It’s safe to say that mobile apps have become an integral part of our daily lives. These powerful tools have revolutionized entire industries and have inspired a new breed of mobile focused entrepreneurs.
It’s important to know that the path to millions of downloads and venture capital does not happen overnight. The stories of overnight startup success can often skew the reality of the planning and dedication required to build a truly great mobile application.
After hearing hundreds of app ideas since I Co-Founded Teeps, I wanted to share the five questions we encourage every client to answer before writing a line of code.
What problem am I trying to solve?
Most app ideas are sparked from a pain point in our daily lives. There is a hope that this problem could be remedied with a piece of magical software. I remember walking through a mall in Katy, TX and first using Shazam to find out what artist’s song was playing on the speakers. I was blown away! What an amazing tool. Press a button and learn about music that you may never otherwise have had the means to.
Chances are, if you are experiencing a problem that an app can solve, there are quite a few people who may feel the same way. Solving a problem is the first step in building a great app.
Does my app idea already exist?
Ignorance is bliss, right? Until you invest tens of thousands on an app idea without doing the proper research. We always encourage potential clients to research the market for existing apps, platforms, and businesses that are similar to theirs. If you have a great idea for a niche social network, it’s crucial to know what other platforms exist in that area.
Don’t be scared, competition is not a bad thing. In fact, understanding your competitors in a mobile space can save you time and money. Someone may have thought of your idea first, but you can learn from their mistakes and build something better. Google wasn’t the first search engine, and now, they are Google.
Should I start with iOS, Android, or Both?
The ideal scenario would be to build your app and have it available to as many users as possible. Currently Android and iOS account for 96.4% of the global smartphone market share (84.7 and 11.7 respectively.) That being said, it’s important to know your potential users and what devices and operating systems they are using.
Another factor is budget. Android and iOS apps are written in two completely separate programming languages. With the exception of sharing graphic assets and a database, writing for both platforms is the equivalent to building two separate apps. Which means you can anticipate double the cost. There are cross platform or “hybrid” solutions out there, but Teeps focuses only on “native app development.” This is a fancy way of saying we build apps using the programming languages meant specifically for the devices they are running on. This provides the absolute best quality.
If you are an entrepreneur needing an MVP (minimal viable product) to test the market, we would encourage starting with iOS. If you are a business wanting to build an enterprise solution for your team, both platforms may be the best option.
What is my timeline?
Did your app idea come to you in a dream last night or have you been planning for quite some time? Perhaps you’ve been busy talking to potential users, building a business plan, and raising funds. No matter what stage you are at, developing a potential timeline for your app is important. A medium size iOS application can take anywhere between 8-12 weeks to plan, design, and build. Developing an app requires hundreds of hours and coordinating your timeline, product launch dates, and marketing plans with your development team is a must.
We often have clients approach us to build an app, but the features and functionality have yet to be defined. We absolutely will help with co-creation of an app’s user experience, but it’s important to know what stage you are in. We’ve also faced the scenario of a new client with an existing app in need of a crucial update. They were preparing for a national campaign and their deadline for submission to the App Store was less than 24 hours away. By clearly communicating their timeline (and a staggering amount of coffee) we were able to deliver.
What is my Budget?
Mobile apps are expensive. Because of their familiarity and intuitive design, it is easy to forget how complex a mobile app truly is. These are custom pieces of mobile software, handwritten by a skilled computer programmer over weeks and months of time, harnessing intricate math equations and algorithms that are bundled up to let you browse Instagram without a care in the world.
I use the analogy of buying a car when speaking to clients about the costs of an app. If we were to both imagine a car in our minds, I may see my aging Chevy Cobalt and you may see a shiny new Porsche. Both are indeed cars, but their prices are dramatically different. Both cars will get you from A to B, but only one has leather seats, carbon ceramic brakes, and 430 horsepower. It all comes down to the features, complexity, and objectives of your app.
Hiring an experienced team like Teeps, a medium sized app can start at $30,000 and go up depending on the scope of the project. While you could find a freelance developer or technical co-founder for your app, a development team can provide the best quality and guidance for your mobile strategy. You receive a dedicated project manager, developer, and the collaboration of our entire team working together to bring your app idea to life. We’ll touch on price in greater detail in a future post.
As with any project, proper planning, the proper team, and execution are fundamental to its success. Ask yourself these questions when pursuing a mobile app. Our hope is to better prepare you for success and to build incredible mobile solutions together.