9 questions to ask before creating an app
Before you start developing an app, it is important that you first ask yourself a number of questions. This way you know better what you want and you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your app. Developing an app involves a lot of things. Graphic design, UX design, code writing in multiple programming languages, text writing, testing, placement in the App Stores, marketing of the app. To make sure that the development of the app doesn’t get stuck halfway through, or that your app doesn’t turn out to be so unique after release, it’s good to be able to answer the following questions before you sit down with an app developer.
- What is the purpose of the app?
- Why does this app need to be created?
- What do you want to achieve?
- What is the added value for the user?
- What story do you want to tell?
- What need is met by this app?
For example, a goal can be to facilitate communication between users, to warn users when bad weather is approaching, or simply to entertain users.
- How unique is the app?
- What gap in the market does this app fill?
- What similar apps or other (digital) solutions already exist?
- What is the quality of similar apps? Are they free or paid?
- Is your app idea a better or cheaper solution than the current offer? Does it have unique elements or functionalities?
- Is there a need for a new variant?
- Who is the target group?
- For whom is this app intended?
- Can the target group be reached (online)?
- Is the target group waiting for this app?
If you make a lot of use of mobile apps, it’s almost impossible to imagine, but not everyone is waiting for an app. Not every target group has a smartphone or tablet and knows how to handle it. That’s why it’s always good to map out and investigate your desired target group.
- Do you want an app or a mobile website?
- Do you want an app or do you want a mobile website?
- Are you looking for a native, web, hybrid or other kind of app?
- Does the app have to work on Android, iOS or both?
The development costs of a mobile website are generally lower, the organic findability is greater and no download from an App Store is required. Advantages of an app include that you can make use of the device’s unique functionalities, that you can send push notifications and that the user experience is focused on the device on which it is being used. Also, the graphics of apps are generally better than with a mobile website, an app is faster and you do not (always) need internet to use the app.
- What is the business model?
- How will this app pay for itself?
- How are you going to make money with the app?
- Is the target group willing to pay money for this app?
- Is the target group large enough to make the app profitable?
- How do you ensure that users keep returning to the app?
Of course, not every app is developed with the aim of making a profit. The app can also serve as a branding of your brand or support for a certain target group.
If you do want to recoup your investment, there are several possible revenue models. For example, by requesting an amount per app download from the App Store or Google Play Store or by making the app free and offering in-app purchases. An advantage of offering for free is that the threshold is lower to install and try out the app.
- What functionalities should the app contain?
- What should the app be able to do?
- Do you want to use the camera, GPS or other native functions of the device?
- What are the minimum and what are the desired functionalities?
- Which data, payment or social media links need to be established?
- Does it have to be possible to change and manage data (remotely)?
By mapping out in advance which functionalities your app should have, you will save a lot of time in the research and development phase. It also allows a developer to make a realistic estimate of the costs.
- What quality should the app be of?
- What kind of visual design do you have in mind for this app?
- Does the app have to be functional and professional?
- Do you want a practical flat design or a true digital work of art?
- Which screens do you want to show and in what order?
The costs of design can be enormous. Simple screens with text and buttons in your company’s house style, for example, are a lot less time-consuming than photorealistic, custom-made artwork with award-winning animations. The number of screens that make up the app also plays an important role.
- How are you going to promote the app?
- How do you ensure that your target group knows about the existence of your app?
- Which channels and marketing are you going to use?
- Are you going to invest in App Store Optimization (ASO) and/or marketing?
- Are there ambassadors and testers for this app?
Ten years ago the App Store started with 500 apps and in February 2019 there were already 2.2 million. On average, there are 275 new apps a day! There are now so many apps that it is almost impossible to ‘discover’ them out of nowhere. You will therefore have to think carefully about how you are going to bring your app to the people.
- Do you have enough time and budget?
- Is there enough time to work out your idea?
- Is there enough capital?
- Are there sponsors or investors willing to finance the development?
- Is there also a budget for support and maintenance?
Most apps are not realized and delivered within a few weeks after the start. First you have to make up the functional and graphic design, then the code is written and then you have to test it. And all this work also includes the necessary number of hours and costs.