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So, you think you need an app... what should you do now?

Articles
07 Mar 2023

Your guide to building a mobile app

So, you've decided your business needs an app. The good news is it doesn’t have to be a long, complex process and you don’t have to learn to code (unless you want to.)

There are loads of app development platforms and app experts out there to help you. Now while there’s no one-size-fits all approach to building an app, there are a few things to consider before you – or an app builder you’ve chosen – get to work.

How much does it cost to create an app?

The answer to this question will differ for everyone depending on who’s building it, what features it’ll have, how long it takes, and how much aftercare’s needed, including testing, updating and marketing it. So, first things first, think about how much budget you can realistically put into the process, then think about the following...

What features should my app have?

We’re fans of competitor and market research, every step of the way along your business’ journey. If you haven’t already, do some thorough research into your target audience. Understand how they like to shop, what they like to read or watch, what makes them tick and the problems they have, and work out how your app could provide solutions. This should shed some light on the kind of features that will and won’t interest them.

Next, why not learn from your competitors’ mistakes? Chances are some of them have apps already, so download and test them, and see what does/doesn’t work well. Look at apps outside your industry too, from a technical perspective. That way you can get a better feel for different app features, pick and choose the best from each, and fill any gaps left by your competitors.

Who can design and build my app?

Now you’ve outlined the features you need, you can decide who’s going to create your app. First things first, reach out to app development companies and request quotes. Or, if you want to take on this challenge yourself, there are two routes you can take:

1. App platforms

In general, you can build an app a lot faster by using an app development platform. This is because platforms give you tried-and-tested templates to build from, meaning you can roll them out faster, and there’s a reduced risk of bugs and glitches. Plus, you usually get technical support included in the service, meaning you don’t have to hire someone in-house, but you still get support from an expert.

Some platforms even give you simultaneous iOS and Android build options, so rather than having to choose between them (which we don’t recommend), or build them separately, you get both in one go. There are lots of platforms to choose from, like Quixy, Zoho Creator, Appy Pie – check out this list to help you weigh up some of the options.

2. Custom development

Building an app from scratch, rather than using off-the-shelf templates offered by app platforms, is called custom development. In general, this is a more expensive route to take, especially if you have multiple team members working on your app. It does have its advantages, though; from being unique and tailor-made to your business’ exact needs to having increased security – the list goes on.

However, unless you book onto an app-building course or hire an in-house developer, it’ll involve outsourcing the job. So, if you do want to take this route, shop around and see what fits within your budget and timeframe.

Establish an aftercare process

It’s worth thinking about how you’ll maintain your app after it’s built too. If you’re outsourcing the app build, think about whether you’ll take over and manage it once it’s ready. Or will you hire someone to manage it on an ongoing basis?

Consider how you’re going to tell customers about it too, to make sure they download it and ensure you start seeing a return on your investment. You could have the best app in the world, but if you’re not marketing it, you’re not going to get many downloads.

Building an app can open a world full of opportunities for your business. Do your research, take a considered approach to testing and marketing it, and keep up the momentum after launch by updating it often. It can take time, planning and aftercare, but, done right, it can really pay off.

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