So you’ve just had your “ding” moment and you want to build the next big app or website and follow in the footsteps of some of the internets big boys like Zuckerburg, Musk, Spiegel or Thiel, or you just want to create something cool and see where it takes you....
Well there's many question you'll need to answer before you start. So here is some free advise to maybe help you along the way…
Already the same idea online or in the app store?
Before you spend many hours and lots of money creating your masterpiece you need to check that the same idea hasn’t already been done, now I’m not saying you can't make the same and do it better but just look at any competition and see how your idea could beat it or be more useful. Do a lot of research by searching online and in the app stores, look at you own phone as they now come with many apps already installed ! So creating a calculator, torch, converter or photo editor is pointless these days.
Website, mobile app or both ?
This is a very important decision and could save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. You see now days websites are responsive, these websites are designed to work on any platform as it is a custom CSS stylesheet that makes the website look great on any device. So, whether you’re accessing it from your PC, phone or tablet your website will format perfectly making it look just like an app. If you're sure your users will download the app and use it then its best to create both that way you you have a wide market to appeal to, but remember this will cost you more time and money as you will have to code in 3 completely different programming languages to build a Website, Apple app and Android app its almost like creating 3 different products! Then there's all the other coding languages you need to know like Javscript and PHP... There are products out there like React Native for mobile and web use can try, with React you can code once and apply to all as long as it is not to complex but you still need a bit of other native knowledge.
Draw it out, make sketches, take notes
The idea is in your head at the moment but you need to get it down on paper or computer screen. Unless you get everything down and work out every single part of the product you will really have trouble later, what I mean by this is image the complexity of say Facebook, there are 100’s of options and buttons available from every screen and these all have a different use when you select them, this happens over and over as you navigate through the website or app, even the most simple apps have 100's of commands and graphics that need designing and coding so this needs to be correct before you even start or it will cost you making changes and adding things later. To design your product you can simply use some paper and draw it in pencil (use pencil as trust me you will be making many changes!) or I like to use Adobe Illustrator (Ai) which is very simple to use and will allow you to create all the mock up screens, buttons and text whilst also allowing you to drag in screen shots and images to help you create the wireframes needed to code from, once you have finished it can be saved as a PDF.
Creating a set of wireframe drawings
Wireframe drawings are essential to creating the design and function. A set of wireframe drawings are basically every screen in your product (without colour’s and graphics applied) with detailed notes written around them and arrows showing what the buttons and options actually do when selected. You will also need to do a spec sheet detailing every single part of the product describing how, why and what it does.
Creating app graphics
Once you have your product wireframes drawn out and are happy that every single option, button and function navigates the user smoothly through the system and more importantly doesn’t leave them at a dead end with no way of returning to a main menu without exiting the app! then your ready to make the decisions for graphics, colours, font, logo and name.
Graphics, Colours, Font
If you are a master in Abode Photoshop then great just get designing whilst saving images so they can easily be resized to look good on all size screens. However if you are not into graphics then get out your pencils and start to draw your logos and button styles. search Google for images and graphics that will work for you then save them into a file making sure your label everything as by the time you come to code there will be lots of information collected and saved. You’ll need to find a Photoshop designer and send your ideas along with any drawings so they can create the look you are after. If you use an another person to do your coding they will know a Photoshop designer who you could speak to. Choose your website or app colours carefully, Blue is very very popular as it looks nice on a screen but do you want to follow everyone in a sea of blue based apps? When you have chosen your colour palette get both the RGB and HEX code as you need to know this for the coding and designing.
Choose a font that looks good on mobile devices, Facebook uses Helvetica/Roboto and Twitter uses Helvetica Neue, both of these look good so if these use them then they are a good starting point for you. Here is a good place to check www.sitepoint.com
Look online and at your phones apps also go through the app store and see the simple and easily recognizable designs that already exist on sites like... Shub.one, Autocroc, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, You need a logo that is recognisable and says what your product is about, look good and be clear on the tiny logo displayed on a device screen.
Website or app name
At this stage you have probably already thought a name for your app or website, but there are many things you need to take into account when you choose your the name; Is it catchy so people will remember it? Is it already taken? Does it say what the product actually does? As you can imagine there are millions of websites and apps already available and you can’t use the same name as an existing. The first place to check is a domain name registrar like www.lcn.com, enter a name in the search box and see what domains are available, unfortunately a lot of the .com addresses have squatters who are sitting on the names trying to sell them at a mark up price! For an app check both of the app stores, try entering the name and see what appears, this unfortunately won't guarantee it has not been used as some apps are region based so it may not show up in your region, also someone may have already reserved the name whilst they are creating and coding their app with the same name, cleverly Apple only allows you to hold a name for 180 days before removing it from your iTunes connect account and banning you from ever reserving that name again, this is to stop people name squatting and selling them for ransom like with the web domain names. If you are building an app and have reserved an app name with Apple and can see that its is going to be more then 180 days before it is finished then you can upload a binary of the app to give you some more time. Of course you need a developers account to be able to do this. Here is a good place to check Apple first steps
Once you have a name make sure you claim that name on all the main social media sites as soon as you can this is very important !
Build it yourself?
It can take years to learn to code in just one of the languages used and there are many that will be used to develop websites and apps so if you need it built soon then you just don’t have time, its best to hire a programmer.
How do I find a programmer?
There are many ways to find staff you could use our website www.shub.one and search for staff using keywords like app developer, website programmer, designer or coding then from the results look at their previous work and try it out from the project timeline url links. There are other sites like Upwork where you sign up and pitch your idea, its very simple to find plenty willing to work with you but you need to weed out the rubbish first. www.upwork.com
How to find a good programmer?
I find the best way to find a good programmer and weed out the time wasters is to add a sentence right in the middle of your pitch asking for the programmer to call you Superman or Batman when they reply, if they do this proves that they have actually taken the time to read through your idea and are worth adding to your short list. If your only language is English then you need and English speaking programmer, you also need one that will use Skype and chat at times that suit you, they must reply quickly, agree to do the job at a prearranged price and time scale with completion milestones along the way.
Writing the project description without giving the game away
This is very important, imaging you have the next big thing and you broadcast all the details to 1000’s of programmers, it will be stolen right away! A good way is to take your idea and think of a basic way to describe what its about without giving the exact idea away, for example; if you were describing Flappy Birds then you could say “it’s an arcade game where the user taps the screen to control direction of an object through a maze, call me batman in your reply to this job, when the object reaches the end they open up another level, the game will contain in game purchases and must work on android and iOS and integrate with social media.”
As you can see i've described the game without saying to much also i have added the Batman bit and told the programmer that it must work with different operating systems and Social Media, from this the coder gets a good idea if they are good enough to create such an idea or it's just not there area of design.
Choosing a programmer from your short list
So now you have a short list of potential programmers, look through their feedback, check out their previous work and defiantly try it all to make sure everything is smooth, well coded and not buggy. When you find one you like and have a gut feeling that they are right for you then send them a message and ask for a Skype call if they refuse or dither then go on to the next programmer you have short listed.
When you're on the Skype call make sure they communicate well and answer all your question quickly with good answers and no sarcasm or smart assed comments or answers, ask them what they have built before and see if they are passionate about coding, ask them to send you links for work or apps they have done, ask how they would go about building certain sections of your idea to see if they understand and can do what you want done. Tell them that you will only agree to work with them at an agreed total price and time scale and don’t accept an hourly rate and estimated build time or you will get stung.
If all is going well and you get along with the programmer and you think they will do a good job then your going to need to send them your Wireframes, graphics and spec sheets, You can send a NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) but im not sure how well protected you would be in a different country.
Before you send the details ask them how long it will take for them to get back to you with a quote they should be able to look through your details and let you know within 36 hours. When they return with a price make sure there is also a time scale for the fully finished project, all good programmers should know how long it will take, they should also have a lot of questions regarding your product which is good as it shows they have really been looking into your job. If you are happy to proceed ask for the project milestones these are a break down of completed sections of the project, Some developers will ask for a small amount to start the project but i personally never pay more then 10% upfront.
Milestones and Beta testing
Once the project has started and the first milestone has been reached the programmer will send you a beta version and explain what they have ready for you to trial, make sure you test it on all browsers, all screen sizes and all devices as they all display very differently.
Once you both agree that the milestone has been completed then you can pay the pre determined milestone amount.
Remember if you start making changes to the original plan the programmer is in their right to ask for more money and it can extend the timescales especially if they have already completed that part of the job, this is why it is very important to get the drawing and design totally correct to start with.
Keywords and Descriptions
While you are waiting for the programmer to do their part it is a very good idea to get started on the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and also set up your social media accounts (more on this later). For an app think about the app store keywords and app description, this is required and very important to get right to help new user find your app.
If your app requires push notifications, i.e alerts to the user in the form of a ding noise, on screen symbol or little red number in the top right hand corner of the devices screen app logo, then you will need a Push Notification server to send these alert, its not massively expensive and most third party server companies are free up to 1 million messages a month or around for $20 a month for unlimited messages to unlimited devices. Apple Push Notifications
You will need a server to host your website or app to start with these can be shared servers they can be as cheap as $30 a month, but make sure they are scalable incase you have a hit on your hands as you don't want the server to buffer/freeze from demand if this happens your new users may not return! Once your traffic increases (hopefully) then you will defiantly need dedicated servers which can handle lots of traffic but are costly so will require a good cash flow from either yourself, your company, investors or the product generating its own revenue. Remember the app stores are purely portals like shops for users to find and download apps to their devices, all apps need to be hosted on the developers servers at the developers cost.
App Developers Accounts
You need to create a developers account with the Apple, Google and Windows to be able to create apps for their devices. For Apple you need iTunes Connect which is $99 a year. For Android its $25 a year and you’ll also need a Gmail account. For Windows its $19 per year for an individual developer. Something to think about here is your company name and your choice of email address, an email address is required to be displayed on the app store to allow users to contact you, you don’t want spam being emailing your private email as that would get very annoying, so the best solution is come up with a company name buy the domain for it and create an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org . If you only ever intent on building one app then buy the domain name for it and set up the email account.
A Website is required for an app
Does it cost me to put an app on the app store?
Besides the yearly developer account cost there is no other charges and you can add as many apps to the stores as you like, but remember the app store will take 30% of all money you ever make from your app!
App store checks apps before released to the market place
Before your app or an updated version of your app is released to the marketplace Apple checks it throughly for bugs, viruses, spam, banned content, quality, incomplete screens and various other issues this can take approx 8-10 days, Apple will email you the checking progress and outcome hopefully you get the email stating that it is ready for release. For Android apps are not generally checked and can be on the store within 24 hours of release. Check this link for more details appreviewtimes.com
Once your app is released
Once you received the email that the app is available through app store you can tell all your friends, contacts and anyone that will listen to you to install it and give you feedback, get on social media and post, post, post!
To see all the details of how your app is doing log into your developer account to view graphs and tables showing your installs and the regions that it is popular in. Check out www.itunesconnect.apple.com
Social Media is a very important part of life so it is a very important part of getting people to know about your new product, the most important ones are Facebook, Twitter, Shub.one, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr & Youtube. Once you have decided the name for your app or company and bought the domain name its very important to immediately secure this chosen name in all the social media sites, that way once you launch the site/app its very easy for potential users to find links to and information about your product. A little self promotion here..... by using www.shub.one you link all your social media accounts, websites and app store links together into one profile page and then share all these links anywhere with the quick share feature which is awesome, also increase awareness by posting about your new product on the Shub.one News Stream for your followers to read. All Social media posting will improve SEO and help potential customers find you and you.
Getting the world to know about your app
This is a very tricky one, there is no right or wrong formula, take a look at the 4 week craze of ‘Flappy Bird’ It started with just a few Twitter, Reddit and Blog mentions and it started to climb the charts which then gave it more social media mentions and so on this shows the importance of good social media accounts full of images and information about the product. Also there are many Bloggers and tech writers out there that love a scoop and if your product is good they’ll get on their social media and tell the world about it, this is a great way to spread the word. Another way is to pay for adverting on social media and blog columns etc but it all depends on your budget.
How to make money from your app?
It can cost $1000’s to create an app and then cost even more to host it and use Push Notifications, so you need to think about how to generate money for all your hard work. When you first launch a new product you want people to try it and then tell their friends about it and slowly the word gets about but in reality no one will pay up front for an online product that they don’t know if they even want. So the best way is a free to use product this way if they don't like it then at least they tried it, but if your product is good the user will want to upgrade to extra features or added levels, this is a great way to get users interested and start to see all your effort paying off.
Another way to generate revenue is with 3rd party advertising, either pop up adverts or discrete perimeter adverts I find these don’t really generate much revenue if your product is good then you could be cheeky and offer an option to pay to upgrade which removes the ads, this way you get much needed revenue.
Well i hope you have got some useful information from this page and it answers some of the questions you may have.... If I've helped you then please help me by creating a profile for your business or profession on www.shub.one Its FREE and is designed for brand promotion which is exactly what you need as a start up founder!
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