intended functionality, or in the case of at least one well-known app recently, stopped it from starting up at all. I’ve no idea how bugs like that slip past Apple’s own approvals process.
Speaking of QA, there’s a typo in the article. One of the headers reads “Developer Account Sing[sic] Up” – surely that should read Sign Up, yes?
Also, why are the headers in this article images rather than text marked up with header HTML tags? That’s just a waste of bandwidth IMHO.
Thanks for notifying the typo. It’s fixed.
On QA part, the scope of the article is to explain the steps briefly, so didn’t include QA. But sure will come up with a Guide for QA and cross refer it here.
On H1 Tag part, it’s not images, they are cufon fonts…
The H1 tag is a cufon font yes, overlaid on top of an unneeded canvas. I guess I just prefer to keep my HTML as simple and uncluttered as possible…
As David mentioned, Testing is the key component in App Development. If you start App Development without having a good idea and good time / resources for testing, then the development may lead to failure… So add QA in lifecycle and give due importance.
That is an interesting article but the real issue starts after you develop the app. You need to make sure that the app which you have developed starts getting users. It is a well known fact that a lot of app developers undervalue app marketing.
In fact recently Apple released some numbers which said that about 500,000 apps have zero downloads. So if you want to be a SUCCESSFUL app entrepreneur you need ot learn to market your app.
Why do I say this? This is because I have been through the same hell with zero downloads before I started learning about app marketing and teaching it as well to get more than 3.5 million downloads for three of my apps.
Puneet, you are right, our success absolutely stands in app marketing, Even though the app with great quality, we need proper marketing and advertising strategies to reach more heights in sales.
This article is helpful for newbies who’re venturing into mobile app world.
Like Puneet said, it would be nice to have few touch points on ‘essentials’ of marketing the app. While quality of the app is needed, ROI solely depend on the marketing considering for the competition out there!