1. Keep it Simple

When creating an app, decide what the specific purpose of your app is and create it to do just that. Be careful not to add in more and more features. Do not try to be everything to everybody. The mobile app space is the perfect space for a niche, the tighter the niche the better. It is better to have less, but make sure what you do have is exceptional. This leads me to my next tip.

2. Test, test, test

In real estate the key phrase is location, location, location. In apps it is test, test, test. You want to give your user the best experience possible. If an error message appears, the app does not do what the user expects, or if it just shuts down, the user will soon be deleting your app or sending it to their graveyard on their phone (the place you have decided to keep apps that you no longer use, but do not wish to delete just yet). It is not good enough that just your code works but…..

3. Spell check

This goes without saying. If the program you are developing your app in does not have a spell checker, then create your wording in something that does. Have someone who is not familiar with your app to read over it, carefully. It is amazing how we can just read over misspelt words, just because the content is familiar to us.

4. Solve a problem

What are you trying to achieve with your app? The best apps solve a problem for the everyday person. Don’t try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist for real people and remember what I said earlier; do not try to solve everything in the one app. Choose one problem and solve it.

5. Build a following

There are millions of apps out there, so how do you get known? The best way is to start building a following even before your app is released. Your following can be on a blog, podcast, YouTube, Facebook page, etc., it is up to you and where you feel most comfortable. You can use more than one but like anything, it is better to do one channel well than 6 channels poorly. If you have your own following, you are then not reliant on iTune store or Google Play to get your app known.

You do not need tens and thousands of followers. It is better to have a smaller number that is engaged with your idea for an app. You can use this audience as a sounding board to bounce your ideas, app layout, etc. on.

Yes, a few apps seem to go viral, but ‘few’ is the key word here. This does not happen to the majority of the apps out there. You need to get out and find your own following.

6. Design, design, design

This is a bit like test, test, test; the design of your app is equally important.  Consider your graphics, navigation, etc. Get out a pencil, sketch pad and eraser and get your ideas down on paper. In the tech world these are called wireframes or mock ups and can be done digitally, but are much more fun sketching by hand.  Plus you do not need to learn a new software.

Not sure what I am talking about? Go to Google and enter ‘Images for app sketches’ and a whole array will appear.  It does not matter if you cannot draw.

Once you have your ideas and pages sketched out, show them to some real time users and get some feedback.  Use friends, relatives, work colleagues and your followers, anyone you can get hold of, the more honest the feedback the better. Just remember, listen to all feedback, but do not lose sight of what you specifically wish your app to achieve. There will be many out there that will say, it would be great if it could just do this. Remember my previous tips of keeping it simple, not to have more features creeping in and remember, you cannot be everything to everybody.

A final point here is to read the Design Standards and Guidelines for the app stores, Android and Apple.

These will help you to understand what is expected by each of the stores.  If you decide you want to deviate from these, then that is up to you, but remember the user is used to the look and feel these guidelines espouse, so only do it after careful consideration.

7. Native vs Web app

This is now starting to get technical, but it is something you need to consider. I will not go into details here as I have covered this info in a separate article Link to Article.

8. App developers

Do you hire a local developer or an overseas developer? Local developers, especially here in Australia, tend to be more expensive than sourcing a developer from a site such as www.freelancer.com.au.  If you like to work face to face with a developer, rather than by email or an internet site, then local may be a better fit for you. The only thing I would say is that either way, you have to be very clear with what you want. This is where those sketches will come in handy. Sometimes sitting with someone and explaining what you wish to achieve is a whole lot easier than trying to explain it in writing.

9. Be passionate

Building an app takes a lot of time and commitment. If you are not passionate about what you wish to create then you may find it a hard slog. Remember, not everyone makes money out of creating an App. The saying ‘Build it and they will come’ does not necessarily apply to apps. There may also be a lot of frustration with your developer as you try to explain your concept, or they have different ideas about design or layout. There will be a lot of ups and downs, so being passionate about your app will help in those frustrating times. I am not trying to put you off, you just need to be aware.

10. Be patient

If you are passionate about your app and it is more about getting it developed and made available to the public than making money, then that is all good. If though, you do want to make money from your app, then you need to be patient. You may also have to realise at some point that your app is not going to be the success you want it to be. So, even though I have said to be passionate about your app, you also have to be willing to let it go.

Most overnight success is many years in the making. Rovio who created Angry Birds, created 51 titles before Angry Birds, and the designer who developed the idea had pitched 200 screenshots to Rovio in the previous two months.  Even then, it was eight months and thousands of changes later, that they were ready for release.

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