In this simple step by step guide, we take you through every step of the process from thinking lean, the cost, funding, protecting and finally the step by step process of building your mobile app from design to launch.
Before you do anything, you need to have done your market research. Why? Because nobody is going to fund an app if you can’t demonstrate that you know your market and what you’re doing. Set out exactly what your app will do. Explore everything from your app’s local and international competitors to current trends. Analyse everything from pricing and your target market to your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Equally important is your brand – establish a unique brand and strong strategy from the outset. This is essential, as mobile app investors understand the power and potential of branding.
Taking the MVP approach and thinking lean
Thinking lean and starting with an MVP is the way to go. MVP stands for minimum viable product which in simple terms refers to a basic version of an app with minimal, yet important defining features that is designed for initial launch and to gain vital user feedback.
Why create an MVP app?
- Speed – if you’ve a brilliant app idea that you need to launch fast before the competition and reach early adopters, a minimum viable product is faster and easier to develop.
- Cost – as MVP solutions are quicker to develop, they involve less design and development time and are therefore more cost-effective at launch stage.
- Testing – launching MVP software gives actual users the chance to fully test everything, identify pain points and ensure everything works as it should.
- Direction – user feedback and suggestions are incredibly useful and enable you to develop the full version.
How to build an MVP app
- Confirm that there is a genuine need for your mobile app, set business goals and how you will measure success of your minimum viable product.
- Map out the user journey by thinking like the user. Are there multiple user types? Consider everything from the moment the app is opened to the final user goal.
- Identify any user pain points, try to eradicate them or at least smooth them out.
- Prioritize and build in the features your users need rather than simply want at MVP stage.
- Learn from your MVP app launch by collecting, analysing and reacting to user feedback.
How much does it cost building a mobile app?
The question we are always asked is how much does it cost to make an app? The simple answer is it depends. Lots of factors affect app development cost – the key ones being time and complexity. Generally though, a simple mobile app with minimal features will set you back around £10,000 + VAT whilst a complex one with lots of deep integrations could cost around £100,000 + VAT or more. However, for an accurate price, talk to developers and ensure you get a detailed fixed price quotation with a full breakdown of functionality, features and costs.
Factors affecting app development cost
- App functionality – apps that are designed to perform multiple complex tasks take longer to develop. To reduce the cost, consider launching a minimum viable product (MVP) then adding functionality over time.
- Design – intricate or over-complicated design and visual assets take time for designers to create and for software engineers to program. Question whether there’s a more elegant solution.
- Platforms and devices – to keep the cost of launching an app on both iOS and Android, consider either coding it in HTML5 or find a developer that’s expert in React Native which shares most of the code across both platforms or other such frameworks. Also, the more devices your app needs to support, the more time might be needed to ensure they perform on them.
- Smartphone features – AR, GPS, NFC and other mobile technologies can all add additional functionality but also complexity. Do you really need them, particularly as at the MVP launch stage?
- Integrations – many third-party integrations, such as payment or messaging, have a cost attached and also take time for the developer to build into your app.
- Marketing – as part of your app business plan, you should allow a decent budget for marketing to drive people to download your app.
- Maintenance – realistically, once you’ve launched your app, there will be further development work to maintain, enhance and bring new features to the software.
Obtaining funding for your mobile app start up
You’ve an innovative idea for an app, that’s great, but without funding, it might never get off the ground. If you don’t know how to get funding for an app, then here are six ways for funding app development.
1. Fund an app yourself
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Savings, personal loans or generous friends and family are dependable sources of app funding when an app is in its infancy. However, if it becomes successful and requires development and scaling, you may need other forms of app funding.
2. Find a co-founder
Funding, building and launching a mobile app entirely on your own is a big ask. So why not consider sharing the expense and pressure with a co-founder who can provide the app funding whilst you concentrate on developing it?
3. Crowdfund it
Here’s how to get investors for an app when you’re a start up with zero resources… crowdfunding. Get a persuasive solid pitch together and use one of the leading platforms like Crowdcube, Seedrs or Indiegogo. With some crowdfunding platforms, if you don’t reach your funding goal, the money is refunded to the investors, others might allow you to keep the amount raised in return for a higher service fee. It’s worth also investigating dedicated app crowdfunding platforms too.
4. Dragons & Contests
There are plenty of incredibly successful businesses out there who have secured funding by getting out there and winning it. There are so many ways to do this ranging from pitching to famous business people with cash to invest on a high profile show like Dragons Den, to more realistically entering a contest sponsored by a university or tech company.
Get yourself an Angel
App investors come in many different forms, however they’re not all big companies. Many are entrepreneurs with deep pockets and an appetite for investing in the next big mobile app. They’re known as ‘Angel Investors’. You’ll need to persuade them to part with their money, so ensure you’re upfront and realistic about how much investment you need, how fast you’ll burn through it, that you know your market, what your launch strategy is and why you deserve the funding.
Protecting your App Idea
You’ve dreamt up a brilliant app that is completely unique. It’s pure gold. The one question you are bound to ask yourself is “I have an idea for an app how do I protect it?” The last thing you want is for it to fall into a competitor’s hands. You need to safeguard it and quickly. Here’s how…
Before you even think about talking to a developer or other parties, draw up an NDA and have all parties sign it. It’s essential as you’re likely to be going into a lot of detail and this official contract ensures the information you share is safe and cannot be shared with a third party.
Got a great app idea and want to protect it? Whilst it can be a costly and lengthily exercise, you can apply to patent bespoke components such as an algorithm within the app. We have helped clients do precisely this.
Unless you have your own development team in-house, you might be tempted to turn to a freelance developer to design and develop your mobile app. You might think this is a cheap option, but it could cost you bigtime. Even if you have an NDA with them, they might outsource elements of the project to others who aren’t bound by the NDA. They could then build an identical app. AVAMAE never outsources so that’s never a problem.
Protecting the name of your app is vital. Branding is a huge factor in the success of any app and you can protect the name of your app using a trademark registration. This enables you to trademark a word, name, symbol or device and prevent others from using the same. However, it can’t prevent anyone from creating a similar app with a different name.
You need to ensure that you have purchased your domain name once it has been decided. In order to prevent cybersquatting it’s also a good idea to purchase any other TLD’s or Top Level Domains that might direct traffic away from your primary domain. Try to ensure it’s either the name of your app or as close as possible. It’s proving harder and harder to secure original domain names so you may need to think outside the box or rethink you app name to make sure you get an original URL.
Whatever you do, one of the best ways to protect an app idea is to keep a record of everything from start to finish. Start by documenting the date of the inception of your app and record every stage right through to completion. Include everything you can from initial blueprints and designs to the actual code of the app. If in doubt, save and document it.
Checklist for developing your app
Let’s get down to business. You’ve got a great app idea, you’re thinking lean, you’ve got the funding and you’ve done all you can to protect it. But do you know how to develop an app? At AVAMAE, we have a tried and tested methodical approach to development which gives plenty of scope for creativity but keeps the project progressing and delivers it on time and in budget. Here’s the checklist of how to go about developing your mobile app with your chosen agency.
- Right people – don’t just sign up with the first software agency you see. Check them out on Clutch, see who they’ve designed and developed mobile apps, read case studies, get to know them face to face and ensure the chemistry is right.
- Prototype – a high or low fidelity prototype should be built using software like InVision, Adobe XD, Figma or UX Pin to give a realistic view of its functionality. By laying out the flow and features, you’ll see clearly how users will be able to navigate your app.
- Simplicity – when developing an app, cut out any superfluous features and keep just the core ones. It’ll keep costs down and anyway, there’s plenty of time to add new features once you are up and running.
- Front- end – UI and UX are incredibly important. They’re not just about how pretty the app looks but how easily users get to grips with, feel about it and use it.
- Back-end – built on the cloud, the back-end empowers the front-end with the logic and systems that process all the information. It’s essential to ensure that the back-end architecture is built for scalability and can handle your apps growth.
- APIs – if you want to seamlessly connect applications in order to interact between systems, applications, mobile devices, and apps, you need a developer with API experience.
- Testing – one of the most important steps to create an app is testing. Launch a buggy app and you’ve lost users and you won’t get them back. Ensure your chosen agency tests everything from functionality, performance and UX to security, platform, device and APIs. Then test again.
- Launch – your agency should have a developer account with Apple App Store and Google Play Store in order to release a native mobile app. Once you’ve finished developing an app, and it’s been tested and refined, submit your app. Android apps appear in store in just a few hours. For Apple iOS apps, allow anything from a few days to several weeks for Apple to review them.
- Analytics – by integrating analytics, you can track downloads, engagement and retention of your mobile app.
- Listen, Learn and Improve – app user behaviour, usage and reviews via the App Store will quickly give you the insights you need to improve your App. Constant UX research is key to understanding your users.
- Add features – once you’ve version 1.0 up and running, evaluate it and start to introduce new features. Analytics and reviews will give you valuable feedback on improvements.