Idea to App Store: Step 1 Firming Up the Concept

So you want a mobile app for your company but you don’t know how to get it built? In this series of posts I’ll tell you all about how you go from idea to App Store. We’ll cover all of the steps: from firming up your initial idea to finding a developer to getting your app out to your clients.

Today we’ll talk about the first step, firming up your app concept before talking to developers. The posts in the series will include:

  1. Firming up your app concept, before talking to developers
  2. App design: What does your app do?
  3. How to find the right app developer for your project
  4. Engaging a developer: Contracts, milestones, and other considerations
  5. Working with an app developer: Communication and testing
  6. Putting your app out there: App Store submission and what happens after launch

Firming up your app concept, before talking to developers

Before jumping in to finding a developer, there are a few things you should plan out to create the very best app for your company and your customers. First, step back and figure out why your business wants an app, what is it you’re trying to achieve:

  1. What does the app do for your business?
  2. Who is the app for?
  3. What does the app do for them?

I covered reasons you might want to release a free app in another blog post. Some of those approaches apply to paid apps as well: you may want to target your existing customers with an app as a new product, build brand recognition, or offer an app to enhance the use of your existing products or services. So figure out what it is your company is really trying to achieve with this app. And don’t stop there: think about who you want to use the apps: what kind of jobs they have, what kind of things they enjoy, the kind of person they are, etc. The more real you can make this person in your head, the better the app will be for your target clients.

Make sure you’re offering value to your users before expecting to get something in return.

Now why should they use your app? What will it do for them? There are 2 reasons that explain why people use nearly any app: to complete a task or for entertainment (usually games or media consumption). Generally, task-oriented apps are best for an established business to create. You don’t see a lot of apps that are like Microsoft Excel where you can do 100 different things and it’s kind of like a Swiss Army knife. Apps are generally very focused on a single purpose: you may have one app for dictating, another for managing your calendar, another app for streaming music, etc. Apps that try to do too much don’t give your potential customers a clear picture of your business’s focus and capabilities.

Games can work to build brand recognition but you’ll need a substantial marketing budget to build up the app since the games space is even more crowded than the general apps marketplace. Unless you’re an established mass market brand, you’ll be fighting a significant uphill battle. It’s difficult for a game to gain users when it’s designed just to be a great game. Expecting a game to also serve as great marketing would make it even more difficult to create a game that will gain a large following.

As an example of a task-focused app that would be an asset to a business, suppose you’re a bank looking at offering a mobile banking app. Your target users are primarily your existing clients. Existing clients will care about your app because it will give them a quicker and more convenient way to do some of the tasks that they use online banking for. It’ll make their finances simpler and more accessible to them. For you, it will reflect well on your brand since it shows you’re keeping up with the times. The app might also help prospective clients to see your business as progressive and customer-focused.

People won’t bother with an app that doesn’t clearly help them accomplish a task they care about.

So for step 1, figure out how your app can serve the interests of your business by clearly helping your target customers to accomplish a task. Next time we’ll dig into how to go from this core concept to designing the screens and functions of your app. If you have any specific concerns you want to be sure that I cover, contact me.

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