So you are ready to launch your own tech startup** or web/mobile app? Firstly great and congratulations! Secondly, I hope you are ready for some hard-work!? 😮
** This article is equally relevant for enterprises (process much the same).
This article is a follow-on from my previous I have a great idea for an app but no money, where do I start? and is aimed at anyone who has an idea for an app / startup but is not sure what steps to take next.
Launching your own app/startup is an extremely rewarding experience, from the idea, conception and design phases right though each and every product cycle from development of the apps, beta and final launch.
To get started you can follow the steps below; these steps are very much simplified but should provide a rough idea of the general process. When you appoint a technical co-founder, CTO &/or app development agency (or even hire your own team of developers/designers) they will work you though a similar but more detailed process…
- Solidify your startup / app idea
Once you have an idea for an app (that in many cases has eventuated from a problem you have found or experienced that could be solved by an app) you need to talk with developers and designers to find out if the idea can actually be built into an app. i.e. technology wise can the idea be developed into an app, is it possible?? To achieve this you need to speak with technical people; CTO’s, developers, digital product designers etc that have true hands-on experience coding/developing apps, i.e. don’t just speak with sales/marketing staff if they don’t work closely or get direct advice from the people doing the work.
- Plan the app and wire-frame
Once you know the idea can be developed it is time to put it down on paper (excuse the pun but you get the idea!). This stage will include wire-framing of the app screens, functional planning of the front-end, back-end/API’s and overall product flow; i.e. how it could/would look and how the app all comes together to make an end product. To put it simply, this can be the most important part! Plan well with the right group of experienced people initially and you will have less/little problems later on in the app development process.
- Design the UI
Once you have the wire-frames (sketches of how the app screens will look and work) you need to start designing the applications final UI (user interface); i.e. this is the look and feel of the web or mobile application (your product) — remember if the app does not look good then some people may not use it. The UI can sell the app in many cases, think about when you browse though the app stores, or a piece of software you use now at work or home; the apps and software that look and feel good are usually the ones you like and have a higher level of trust with…
- Show people
Step 4 is an interim (yet optional) step that can occur inline with other tasks and is usually directed by you as founder. At stage 4 the app/idea is really starting to come together, you now know how things will work and look and you can upload the UI screens to a prototyping tool such as InVision which will enable you to demonstrate how the app will work to anyone on your mobile device &/or web browser; in simple terms, you can use this prototype to start to wow people! – your potential app users, friends, family, investors; you are on your way…
- Start development
While step 4 is taking place you can have your development team work on the app build, you know where the app is going now; how it will work, how it will look — we are moving along nicely! Development is the coding aspect of the app; the front-end (look and movement of the app i.e. UI), back-end (databases, API’s, functional code etc.). Development is where you take your design and make it functional and ready for launch.
Testing occurs on-going during development; by the app developers (manual and automated with code) and by you and your beta users (family/friends etc). Like Step 4 this step is an interim step that occurs during the entire development cycle and will continue during app enhancements with each new app release.
- Market the app / website (i.e. get users!!!)
You can start marketing at anytime, close to launch as a ‘coming soon’ or after launch. Marketing is usually performed via SEO (search engine optimisation) or using paid ad campaigns on platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook/Instagram ads or alike; you should keep in mind your ROI (return on investment) vs. life-time user value with paid campaigns, i.e. if it costs you $5 to acquire a single user and you only make $3 for the lifetime of that user you loose $2 per user, but then you REALLY need to think of the long-term; i.e. that one user may turn onto 2 or 10 organic users though word of mouth and each of these new users may have a life-time value of $150/year through a subscription payment model — so each of these 10 users may turn into another 10 ‘compounded’ users (i.e. 10 * 10 = 100 potential new users * $150/user = ~$15,000 per user per year!); this is why having a great app UI and solid development and end product is so important.
To achieve the above stages you need a range of skills, digital product/UX/UI designers to design the app, developers to code the app, DevOps engineers to get any required servers up and running (and monitored for up/downtime), digital marketers to ensure the app has uptake + a handful of other skills such as digital/product strategy, business skills (a startup is a business after-all!) etc etc. You can also hire an app company/agency that has all of these skills covered under one roof... 👍
Good luck! If you need help with a startup or app idea feel free to reach out.