In a world where it is estimated that there are more connected devices than people, it is easy to understand why app development is at an all-time high.
It is reported that there were over 218 billion mobile apps downloaded in 2020, with Instagram and Tik Tok still being some of the most loved.
There are, however, opportunities to drive businesses forward in the digital world of smartphones and technology and we are beginning to see an ongoing trend in young entrepreneurs and startups opting to create custom web applications and mobile apps for their companies instead of the humdrum tried and tested methods of starting a business.
Embarking on a new business venture can be an exciting and thrilling time for an entrepreneur however it can also be somewhat daunting for someone who is not “tech savvy”.
So, let’s look further into the basics of app development for entrepreneurs and startups.
I have an app idea – What now?
If your app idea solves a problem, you are definitely on the right track. The app market is crowded so coming up with an idea that is not only unique but will provide a service or product to consumers could mean that the chances of success are higher.
The on-demand market has risen substantially within the last few years, with the likes of Uber, Uber Eats and Netflix taking prime spots on our smartphone home screens, we have also seen giants such as Amazon launch Amazon pharmacy.
So, what do all these apps have in common? – They solve a problem. They bring food from the restaurant to you, they bring transportation to your front door, they connect you with medicine, prescriptions, and health professionals. These types of applications are what we call on demand apps.
The on-demand market is strong with consumers looking for convenience, so anything that bridges the gap between them and something they want will be attractive for the modern-day customer.
Think along the lines of air bnb, domino’s pizza, uber, ebay and etsy. These are all on demand apps.
According to a Harvard business review; The on-demand economy is attracting more than 22.4 million consumers annually and $57.6 billion in spending.
The largest category of on-demand spending is online marketplaces (e.g. eBay, Etsy), with 16.3 million consumers each month spending almost $36 billion annually.
Research is king – If you have an idea that you believe solves a problem then this could be key to the success of your business/app development. It is important however to do your market research, you need to be well versed or an absolute expert in the industry you are launching your app into.
“The more you know about your industry, the more advantage and protection you will have.”
— Tim Berry | Founder of Palo Alto Software
Decide what you want your app to do?
The next thing is to decide exactly what you want your app to do and how it is going to function. Do you already have a business that is profitable, and you would like to create an app to compliment the business? Or will your app be the basis of a new business?
When a client takes their idea to an app development company it is important to have a basic idea of the “feature list”. These will be things such as the home screen, the profile screen and the about us page,
Most apps will need a registration and log-in process, what else do you want your app to be capable of? Are you a restaurant that wants to provide a takeaway and delivery service, if this is the case then you will need to think of a payment gateway and the processes surrounding this.
Are you going to be delivering goods? If so, you may need real time tracking. Do you want your customers to be able to provide reviews and ratings?
Of course, the app development team will be able to provide guidance on your “feature list” and they will be able to offer advice on what has proven to work best but it’s important to remember that it’s your company and your responsibility to know your product and the features you want to provide your customers.
Predictably, the more features you have the higher the expense so you will need to spend time on deciding on what is a luxury and what is non-negotiable for your app.
Contact the professionals
Finding an established development company is crucial to the success of the app. You will need to find an innovative and experienced team that you are not only excited to work with but also comfortable with and have absolute trust in.
Of course, doing your own due diligence is an absolute must. Reading reviews, researching their clients, downloading case studies, and getting to know their vision will help. Does the way they conduct business fall in line with the way you conduct yours? – You will be putting your idea and your business in the hands of these folks, so it needs to feel like the right fit.
Some app development companies use offshore developers so it is important to know if you will have the ability to collaborate in person with the development team if this is going to be an important factor for you.
What is an offshore developer?
Offshore development relates to any software development that is outsourced to a foreign supplier. Third party software developers can often be in India, The Philippines or China. This type of development is becoming more and more popular. Due to technology, it is completely possible to outsource to a country that has the technology and capability to build the software abroad and it is often a faster, more cost-effective route.
Consider an off the shelf “White Label App”.
App development can often be an expensive project depending on the complexity of the development, for example an on-demand app can cost well more than $100k +.
A white label app is a generic app that is produced by one company and sold to another business to rebrand and call their own.
App development companies are now offering this option as an out of the box solution to assist entrepreneurs and businesses at a more cost-effective price.
You as a business have the option of choosing a standard app duplicate which is customised to your business but has the fundamentals of a tried and tested app.
Alternatively, there is another option called a multi tenancy app whereby multiple tenants all use the same platform however their information and data is kept separate and private.
A white label app can often be more cost effective as it reduces software and development costs, can be made, and launched quicker and has less risk than making a fully customised app.
Prototyping and testing
Your business may already be running at a profit and as mentioned before, an app may just be to compliment your preexisting business. But for some, venture capital and investment are needed to assist with growing the business. This is where app prototyping and testing is key.
An app prototype is a mockup of the app and will look exactly how the fully developed app will look without spending all the time and money on developing the app itself.
There are different levels of complexity with app prototypes. The very simplest wireframes can be created to show “the bare bones” of the app or something a little more advanced and can include your business colouring and branding and if often a very exciting thing indeed to finally see your idea brought to life.
Did you know that 18% would delete an app immediately if it froze for just five seconds. Therefore it is important that your app is user friendly and engaging. This is what we call UI/UX, in layman’s terms UI is User Interface, this is where the interaction between the app and the customer takes place. The UX is the User Experience, think of it as the app’s “customer service” the better the experience the customer has while using the app the better it is for the business.
Does the app provide the service that the user is looking for? Is it a pleasant experience for the user? All these things matter. The last thing you want is your customer or client getting frustrated whilst using your app!
This is where app prototyping and design is so important, to eradicate any problems that your users will face when the app goes live.
Make sure your branding is on point!
Today, branding is everything. It is important that your brand is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and more importantly looks good on a smartphone.
If we look at some of the apps that are currently on most consumers’ home screens, we start to see ongoing trends. The flat icon is now being used by Instagram along with Netflix and Pizza Hut. By staying ahead of the game in terms of trends you will have an edge over the competition.
If you do not already have a logo and branding in place, it will be beneficial to reach out to your development team to see if they can assist with the brand identity of your company.
Most app development agencies will have graphic designers in house that can create a style guide for you which will include logo and brand guidelines.
Costs and investment
The costs to build an app are ongoing with continuous maintenance of the software and the possible growing features to be added as the business grows. It is important to have a rainy-day fund for the ongoing rollercoaster that is app development. Also bearing in mind that there will be marketing costs to launch your app properly and gain users.
Again, research is key to setting your budget; do you want to create an app that is simple and has minimal functionality? If this is the case, then you may be able to create something around the $10k mark.
However, if you are hoping to create a fully customised app that has a dual platform and several portals then you could be looking in the region of $100k plus. If this is the case, then it is time to find investment!
There are several ways to gain investment, you may have friends and family that want to be a part of the journey with you or there may be opportunities with various private investors who have an interest in the industry you are embarking into in return for a stake in the business.
It is important to note that by giving away equity in your business you may lose some rights as to how your business is run so opting for private investment is a risk however the rewards may be that your investor has a multitude of connections and more experience than you do – think along the lines of Dragons Den or Shark Tank!
Tech giant Gartner reported in 2019 that mobile apps were predicted to have the highest impact on a business’s success by 2020 and they have been proven right.
App development is on the rise and for an ambitious entrepreneur or startup, app development will be crucial to their business because software and in particular contactless technology is the future, particularly since the pandemic where society has been plunged into a world of lockdowns and social distancing.
As we move forward it is important to note that there are still several apps that do not exist yet and have not been created. The market is crowded but it is not full. So, if you think you have the conviction, the time is now!
Lara Blake is the Business Development and Marketing Manager for Media Shark based on the Gold Coast, Australia. Media Shark specialise in App Design and Development.