January 31, 2018
Maybe you have a great idea, or perhaps you would like to improve upon the current technologies you have in place. Either way, if you are reading this, you are most likely an entrepreneur or small business owner who is starting to play around with the idea of developing a web or mobile application. It’s not a bad idea considering a whopping 67% of small businesses are expected to have an app in 2018, and that 87% of a user’s mobile time is spent in-app. Mobile use has surpassed desktop use, so mobile applications are an excellent platform for getting eyes on your brand.
With that said, before you start calling every app development company in town to get a quote it is important to sit down and ask yourself some important questions. Taking the time to think more in depth about your idea and develop an actual business plan will save you — and potential developers — a lot of valuable time and money. Here are some questions that will help you decide if building an app is a smart, realistic and feasible investment you want to make:
1. Do I have the resources?
Building an application is like most things in life — you get what you pay for. Engineering is not something you want to cheap out on, especially if you are trying to create a viable, scalable product. You are most likely going to need investors and startup capital to make your application a reality, as apps tend to run anywhere between $50K and $1M depending on the capabilities you are looking for. Expecting to throw a few thousand dollars to create an entire application is unrealistic; or, it will leave you with an unusable, unscalable product. When creating an app, it is best to invest the money in getting it done right the first time, rather than paying more down the road to have errors fixed or having to go through a complete rebuild.
2. Is my idea unique or wIll it improve on an existing app?
The app marketplace is extremely cluttered. Take a minute to do some research on your idea, and ensure that it doesn’t already exist. Unfortunately, it is pretty common for the idea still in one’s head to have already been executed by someone else. This doesn’t mean your app development dreams have to be stopped in their tracks, it simply means your application must somehow improve upon whatever already exists. There needs to be a competitive advantage that will set your app apart from the rest; a reason for people to download your app instead of other similar applications on the market.
3. Who is my target market?
It is so important to identify your target market because these are the people who will be using your application the most. Is this market big enough to support the development of this application? Why do they need this application? Create buyer personas of the target users you identify. Knowing exactly who you are trying to get to use this application will help guide the development process and direction of the application. Doing proper research will also be key if you need to secure funding.
4. How will I make money?
Obviously, making money is an important aspect of justifying app development. Your investors, and potential investors, are going to want to know exactly how you plan on making money off of this investment. There are many different models for monetizing an application. Do your research and begin developing ideas for how you plan on making money and sustaining the development of this application.
5. What is my timeline?
In other words, how serious are you about starting this project? The average mobile application will take between three and six months to develop, give or take depending on the engineering and design specifications you are looking to implement. Use this timeline to guide when you would like each aspect of the development and design complete, and don’t forget about the importance of allocating enough time for marketing efforts!
6. Do I have a launch plan?
Your launch or deployment plan for your application is an extremely important part of the app development process. Having a finished end product and releasing it to the app store isn’t even close to what you need to do to have a successful launch. You will most likely need a marketing expert on hand to help you reach your target market and encourage downloads.
Hopefully these questions help you discern if you are truly ready to move forward with meeting with app development companies, and help you streamline the process by knowing exactly what you want to create. With a solid plan in place before you start approaching software developers, you will get much more accurate quotes and know exactly what kind of timeline you are looking at.
Alexandra is a marketer and writer for Enola Labs Software, a software development company based in Austin, Texas. Alexandra frequently writes about technology, small business marketing, media, and other business trends.