At TechTIQ Solutions, we believe that a successful applications is one that users enjoy using, adds value to them, keeps them engaged, talking about it with their friends and family and fulfills the expectations of the owner of the app.
In the graveyard of web and mobile applications; there’s hundreds of them that no one ever downloaded. Thousands of them that people downloaded, used for a day and forgot about them after a week or so.
Therefore you have to treat an application as a business, with concepts such as customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction in order to not only download your app and use it, but also tell their friends about it.
This guide is intended to guide you through the process of building and launching a successful mobile application way from when it is just an idea, to launching it and using it successfully.
The goal could be to make you a lot of revenue, or to save you a lot of money in automating employee tasks, for the sake of me not having to repeat myself, let’s assume the goal is to make money with the application.
1. Idea phase
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”
You’ve discovered this great idea, or great problem that you think can be solved with a piece of technology, a mobile or web application. Not too fast, before you spend any money developing or throwing marketing dollars at it. We need to first validate if it is even worth pursuing in the first place.
A lot of co-founders fail at this stage, not because they failed to execute, but simply because they were too stuck up with their idea, they got too attached to it, failed to listen to the market, and they failed.
a. Determine your target customer
- Who is the most suitable customer for this application?
- Who do they do?
- How old are they?
- What are their fears?
- What makes them happy?
This is the sort of target persona you should build to understand who you are building this application for.
The target profile will help you drive the entire vision of the application and how it will be built, as well as the marketing content that you will later produce as it will be speaking directly to that target audience.
Take for instance, my target audience are businesses and individuals looking to build and launch successful applications, and that is why I created this piece of content that you are reading now.
b. Determine exactly what their needs are that you are trying to solve
After you have figured out what their exact needs are, you should then nail down the exact problems you are trying to solve with this application and create visions of the functionality of the application.
You do not have to be technical to do this, although a technical co-founder could help you out. For example: If I wanted to build an app that told me the weather depending on the location where i am.
I would visualise it being some screen, where i can click and the phone tracks my location and always displays the weather forecast of that particular location.
I can add that the app would also notify me if it’s going to rain in that location and it tells me what to wear etc.
You get the idea…
I am creating a roadmap in my mind of how the application would solve the user’s problem and how the application would do it.
So at this point, you know who your audience is, you understand what their problems or what value you adding to them through the application, and you have a clear roadmap on how the application is going to achieve that.
c. Research the existing competitive landscape
Have a look at the existing solutions that you are trying to replace, what do they do well, what exactly are you trying to do better.
And ask yourself where you fit in that picture to your target audience.
Sometimes your biggest competitor is actually not other tech products in your space but rather the status quo.
Find out what your competitors are doing, and how perhaps you can make the application easier to use.
d. Determine your monetisation model.
If this is a non-profit application, you can skip this part and move on to the next section in the idea stage.
Now if you are also part of the misled crew that wanted to skip this part because some “startup” guru told you not to focus on the money first, hear me out for a second.
If you are building a for-profit application it is extremely important to start brainstorming and testing out your monetisation models before you even bother with developing the application. It could be a free download with in-app purchases, or it could be subscription based to use the application. Or it could be in the form of rewards from sponsored campaigns in form of bonuses etc as they continue to use the application. Or it could just straight advertising in the application…
You can check out all the different monetisation models here…
Figure out in advance; and talk to your target customers and see if the value you bring to the table exceeds the investment they would have to make into the application don’t just assume it will.
e. Reach out to a few of your audience and have conversations with them; you can do this field test to at least 100-200 people.
This sounds remotely old school, but go out and reach out to your target audience, and have conversations with them about their pain points, the application you are looking to build, and how you think it could help them.
Then listen to them speak…
Listen some more…
Talk to them about the payment plan, and what they like most about the application and see what they think and suggest.
Again, listen to them …
To do this 100 times could mean calling them and speaking to them over the phone, or reaching out to them via social media, or walking to their houses.
Whichever way you choose to do it, just do it!
If it is your employees that you are building the application for, then talk to them and ask them how the application could make their work easier, what they think, and what features they like so far, and what they could improve.
At this stage, if you have done all the first initial steps that we discussed and 100 of the right target audience, with the right challenge, say they don’t like the idea and would not pay for it then three things could be wrong here:
Either the idea is poor and stop wasting your time
It could be the wrong audience
Or I can give you a benefit of doubt that you are probably a “Steve Jobs” or an “Elon Musk” and you will tell the people what they should want.
It’s a bit sarcastic, but in some rare cases, people actually don’t know what they want since they don’t have it yet. But either way, try to sell the vision, if they clearly don’t see it then surely there’s something wrong.
But you can decide to take a bit more risk on it, which i will explain in the next phases where you can attempt to seek some more validation for less risk.
2. Development phase
a. What is the core functionality of the app? Without the bells and whistles.
After you have done the market research, nail down the minimal functions that the application should have to at least bring value to the user without the bells and whistles.
The easiest way to find out what these features could be, is to focus on the problem you are trying to solve and get those features down.
Jot these all these features down along with a user flow of how the application would work i.e if the user clicks here, they will then go there and this will pop up, if they go to
b. Decide on the name as well as buy the domain names and create logos
If everything is great at this point, you can start brainstorming for names that perhaps your target audience could easily resonate to what the application does.
It can be a great short catchy name, and go find out if you can get the domain name from the domain websites, buy them and store them for now.
I understand you don’t even have a working prototype yet, but we shall use those in a second.
c. Initial discussion with the development team and making sure they are on the same page.
Wireframes is just a fancy word for the sketches of what the application would look like based on the roadmap that you came up with and the core functionalities of the application.
This will later give the developers and the designers a visual clue of what’s in your mind and based on the discussions that you have with the development team you can work on these wireframes until everyone is on the same page.
They can be as rough as paper sketches or as neat as using a simple wireframe builder software like FluidUI, but the development team should make updates to them and you keep adjusting them until they are neat and everything is clear from both ends.
It is also important to communicate the vision to the development team so that they understand who they are building the application for, and why they are building it in the first place, this will also get their creative juices flowing.
If you really need a non disclosure agreement at this point to be more open in discussions it is well worth it to sign a mutual one that the developers agree upon too.
Find out how long it could potentially take them to develop the application including testing, and a bit of a breakdown on the milestones that you can track along the way.
At this stage, we believe it’s quite fair to pay within £8000 to £20000 for just the initial prototype, but it will all depend on your requirements.
3. Pre-Launch whilst development is going on..
Now at this point, you have finished discussing the wireframe, handed over the logos and theme colours and the development team has pretty much started developing the product.
The goal of this pre-launch phase is to create a bit of a buzz in the marketplace, and make it a lot easier to acquire your very first users as soon as the application is launched.
a. Design is complete and confirmed.
The very first step that the development team will take will be to produce images/mockups of what the potential design of the application could look like.
Since design is quite subjective, you will have back and forth discussions with them until you nail down designs of the pages of the applications with some mockup content in them.
In other words they will be screenshots of what the application will potentially look like once it is launched.
b. Create a landing page of the application
With those screenshots, create a very high quality great looking landing page with the domain you bought that explains what the application is about as well as screen slides of what the application would look like.
You should add an opt-in form for people to fill in their contact information to be the first to download the application or get some form of reward when the application is launched.
If you want to be fancy, you can also add a countdown to when the application will be launched.
The key here is about a great page that explains exactly what the application is about, and to collect as much information of potential users as possible.
These will be useful as soon as the application gets launched as you will already have a ready audience to tap into and straight away have users on the application.
c. Create relevant content, and freely promote it where your audience hangs out.
Create and promote content that your potential target audience will be looking for online using free methods like blogging, reaching out to influencers, and social media.
The goal is to drive as much traffic to the landing page and collect a lot of user information even way before the application is built.
This approach is against most founders believe that they have to do a mega launch, and keep the idea secret until time to release it. Those most of the time either fail or get a huge spike in downloads after a massive ad budget and pr and in the end, they still fail most of the time.
NB. At this phase, you are most likely going to get the load of comments from customers that would love some extra features and suggestions, and how they really love it, and all these things you could add.
A huge mistake founders make is to add all these features at this point, and they end up stalling the application development because they believe it has to be the most perfect thing ever.
Don’t make that mistake, just listen to the feedback, and keep it in your “features bank”.
4. Launch Phase
At this point, the application has been developed, thoroughly tested and your audience cannot wait to lay their hands on it. You have been slowly nurturing this audience will small snippets, and building the relationship with them as well as keeping them excited about what you are up to.
a. Contact the entire list that you have built up at this point.
Reach out to your entire list through the best channels to connect to them and inform them that the application has been launched and ready to be used.
b. Create a slack group with some of the initial users
It can be a good idea to create a slack group where you can constantly communicate with them from time to time and listen to them as they use the application The goal here is to get as much feedback as possible which will be very valuable in building the next versions of the application.
5. Feedback and more development
After achieving product/market fit you are pretty much almost there. You now have happily engaged users, you are listening to their feedback and are ready to release the next update. Prioritise what features you would want the developers to focus on, based on your customer feedback and have them get started working on them. At this point, we usually suggest that you hire our development team that worked up until then dedicatedly to constantly work on your application. Or we set up for you a smaller agile team of 3 people to constantly work and release updates.
6. Growth, Growth and more Growth
Notice I have not talked about investors up until this point or spending money on advertising, or any of that.
You love certainty, and investors love it too.
At this point you have a functional application, with a valid business model, a great development team, engaged paying active users, you kind of know your metrics i.e customer lifetime value, churn rate, customer acquisition cost.
The path is quite clear now, there’s nothing not to like.
If you brought in investors or even spent money on marketing, you are now simply adding wood to a burning fire at an even faster rate, which is great!
If you try to scale before you do the first 5 steps, I guarantee you, you will be scaling a nightmare.
Now that you have reached this far, go ahead and win! We believe we are the best people out there to work with when it comes to software development.
TechTIQ Solutions is a web and mobile development company based in London with a vast team of engineers, project managers, testers, graphic designers and business analysts.
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