Should You Build An App?

Will Swan
Will Swan
Jul 12, 2019 · 11 min read
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Apps are very desirable to create, they have the possibility of reaching millions of users, making big money, and in some cases, becoming famous. While it is possible to achieve these three things, it is highly unlikely. It is estimated that around 1 out of every 10,000 apps succeed. There are roughly 6 million apps available on the App Store and Play Store combined, that means there are about 60,000 successful apps. Out of this 1%, an even smaller percentage achieve the big three dreams that I just mentioned.

In this story, we are going to look at the top questions that you should ask yourself before building an app. If you can answer every question in detail, then go ahead and create that app, if not, then you should think twice before proceeding. I have built multiple apps in the past, only one of which was marginally successful. I have learnt the hard way to properly think through an idea before executing it so that I don’t lose both time and money. I am writing this because I wish someone had asked me these questions before I started creating my first app.

Will your app solve a problem?

How will your app solve the problem?

Are you building the app for yourself?

Who will your users be?

Are you doing it purely to make money?

Can you afford to build the app?

Before you start, I highly recommend sitting down and writing down all the costs that will be associated with your project, everything from a domain name, to a marketing budget. Do your research, find out how much a designer costs, don’t just estimate a number out of nowhere. This way, you will go into the project knowing how much you will need, and won’t be surprised when someone tells you how much they charge.

Do you trust people to work with you?

Will your app require support?

What platform will you choose?

The pros and cons of each platform need to be weighed up before you decide which one you want to target. If you target the wrong platform, then you may end up with more troubles during development, and find it harder to market your app.

If your app is relatively simple and you aren’t sure which platform you should focus on, then you could use something like Flutter. Flutter allows you to build for both iOS and Android using the same code base and development environment. Using Flutter will enable you to release for both platforms at the same time and then gauge the responses to decide which one you should focus on.

Are you aware of the competition?

There is nothing wrong with building something that someone has already made, as long as your app does something better, simpler, or cheaper. You don’t want to just straight up copy someone else’s idea, firstly because you won’t be respected for it, and secondly, if your app is too similar to another, then users won’t have any reason to switch.

Are you ready for more research?

Do you understand the privacy and security implications?

You need to be planning for the best possible privacy policies and security features from the start to make the risk of having your own scandal as low as possible.

Privacy is the easier of the two as you have much more control over this. The best way to keep your user’s data private is to only store what is absolutely necessary. By only storing what is essential, you limit what data can be retrieved in the event of a breach, or leak. For example, if your app uses the user’s location, do you need to store the location? The answer is most likely no. Storing data like locations means you quickly build up a picture of a users movements, something that is highly desirable and can make you a target. This is for same for storing data that identifies users interests, devices, contacts, activity times, and anything else that someone with the data can sell.

Security, on the other hand, is much more complicated. New vulnerabilities are found regularly in hardware and software that many applications are reliant upon. These vulnerabilities give hackers new ways to gain access to data and systems that they shouldn’t be able to use. Your apps security will continuously be evolving, and you should always stick to the well documented best practices, one of the most basic of which is enforcing strong passwords. If you are app requires users to create accounts, or interact with both proprietary or third-party APIs, then I highly recommend at the least having a consultation with someone experienced in the field of security.

Will your app be usable?

Are you prepared to receive honest feedback?

Being able to read negative reviews and comments for what they are is essential to your app’s growth as it allows you to resolve the problems much more efficiently. I say this because instead of reading one bad review and focusing just on that one opinion or experience, you can instead look for patterns throughout all the reviews. Looking for patterns allows you to determine how genuine the feedback is. If out of, let’s say fifty reviews, you have ten bad ones, nine of which contain similar concerns, and one which is unrelated and possibly quite emotionally written. Here is a pattern, instead of focusing on that one bad review, you can now focus on addressing the concerns of the other nine. You may have come across this before without being aware. If, like me, you look through reviews before buying something and you see a load of four and five-star reviews, and then maybe ten one and two-star ones. If the bad reviews are all unrelated and say things like “this product is terrible, don’t buy it”, then you tend to ignore them. If on the other hand, they have similar problems, then you tend to consider those problems before going through with the purchase.

The same goes for positive reviews. When you read lovely feedback, you can’t let it go to your head. You always need to be able to look at your app objectively, both the positives and the negatives.

Are you willing to wait for organic growth?

Conclusion

I wish everyone the best of luck with their apps.

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