As trite as it sounds, all great apps began as ideas. If you don’t have an app idea, the best place to start is to train yourself to always think of things in terms of problems and potential solutions. You want your brain to instinctively ask “Why do we do things this way?” or “Is there a better way to solve this problem?” If you can identify a problem or market inefficiency, you are half way to your idea!
The next thing to do is understand why this problem exists and think about why nobody else has made an app to solve this problem previously. Talk to others with this problem. Immerse yourself in the problem space as much as possible. Once you have a complete grasp of the problem, begin to evaluate how a mobile app could solve the problem.
Once you have an idea, you need to plan for your app’s success. One of the best places to start is by identifying your competition. See if any other apps serve a similar purpose and look for the following:
- Number of installs – See if anyone is using these apps.
- Ratings and reviews – See if people like these apps and what they like/dislike about them.
- Company history – See how these apps have changed over time and what sort of challenges they faced along the way. Try to see what they did to grow their user base.
There are two main goals of this process. First, learn as much as you can for free. Making mistakes is time consuming, frustrating, and expensive. Often, you have to try a few approaches before getting it right. Why not save yourself a few iterations, by learning lessons from your competitors? The second is to understand how hard it will be to compete in the marketplace.
Are people hungry for a new solution? Is there some niche not being filled by the existing options? Understand what gaps exist and tailor your solution to meet them. If your idea is completely new, find other “first to market” apps and study how they educated consumers about their new product.
Unless you just enjoy building apps for their own sake, you are probably hoping to make money on your mobile app. There are several methods of monetization that could work, including: in-app purchases, subscription payments, premium features, ad-revenue, selling user data, and traditional paid apps. To determine which is best for your app, look to see what the market expects to pay and how they expect to pay for similar services. You also need to consider at what point you begin monetizing your app. Far too many apps (particularly startups) skip this step and have a hard time later turning a profit.
This step in the mobile app development process is all about identifying the biggest challenges you will face when marketing your app. Assuming you have a reliable app development and app design team, your biggest hurdles will likely be driving app adoption. There are thousands of beautiful and quite useful apps on the app stores that simply go unused. At this point you need to understand what your marketing budget and approach will be. In some cases (like internal-use apps or B2B apps) you might not even need marketing.