20 Things To Do Before You Build an App | Mobile Development Checklist

iOS apps brought in more money last year than Blockbuster films. -readwrite.com

Looking to spend less time in front of a computer and more time at the beach?  Keeping organized and creating Systems Of Protocol (SOP) will help free up development time so you can focus more on what you want to do.

If you have a big app idea, you probably can’t wait to share it with the world.  The good news is, it’s actually a great time for developers to jump in.

Whether you’re new to app development, or even if you have hundreds of apps in the Store, you need a plan to be successful. If you miss something important, it could cost you downloads and revenue.

It’s easy to get sidetracked during the app development process. Take a look at these 20 tips and use them to create a custom mobile app checklist that will keep your projects on point.

1. Refine your app idea

Once you have a general app idea, you can start searching for similar apps on the market. Identify and study the competition. How will your app be different? How will it be better? You can read more about winning app ideas here.

2. Start working on ASO

It’s never too early to start thinking about app store optimization. You want to make sure that people can find your app in the Store. Put together a list of possible keywords and brainstorm great titles for your app.

3. Prepare your elevator pitch

What’s your app all about? Make sure you can easily explain your idea to anyone. Write a brief summary of who the app is for, how you will market it, and why it’s useful. You never know when you’ll get the chance to pitch your app. Be ready.

4. Identify your business goals

What are you trying to accomplish? Whether it’s a revenue target or a certain number of downloads, it’s important to have definite goals in mind. You have to know where you’re going if you want to get there. Set real goals and use analytics to track your progress.

5. Know your users

Who will use your app? How will you reach these people? Learn everything you can about your ideal users. Services like Google Trends, Flurry, and Quantcast can help you get the deets about your audience.

6. Make a list of must-have features

Most people can’t afford every possible feature, so decide what’s essential for getting the app approved and released quickly. Have concrete instructions for your developers. They need to fully understand the requirements, or you might not get exactly what you had in mind.

7. Set your budget

Simple apps can cost less than $5k. Big companies can spend more than $150k on one app. Figure out what you can afford and prioritize must-have features during the development process. For more about app development costs, check out this article.

8. Decide on a monetization strategy

There are lots of ways to make money with apps. Common monetization strategies include:

  • In-app advertising.
  • In-app purchases.
  • Freemium apps.
  • Paid apps.

You may be able to use more than one method to make money. Test several strategies to see what works best for your app.

9. Choose a platform

Will you develop for iOS, Android, or Windows? Since each marketplace has different requirements, it’s important to decide early. Choose a platform that fits your users, budget, and monetization strategy. If you want to release your app on multiple platforms, let the developers know ASAP. It will save tons of time and money.

10. Select a target device

Various devices have different screen resolutions and hardware. You may need to include device-specific tweaks. Always test your app on the target device to make sure that everything works right.

11. Develop your branding

Good branding differentiates your app from the competition. Get your logo, colors, tagline, trademark, and style guide ready as soon as possible. Your branding will set the tone for the overall design.

12. Outline the app design and user interface

Planning the design in advance can lower development costs. Design is an important aspect that can make or break your app. Most successful apps are simple and intuitive. Smooth mechanics and simplicity distinguish the $100 apps from the $10k apps.

13. Understand the development process

Your idea came to you in minutes, but your app won’t be ready overnight. Apps need to go through design, programming, and testing phases. Creating and storing SOPs with screencasts and documentation will help things go smoothly.

14. Work on a development timeline

When would you like to launch your app? If you’re starting from scratch, the development process can take 3 to 6 months (or more). Set milestones for developers to keep the project on track. Document missed deadlines and calculate delays.

15. Uncover hidden assumptions

Take a look at what you think you know about your app. When talking with developers, clearly explain your expectations. Don’t assume anything. The goal is to reduce big unseen dilemmas that can set you back.

16. Establish an online presence

Build a website to market your app and highlight the best features. Most successful developers have a blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel. Use your online presence to document your story as your app grows.

17. Build your network

Coverage from influential bloggers can help your app go viral. Identify the big players in your niche and connect with them before your app even launches. If they get to know you, they’ll be more likely to review your app down the road.

18. Write an awesome app description

Users may not take the time to visit your website. That’s why your app description needs to cover the basics about what your app does and how it benefits users. Need details? Check out this app description formula.

19. Consider privacy and security

This is a big issue that often gets overlooked. Will your app deal with sensitive information? If so, you’ll need to make sure that user data is protected. Talk to your developer about potential security issues and solutions.

20. Plan for support and maintenance

Most apps need version upgrades, regular maintenance, and other support. Who will handle those items? Don’t wait until after launch to ask your developer about supporting bug fixes and minor improvements.

What else is on your app development checklist? Talk to us about it in the comment section.

How to Make An App
 

COMMENTS

  • J. Bargak April 5, 2015

    What is the business model of an app business?

    Is it like getting recurring revenue from existing app users + getting new users daily – one time development cost – recurring maintenance cost

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas April 5, 2015

    @J –
    Great question. The ideal model in app development is to be set your app apart from the rest, get downloads, retain the user, and define a longterm monetization strategy. There are a ton of ways we earn revenue from apps. Ad networks, paid apps, purchases with an app, subscriptions, and cross promoting other products and apps are a few off the top of my head.

    Just like any other field, having a strong business backbone will skyrocket you in the app market. If you’re looking for a place to start, checkout our Mobile Development Guide post for more info.

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