If your company hasn’t already launched a mobile app, it’s not too late to tap into this powerful medium for marketing, advertising, and customer engagement. However, you have to be very careful about how you handle the process. If you aren’t cautious, the cost of the project could get away from you and render your efforts useless. Even worse, if you don’t monitor each step, you could wind up with a result that’s bland and ineffective.
Start with a Clearly Defined Budget
The problem most businesses encounter when attempting to build an app from scratch is that they don’t account for the finances. They assume everything will come together and that spending precious time budgeting and forecasting is a waste. Don’t make this mistake; a clearly defined budget is paramount to your app’s success.
A clearly defined budget helps in two ways: It lets you allocate funds to each phase of the process in order to avoid overspending, and it allows you to understand how much it will cost to design the features you want. But how do you budget properly for an app?
You’re essentially creating a business plan. You should start with analysis so that everyone understands why the app is being created, what purpose it serves, and what the primary end-goal is (i.e. monetization, brand awareness, practicality, etc.). Here are some issues you’ll have to sort through when defining your budget:
- Platforms (iOS, Android, Windows)
- Outsourced vs. in-house development
- App features and functionality
- App marketing and submission
Once you’ve made some of these basic choices, you’ll begin to get a better feel for realistic costs and how much you can expect to spend.
Brainstorming and Prototyping
The next phase is something businesses often forget: brainstorming and prototyping. While it may seem elementary, it’s a good idea to take the prototyping process in stages before actually programming or developing the app.
Start with rudimentary sketches of the app. This may seem extremely basic, but it’s the first step in the process. After sketching out the app’s layout, menu, and navigation features, you can then proceed with virtual prototyping. In other words, you should create your app without any of the complex programming features. This basic dry run brings your idea to life and exposes any major flaws.
The best resources for this process are InVision and Mockplus RP. These two tools help users brainstorm, prototype, and collaborate – all in a single platform. The finished prototype can then be used as the framework and guideline for the real thing once you’re ready to actually begin programming.
Finding a Quality Programmer
Once you’re comfortable with your prototype, it’s time to build the app. This important step requires you to find a skilled app programmer. Look for someone with experience and responsiveness. There will be a lot of back and forth between you and the programmers and designers, so it’s pertinent that you like the people you hire.
If you were realistic during the budgeting phase, there won’t be any surprises here. You should have already accounted for the cost, so now you can focus on finding the right team for the job. Look for a programmer with a list of references, portfolio of past work, and a strong internet presence. These are all signs that they are successful and professional.
Launching the First Version
Finally, it’s time to launch the first version of your app. Notice this says “first.” You can’t realistically expect the app you release to be perfect. Only after a few days, weeks, or months on the market can you really begin to identify flaws, issues, and ways of improving.
Read through reviews, poll users, and spend time interacting with the app on your own. As you do each of these things, you’ll inevitably discover areas for improvement. Then you can refocus your attention and move forward with a better version.