Why “I Want to Make an App” Means You’ve Already Failed

“I have this great idea for an app, how much do you charge?”

When I started designing apps, I started off on a similar whim to the question above — it led me down a very long and arduous road filled with relationship breakdowns, health issues and a whole lot of money being wasted. I spent £3,000 on an app that never worked and got scammed out of it. I tell my friends I paid for a better university degree (pre-2012 costs) and I don’t regret it because I learned so much from that mistake.

There’s no such thing as trial & failure
It’s trail & experience!

That mistake helped me understand why hearing others say, “I want to make an app” is laced with so much naivety. It reminds me of the experiences I’ve had in the past and how they warrant me the ability to brand those ambitions as failing already. It’s the inevitability of their fickleness to what it actually means to build an app. They haven’t failed because they’ve simply said that they want to build something, they’ve failed because they’ve misunderstood what that truly means.

If they did understand it, they wouldn’t come to me — or any other suspecting app designer/creator — with an idea. They would come to us with rapport. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not their fault and no one can really teach them or blame them for their ambition. It’s a great sign that it’s there, it’s just not being cultivated in the right direction.

“But each one teach one, cause we only as fast
As the last one straggling, so help ’em out” — Lupe Fiasco

Whenever someone comes to me with ambition behind their idea, I try my best to steer them onto the right path — they are already on the wrong one, why keep them there? You have to understand that you don’t build an app for the sake of building one. You build an app to solve a problem and that problem can’t just live in your head. A lot of people have to experience that problem for your app to be anywhere near useful.

What their ambitions hold them back from understanding is before wanting to build an app, you have to develop a real life use case of the problem it solves. What I mean by this is:

Have you gone out to ask people if they face this issue that your app will solve?
Are there enough people facing that problem for you to build the app?
Are they willing to pay for a solution to the problem? — THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
Building an app is E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E!

You will go broke ten times over before you break even if you don’t produce something people are certain to pay for — or you need a tonne of money behind your back to keep the fire burning until it does make you money. Shouts out to Uber. Everyone that has come to me saying they want an app, haven’t understood the market they are about to embark in, nevertheless if the market could even do with their app.

They just want their ego stroked because they thought of a “great” idea that hasn’t been proven yet — but it will because they’ve “seen” it work in their heads. What happens in your head and what happens in real life, are two completely different things. Your mind can bend things to its will, so your ideas will always work in your head if it makes you feel good.

What you need to understand is that an app costs you money to make, the more complex the idea, or even simple ones, are very expensive to make. There are running costs and overheads (bug fixes and server costs) that you have no idea you have to deal with. There is so much that you have to do, so much thinking, researching and experimenting in the real world that you have to put in before you arrive at the thought:

“I want to make an app”

Even that is expensive!

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Efosa is UX & Digital Design consultant, dreamer and a big fan of music. He’s on a mission to help young creatives step into their potential and create their best lives yet — he’s developing an app to make this easier for them. If you’re looking for an extra push in your creative career, you can sign up below for a chance to be one of the first to try it out: