From idea to takeoff – How to build a successful app
25-year-old CEO of Taste shares best practices for app build-out
My most recent venture is a mobile app that helps people find local favorite restaurants. I get asked all the time, How do you start your own mobile app company? It all starts with a problem, but more specifically, an attempt at a solution. You want your app to accomplish a job for someone more easily and efficiently than they could achieve on their own.
If you have a great solution you to want to bring to life, too, here are a couple app development guidelines to follow:
Test Your Theories
For me, there were plenty of answers to the question:
Where do I want to eat in Denver?
A diner may go to Yelp or another review resource to answer this question, but the problem with that course of action is that a negative review can talk someone out of the best restaurant for sushi, simply because the commentator had one bad experience with the eatery’s pizza. A hungry customer isn’t trying to decide where NOT to go. Since I wanted to help people find a solution to where they SHOULD go, I thought up the concept for Taste, a forum for users to simply award their most beloved spots a “favorite” vote.
The No. 1 reason apps are not successful is because actions were not properly tested before build-out and deployment. Ask questions such as:
Will people download this app?
Is this idea right for a mobile app?
See if your idea is actually a solution by asking:
Does this really accomplish the job of my target audience? or
Is there anyone else doing this already?
By testing these theories, you’ll have a better understanding of how your app will function in the market.
Create an MVP
If these beginning steps are effectively completed and you have sufficient evidence to suggest that your idea will fulfill your target audience's need through a mobile app, the next step is to build a Minimum Viable Product – or an MVP. This is a simple version of your mobile app to establish that people will, indeed, use the product as a solution. For Taste, we started by exclusively building an iPhone app with limited features, nine categories and only a few cities before we expanded to geographies including Denver.
Scope, Design, Build
I have outlined a simple process to successfully build a mobile app: Scope, Design, Build. If you aren't familiar with this, I recommend finding a technical co-founder or hiring a product manager to aid the process. You can also bring on advisors or apply for a tech incubator/accelerator like Techstars.
Write a Scope of Work (SOW) that includes every critical feature for your MVP.
Ask yourself: What does each page need to do?
Create the user experience for each page of your app using drawings or wireframes. Next, create the user interface, or how each page should look and function.
Send your Scope and Design to multiple software development firms or freelance software developers. This will give you an idea of the cost associated with building your app and a few options on who to hire. Once you have hired a firm, manage the process and stick to a timeline.
Ready for Takeoff
The last step in bringing your vision to life is to actually launch your app in the Apple App Store and/or Google Play Store. The most important work comes after your MVP has been released to the world. Once early adopters have the opportunity to start testing your app, you will receive feedback from real users that will shape the future of your company. Talk to customers and learn whether or not you are successfully accomplishing their job. As you receive feedback, iterate until your app accomplishes the goal of your target audience, and becomes a successful solution