What To Do When You Have an App Idea

We all get inspired with ideas beyond our skillset. We come up with the perfect superhero movie while driving to work, or a new gadget that would be all the rage in the land of late night infomercials. And considering the amount of time all of us spend with our phones, you or someone you know has come up with a fabulous idea for a new app.

What to do when you have an app idea

The superhero movie will most likely never happen unless you're friends with Joss Whedon, and as far as the infomercial gadget goes, you’ll sober up eventually. But the app? That’s doable.

You probably already know that designing and building an app is easier than producing a blockbuster movie or engineering a physical product from scratch. An app is a software, and it involves a lot of coding. There have been numerous innovations over the last couple of years that have removed much of the heavy lifting – i.e. not every app has to be built from the ground up.

In the meantime of trying to jump through the fiery hoops of coding, here are some tips on taking the first steps to develop your app idea.

#1. Uncover the Scope and Purpose

The first thing you’ll need to do is define the scope of your app. Will it be doing something simple, or is it going to be more complex? Complex doesn’t mean calculus. It means that your app will have to do a lot of things, for example the Amazon app. The more complicated an app, the more likely you’ll need to bring in outside help.
Secondly, define what your app will do in exact terms. Back to the Amazon app, this app offers more than just shopping. It lists products, links accounts, searches inventory, adds to cart and so on. The things you want your app to do need to be just as clearly defined.

#2. Who Will Be the Developer?

If your app needs to be built from scratch, there’s a good chance you’ll need a developer. A quick search will produce pages of companies all willing to help individuals develop their brilliant idea into an app. That leads to this obvious warning -  watch out for shady partners and scams. Only work with people who have the expertise to develop your app idea with a proven track record. A startup might give you a huge discount to create a portfolio, but check out the company and the people who make up the team. While their business might be brand new, the ones who started it should have experience making apps, and have personal portfolios of what they've done.

If you’re confident enough to develop yourself, proceed to number 3.
 

#3. Choose Your Platform Wisely

Once you know what your app scope and purpose is, research platforms. Technology changes at the speed of light, so stay current on your research. Your app will need a platform that best fits your scope and purpose. Some companies make platforms where clients can build apps affordably in much the same way that Wix or Squarespace lets people create websites.
Take time to look at the companies that provide platforms or even will do the job for you entirely. Some platforms will provide a stronger commerce integration than others, while the next one might be the best option if you intend for your app to be primarily used on tablets.

#4. Be Fully Committed

Building an app takes time. After all, you’re goal is to create an app that gravitates user retention, so don’t rush through it. The developing process is critical since you’ll be developing an idea so that people can interact with it. Communicate, plan and strategize. Depending on the application scope and purpose, it could take 4 to 6 months to create and this is only the beginning of your apps life. The beauty of a successful app is maintaining, improving and updating.

#5. Pricing

Apps are not cheap. They range from $50,000 to $1,000,000. If you have a really great idea, you may be able to find investors. You’ve got to scale out costs and potential capital. Working the numbers is essential. How much will you charge for your app? And how much will it cost to build? What will be the ROI? There are 2.2 million apps just on iOS alone, so you’ll need a business plan as to where your app falls into the pool of the other 2 million apps out there. Does your app fill in a gap? If so, you may have more potential than you think.

#6. Leave Room for Marketing

Don’t overlook marketing. If a potential user isn’t aware your app even exists, it doesn’t matter how amazing it is. They won’t buy it if they don’t know about it. This is another area where outside expert advice can help. Remember that bad marketing can kill even the best ideas. Look what happened to Firefly. The right marketing expert could even help you find funding via Kickstarter or Indiegogo, should you need it.


#7. Take Away—Think Long Term

Another smart step to take is to talk to a lawyer. While copyright law in the US can be a convoluted mess, should the worst come to pass, and you find yourself in court, having a legal foundation to fall back on can make a big difference. Just remember these three basic copyright rules. Ideas cannot be copyrighted, no matter how awesome they are. Names can’t be copyrighted, but they might be trademarked. Rules also cannot be copyrighted, which is why we have so many unlicensed Monopoly knock-offs like Horse-opoly.


Final Thoughts:
Apps are a large part of how we communicate, learn and entertain ourselves. Though there are around 2.2 million apps just on iOS, there are still gaps. If you find yourself sitting on an idea that’ll contribute to the world of applications, be sure to take the proactive steps necessary to bring your idea to people’s fingertips the right way.

This is a Guest Post written by Ryan Stewart.


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