Developing a successful mobile app is very rewarding. It’s also a ton of hard work. There are as many different ways to develop an app as there are app developers, however to be successful it helps to be organized, and start with a detailed plan.
In order to develop a good plan, you should first be able to answer the following questions:
- 1. What am I trying to achieve?
- 2. Who are my customers?
- 3. How will my app be used, and on what devices?
- 4. What tools or other resources do I have to work with?
1. Goals – What am I trying to achieve?
Developers have different reasons for wanting to create an app. The most obvious reason is to make money, and there are different ways to profit from your app. Other developers, especially those who are just starting out, want to develop a successful free app in order to show their ability and develop a good reputation. Others develop an app to solve problems, or to win a contest, or as a school project. You need to set a specific goal before you do anything else, and keep that goal in mind, or written down, as you develop your app. This helps to keep you on target.
2. Customers – Who will use my app?
Your customers are the ones who will make your app a success. The more people who like you app and download it, the more successful your app will be. To appeal to those customers, and have them tell their friends about it, you need to consider who will download and use your app. For example, a driving game would be more popular with boys and young adults, while a crossword puzzle app might appeal more to an older demographic. The better you know your target audience, the better you will be able to tailor your app to fit their needs. In keeping with your overall goal, you should consider what it is that the customers provide in return for using your apps. If it is a paid app, for example, then you are getting money in return. For other apps, you may be collecting information about how your app is being used, what customers like and don’t like about it, or adding information that will be shared with other customers, such as restaurant reviews, interactive games where the customers play with or against each other, and so forth. Before collecting information from your customers, it is important to explain how that information is used, and to get their consent.
3. How will my app be used, and on what devices?
There are many different devices that can run your app. Smartphones, Tablets and SmartTVs are the most common examples, but there are also other devices being developed such as a “smart” key fob or automobile information and entertainment systems.
Exercise monitoring apps are popular, and are well suited for devices that people array around with them, smartphones and “smart” key fobs; but a Smart TV or automobile system are not a good fit for that kind of app.
Smartphones outnumber all these other examples put together, of course, and most likely you want to develop and app for a smartphone.
4. Tools and Resources
You have many different tools and resources at your disposal, and it’s important to know what they are before you start developing. For example, the specs of your target device(s), the different inputs available such as touch screen, keyboard (if any), pen or stylus, voice, camera, or other sources of information that the device can receive. If you plan on porting your app to more than one mobile computing platform, take this into consideration and find out about the different methods and tools for accomplishing this.
If your app provides information to customers, consider where is that information, how can your app get access to it? How does the device connect to the outside world? Examples include WiFi, phone carrier, Bluetooth, NFC, etc. You should take into consideration how long it will take you to develop your app, what other people, such as a graphic designer, you will have to help. And of course you should think about your own strengths and take advantage of them
Once you have collected as much information as possible, you should plan out how you’re going to develop and test the app. The more questions you can answer in your plan at the beginning, the fewer issues will come up in the development process. It is also a good idea to look at each of the functions your app has, and see if there is an available API for it.