How to Launch a Mobile App (Even if You Haven't Built One Before)
My friends and I have ideas for new mobile apps almost daily. The hard parts are turning our ideas into a reality and figuring out which one is actually plausible.
Apps come in all forms but can usually be broken down into three main categories -- apps that cater to a need, apps that make tasks easier and apps that are for pure entertainment. Each app segment will have a different marketing strategy. For example, if your app is a mobile game, you’ll probably develop a social-based marketing campaign. Figuring out your strategy is vital to your success because every app relies on building a user base to generate revenue.
Ghedalia Gold-Pastor of 417 App Studio LLC, developed, launched and marketed his app without technical knowledge. It was quite an endeavor. Gold-Pastor, a junior at the University of Maryland, started 417 App Studio after brainstorming application ideas with his roommate (417 was their dorm number).
They came up with Puzzable, a photo sharing app that sends photos to friends as a puzzle. Without any technical knowledge, here are the four steps Gold-Pastor and his team took to set up and develop Puzzable:
1. Validating the initial idea. Through an initial brainstorming session, several app ideas arose for Gold-Pastor. Write your ideas down and try to break holes in them. Why wouldn’t they work? Why would people want to use your app? Look at the market to see what else is out there. Gold-Pastor says he was inspired by games like Words With Friends and Draw Something, both with had huge acquisitions.
2. Figuring user interface and graphics. Once you have your initial concept dialed in, the next step is figuring out how you want users to interact with your app. Your user interface will determine the feel of your application. Small details like deciding how the buttons look on your app’s homepage can make a huge difference. Gold-Pastor says his team developed wireframes to show their developers to ensure their app looked exactly how they wanted. Wireframes are basically a page by page map of your application.
3. Test and retest. Once you have a working function of your application, it’s time to start seeing what people think. Hit up family, friends, and colleagues to get you feedback. Most applications have a closed beta-test before they launch. This means they select a group of people to test their functioning application before it is launched. During your tests, you may find bugs that need to be fixed by your developer or user interface improvements that can be made.
4. Iterate and launch. Once you feel comfortable with your app, it’s time to submit it to the app store through Apple and/or Google. This process can take up to a week and often requires changes to your application. For Gold-Pastor and his team, they were admitted to the Google Play store in three days but had to make changes to their application for Apple. Once your app is approved, be sure to tell everyone you can about what you are doing. You never know who will download it!
Gold-Pastor brought Puzzable to life in under a year. He had no previous technical knowledge, yet was able to utilize connections around the world to help with the development process. He reached out to the computer science department of his university and connected with developers as far away as India. Your developers don’t have to be in-house for an initial launch and it’s often easier to bring on developers to your team once you have a viable app.