A well-designed mobile app is useful, easy to use, and meaningful. They come in all forms — some are helpful for solving problems or adding convenience to daily activities; others are designed purely for entertainment purposes. A helpful app might help you find the gas station that sells the cheapest gas in your community, or syncs all your social media contacts to make them easy to sort through and communicate with them quickly.
In addition to serving a purpose, in order to be successful, mobile apps need to appeal to the user's visual perception, provide personal insights, and make an emotional connection. For this reason, there are so many aspects of the design process that this article focuses on four key, basic things to consider as you begin the process.
Identify the Purpose of the App
As with any new venture, the first thing you should do is decide exactly why you want to develop an app in the first place. Are you doing it to promote an existing business, or is it to make money? Here are some of the main purposes of mobile apps:
If your app is meant to feature your business or community program, you might be better off turning to an app development company to take care of it for you. They'll consult with you to determine which existing apps you like and can model yours around those layouts. Give them the photos and information you'd like them to include, and they'll put it all together for you. Since you're focusing on getting your name out there, don't charge for your app; offer it for free, and promote it to your customers once it's ready.
Income Generating Apps
If your underlying goal is to bring in revenue, your approach will be significantly different. You'll want to avoid targeting any specific area and make it appropriate for every season. There's a distinct learning curve involved with app design, so consider starting small, learning what works and what doesn't for your market audience, and move forward accordingly.
You can actually purchase source code, design your app, and publish it for between $500 and $1,000 apiece. Plan on putting a cap of $500 on the first few apps you develop, so you don't end up spending your whole app budget on prototypes.
Choose a Platform
Decide which platforms you'll tackle first. Each platform requires developers to know a different language, so it's pretty common to choose one in the beginning to minimize costs. Countless apps are accessed on a daily basis using many kinds of mobile devices these days. Once you're confident in your design on one platform, optimize it for each device, including the new laptop tablet that has recently begun to hit markets.
Will it be Free or Paid?
There's a common misconception out there that free apps to not generate revenue. On the contrary, they can be just as profitable as paid apps. In actuality, the most profitable apps have to options: a free and a paid version. Making money off free apps is made possible through ad networks like Chartboost and PlayHaven that allow you to host ads through your apps. If you start out with both a free and a paid version, watch each closely and see which one brings in more money.
In-app purchases are another source of income through both free and paid apps. At the end of the day though, the apps with the most downloads are always free.
Naturally there are certain concerns that most people who want to make an app for the first time have. Here are the most common ones:
There's Already an App Like Mine
Find a way to set yours apart from the rest. No idea is completely original, but you can put your own touch on it; users may just enjoy yours more that way.
I Can't Spend any Money
Money is helpful, but it's possible to make apps without much of it. Sites like Buzztouch allow you to open an account and build an app for as low as $25.
What if No one Wants to Use It?
You live and learn. That's why you start small and feel the market out. See what works for you and what doesn't. Slow and steady wins the race.
There's a lot of work that goes into app development, and a lot of time too. You'll probably become addicted to your laptop, and you'll probably fail at first, but stick it out. There's money to be made in app design, and if you have the right mindset, yours can be just as successful as any others out there.