You have a revolutionary app idea that’s guaranteed to make lives easier and alleviate process deficiencies. The idea has matured and solidified, but the same cannot be said for your development roadmap.
Deciding to reach out to a developer is overwhelming if you lack the technical background to substantiate what they're saying or even confirm their skillset. At this point, you may have no idea which programming language to use, what the user experience (UX) should look like, or what kind of development resources you’ll need to send a finished product to market.
Under these circumstances, the initial conversation can go like this:
Alternatively, the conversation may resemble:
To prevent such experiences, use this article as a 5-step guide to move beyond ideation. The 5 steps are:
- Is your idea as solidified as you think it is?
- What does your budget look like? Are you funding it yourself, or do you have people backing you?
- Who are your intended users, and how will you monetize?
- Describe your ideal timeline.
- Do you have a development roadmap?
Step 1: Is Your Idea as Solidified as You Think It is?
If you’re here, you understand the importance of getting your proof of concept out there, as well as eliminating any ambiguity surrounding functionality, the targeted market, budget, and timeline.
But these concerns are secondary to the main — and most difficult — question you should ask: Will my idea succeed in the actual marketplace?
We are amidst a technological boom, feeding off a powerful influx of programming tools and data streams that we had no means of accessing before. We are screen-driven, cross-channel enthusiasts with an insatiable hunger for better lifestyles.
The app market is booming because 51% of the world has internet access—that’s 4 billion potential customers with a majority of those also possessing a smartphone. However, more than 3 million apps are available on Google Play while the App Store adds thousands of apps monthly.
The market is densely populated by app developers. And unfortunately, in a saturated market, there is not enough share for all players to be wildly successful. This study indicates the year-to-year growth of the mobile market has plateaued, meaning there is a disconnect between the number of apps created and the number of users. The average user only launches 9 apps a day.
To evaluate how your idea will fare in this climate, start by assessing the competition. Is there anyone who has executed a concept similar to yours? If so, how many companies will you be battling for customer loyalty? How will your product triumph over the current offerings?
If you're building a new market, know its estimated size. If you're tapping into a pre-existing market, know the resistance.
Inevitably, there will be holes in your idea and design flaws that do not translate into a viable product. Even in the ideation phase of app development, things can fail. Poke as many holes in your concept as you can, and patch them up with solutions. These updates will produce a more resilient app in the long run.
Step 2: What Does Your Budget Look Like? Are You Funding It Yourself, or Do You Have People Backing You?
The second question developers ask prospects is: Tell me about your budget.
Budget planning puts segment app visionaries into two distinct categories: those with a solid plan and those without any budget or foresight.
Functionality and pricing are positively correlated. In custom development, everything is tailored to the client — the project, the pricing, and the development team. As you add functionality, you add another few miles to the roadmap. A longer roadmap equates with a larger budget.
There is no one-size-fits-all pricing structure we dole out to every individual. After all, a unique idea calls for a unique project plan and strategic approach.
Most of the time the conversation ends right here. Either the client didn’t anticipate the costs or lacks a sense of urgency to get the project rolling. We then part ways, agreeing it’s not the right time yet, but leaving the door open for when it is the right time.
App developers are there to give you direction, but you should dictate the parameters. The roadmap from concept to code can take you in multiple directions. After tackling the budget, app developers take your idea full-speed ahead. Find an app development company that is transparent about the costs, and in return, you can be transparent with your budget.
Step 3: Who Is Your Intended User, and How Will You Monetize?
With iOS users making up 35% of the mobile market, the decision to develop only on one platform cuts the potential user base in half.
Likewise, expect users' favorite platforms to be accessible on a range of devices, each with the same UX across all channels. The greater the interoperability, the stronger the market.
The target market also dictates the budget. For example, if we're engineering a platform for both iOS and Android devices, we will need to allocate more than one resource for development—one iOS developer and one Android.
If you want to obtain investors later on in the process, I suggest using a well-illustrated monetization model.
Your monetization model should tell you how wide you need to cast your net. Will consumers need to purchase your application outright or will you leverage ad-based revenue? Maybe you decide to move forward with both.
In the hierarchy of app development needs, monetization should be a clear priority. If your application isn’t going to make money, investing in its development is a hard sell.
Step 4: Describe Your Ideal Timeline
The most successful app development projects are goal-centric and a timeline keeps everyone on the same wavelength with a unified method to measure progression.
Clients typically communicate their ideal timelines prior to kickoff, set soft or hard deadlines, and implement checkpoints along the development roadmap.
Yes, we have segmented the app development process into 5 steps, but in reality, everything is interconnected. As the graph below represents, each dimension overlaps with the other components and acts in reaction to them.
Depending on the urgency, you may need to scale your resources, which in turn, drives up the costs. Increasing costs may lead you to rethink your development roadmap.
Step 5: Do You Have a Development Roadmap?
If there are budgetary limits, build a minimal viable product or platform (MVP) to pilot your proof of concept for investors.
An MVP can be a test-run for your monetization model as a prototype to incite interest.
By nailing down the core concepts behind your idea, you can predict how your desired target market would interact with a more complex platform.
Build a viable solution and then aggregate the feedback. Learn where there are holes in the design.
It’s a great way to test scalability.
Why Preparation Matters
It’s common for app visionaries, without the technical background, to assume app development is an all or nothing situation. But the process is almost never that simple.
Without the basic components—a resilient vision, a sense of urgency, and a reliable source of funding—it might be time to return to the drawing board.
About the Author
William Dawsey, VP of Sales at Chetu Inc., offers insights into the changing tides within the app development landscape, discussing how emerging technologies will rattle the pre-existing architecture. Chetu Inc. is a custom software provider specializing in migrations, system integration, app development, and other software solutions.