With more than 5 million apps available across Apple and Google’s app stores globally, you’d expect there wouldn’t be too many lessons to be learned about building an app. However, based on what we - and our fellow app developers – are asked almost every day, here are three things every first-time business, government or start-up wanting to build an app should know.
That if you build an app, you’re probably not going to get rich quick!
While Uber and Facebook are actual billion-dollar ideas, such apps are few and far between. Yes, your idea may well be the next SnapChat or Instagram (and we certainly hope it is), but million and billion-dollar apps, no matter how simple, require a lot of work.
“Most people can’t see the countless hours of development time and, in some cases, millions of dollars that have gone into building the world’s biggest and best-known apps,’’ says Guy Cooper, Wave Digital’s Managing Director.
“And, that’s the thing: Developing a successful app is about more than just an idea. It's about the implementation of that idea and the other unseen work that goes into making a successful app successful. It is, often, more about all the work you don’t see than the app you do see!”
“Most overnight successes are anything but,’’ adds Guy. “Many of them have years, if not decades, of work behind them. So, be sure to keep that in mind when you’re thinking of turning your idea into an app.”
That you can just jump in and build your app… without any research
“I think one of the biggest mistakes those wanting to build an app make is that they don’t do any research with potential customers before approaching an app developer,’’ says Guy, who has overseen the building of hundreds apps since he took over Melbourne-based Wave Digital in 2013.
“It’s not a terrible thing because people who want to build an app are often very passionate about their idea and they truly believe everyone else will be. But that isn’t always the case and, by doing a little research, they can find that out before they spend any money.”
Wave Digital can help first-timers with the research phase of their app development, but it is best if clients do some market research before approaching an app developer.
“It doesn’t have to be a survey of 1000 people, but even knowing the basic numbers within your industry or what problem your app idea will solve will help. You should also ask yourself if someone else has already solved the same problem and who is having the problem you think your app will solve.
“You just might find that the problem you’re trying to solve isn’t one that’s big enough to warrant the time, effort and money that will go into developing your idea,’’ says Guy, “or that someone else has already solved it. But, hopefully, this initial research will actually show that the problem is big enough – and you’ll be the first to try to solve it!”
That the first version of your app has to be perfect
The first version of most apps won’t ever be the final version.
“App development is iterative,’’ says Guy, “there is never a straight line to a solution.
There are learnings to be had along the way so you should approach your app development from a long-term perspective and with the knowledge that you will learn as you go and improvements will need to be made, especially once your app is in the hands of real users.”
“It’s a long process,’’ says Guy “and app development is not suited to anyone who expects immediate results or an overnight success. It’s really important to be realistic about your timeframes and your expectations.”
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