So You Want To Start An App Business?
Apps are a huge business these days, not to mention a big part of our day to day lives! Like a lot of budding young entrepreneurs, you might have some big plans for breaking into the industry with your own app development firm. The good news is that this young niche is still going strong. The bad news is that it’s extremely competitive! Because of this, it’s integral to go in with a solid plan and a keen understanding of app businesses. Here, I’ve written a brief guide to getting an app company off the ground. I hope it brings you that much closer to your dream!
As with any business, it pays to learn extensively about the world of mobile app development before you drop everything and start your business. Seen as you’re reading this, there’s a fair chance that you’re already educated in IT or some similar field. Lacking this, at least some education should be the first thing on your list. Most professional app developers have at least a BA in computer science, software development, or some closely related field. From there, you can go in for a specialised degree or other qualification in mobile app development. This latter option is usually a better choice for people who know the kind of tools they want to be using to develop their app. For example, if you were planning to use the popular development platform Salesforce, then there’s a qualification out there specifically for the developer who’s going to stick to this one method. www.Simplilearn.com has it on their site if you can’t wait to jump in! Of course, there are people who simply self-teach all their programming skills, and break into the industry simply by writing and distributing an app. This is possible, but requires a lot more time and effort you may not have to spare. Still, whether it’s through a certificate or accumulated years in the industry, you should be aiming to get yourself qualified in one way or another.
So, you’ve got the skills you need and now you’re ready to launch your business. Well, not quite! There are still a few ins and outs you have to learn before your app hits the market. First order of business is understanding the difference between native and cross-platform development. As I mentioned before, the app industry is fiercely competitive, and for your first one to be a success you’re going to need to make it as fluid and flexible as you can. What makes this difficult is the fact that all platforms have their own unique coding language. If you were designing an app for iOS, you’d need to know your way around Objective C. If you wanted to make one for Android, then you’d have to use Java and XML. Ensure that you get the coding just right, and you’ll get great performance and dependable API support. Seen as you’re reading this, this program is probably going to be your very first app. If this is the case, then I strongly recommend sticking to one specific platform before you touch cross-platform development.
You may already have a favourite platform for coding apps, but what about the marketplace you use to sell them? After all, I’m sure you want your app company to make some money! There are three main marketplaces where you can sell an app: Google Play, the Apple App Store, and Windows Store. Regardless of which “team” you’re on, there are some clear advantages and drawbacks of each store. If you want to make the maximum possible profit, then Apple’s App Store is probably the marketplace for you. Apple pays considerably more for apps which are developed specifically to be sold, rather than given out. The Windows Store also has a lot of paid apps, but it’s a relatively small operation compared to Apple. On the upside though, it provides apps which can be run on PCs, tablets and smartphones. A significant chunk of the apps sold on Google Play are free to download, and do most of their monetising through ads. This often makes it harder to turn a profit from releasing your app here, but it’s certainly not impossible. In fact, there are many developers who have made more from a paid app than they could hope to with a paid app on the Apple Store. Furthermore, the Apple Store is a lot more exclusive compared to the Google Play market. Apple are pretty strict about the quality of the apps they’ll sell, and it can be extremely hard to get accepted by them as an unsolicited developer. Android is more of an “open mic” arena, where all kinds of new apps are accepted and promoted. Obviously, this makes the market a little oversaturated with bad ideas! However, if you want more exposure in a shorter timeframe, then Google Play is probably where you want to go.
Now that you’ve got those dreary worries about coding and money out of the way, it’s time to get into the fun part – the app itself. You’ve probably read a whole library on app building as it is. Still, I’ll run through a few of the traits that all the most successful apps seem to share. First of all, get the principle in your head that less is often more. Apps are fairly basic programs, designed to run on small devices. Even though there are more complex ones out there, I strongly recommend keeping your app more on the basic side. Consumers tend to prefer a simple interface. Furthermore, if you try to overload a single application with many different features, you could just end up biting off more than you can chew. It’s better to release a series of small apps that serve a single function each than releasing one huge, buggy one that tries to cover it all. Make sure you’re not lazy with the graphics before releasing your app to the public. In the days when smart devices were new, there was a certain amount of DIY, indie charm tied to apps with sub-par graphics. Since then though, our standards have really shot up. If you can’t get a handle on the graphics, then hiring a freelance graphic designer is probably well worth the investment. You can find a pretty good pool of talent from job board sites like www.freelancer.co.uk . On the subject of graphics, don’t brush over your icon design either. This may sound like a minor detail in all the work you have to do. However, this is the first thing your target market will see of your app, and first impressions certainly count in this trade! Once everything seems to be in place, be sure to test your app on as many devices as possible. If there’s one thing the public can’t stand, it’s buggy apps on their phone!
Finally, a little on marketing. Every business needs to be marketed, and your app business is no different. You probably know how quickly a lot of us flick through pages of apps when we’re looking for one, so presentation is extremely important. A lot of the marketing should be in your product description. Don’t make this a dry, technical description intended to boast to other developers. Instead, you want to make it an engrossing sales letter aimed specifically at your target market. Keep it brief and concise, with only a little flashy “ad language”. As I’m sure you’re aware, these days a lot of people don’t have it in them to even read a little block of text! Due to this, it’s usually a good idea to create a video of your app in use, and throw this in with the description. A little industrial espionage could also be a big help to get your app off the ground. Take a look at some of the most popular apps in your niche, and how their product pages differ from yours. Keep an eye out for any patterns when it comes to keywords and related apps, and look for ways to apply the same tactics to your own app. It’s also important to have a decent social media presence backing up your app. This goes for pretty much every business model, but for apps it’s especially important. Social media is where a lot of your target customers are going to find out about your app for the first time, so get pages up on all the appropriate networks and make sure they’re well-tuned. Finally, hire in some SEO promotion for your app. Get some valuable backlinks to your app, and try to weave some handy keywords into the description. This is especially important when it comes to Google Play.
If you were wondering where to start with getting your app idea off the ground, then I hope this post has simplified the whole topic. I’m afraid you’ve missed the boat to be an app pioneer. However, the business is still relatively young, and there’s all kinds of opportunities for people with a good idea, a little coding knowledge and a lot of ambition!