Steve Jobs first came up with the concept of an app store back in 1983. His idea finally came into existence in 2008 when the official App Store launched with 500 apps. Google soon followed suit with its Play store for Android devices, launching in 2012. Early app offerings had a large focus on social media and gaming. Angry Birds, one of the most well-known apps of all time, hit over 3 billion downloads across all versions by 2015. It wasn't long before there seemed to be an app for everything from finding a new career to landing a date. Today, the iOS App Store has about 1.85 million apps available, and the Google Play store offers more than 2.56 million items. With so many apps on the market, competition can be tough. A professional app developer can help your idea stand out among the crowd. Got a concept for an app you are confident the market wants...maybe even needs? Follow these steps to hire a mobile app developer who will take your app idea from concept to completion, and beyond.
Figure out your app angle.
Sketch out the flow and what actions you want the users to take.
Start talking to app developers, and ask these questions.
Understand the cost of hiring a developer and what app metrics will determine ROI.
Collaborate with your developer, but let them do what they do best.
Launch your app, and track your progress.
Figure out your app angle.Every app starts with an idea. And, generally speaking, the most popular apps on the market today each fall under one of these categories:
Gaming AppsLike the aforementioned Angry Birds, one of the most popular gaming apps of all time, these types of apps are primarily for entertainment. Users tend to return to them multiple times a day, and they offer escape and a sense of accomplishment, as users typically complete levels in an advancing trajectory. Other popular gaming apps include:
- Candy Crush Saga
- Clash Royale
- Pokemon Go
Lifestyle AppsEvery life is unique, but lifestyles tend to have aspects in common. Lifestyle apps capitalize on these common affinities, preferences, wants and needs, and serve users accordingly. Users tend to remain loyal to lifestyle apps, and incorporate them into their daily routines over a long period of time. Popular areas of lifestyle apps include:
- Health & Fitness
- Food & Dining
Social Media AppsIt's almost impossible to ignore these incredibly popular apps, which allow users to connect with others, share information and media, and review and shop for products, from a range of mobile devices. Among the most popular of these are:
These handy apps allow users to do everyday things more quickly and efficiently. Users utilize these apps at work and at home, and the space and opportunity for new productivity apps is seemingly endless. These are some of the apps that many users never realized they needed, but now can't live without:
- Google Calendar
- What will the purpose of this app be? If there are other similar apps already on the market, determine how yours will be different or better.
- How complex does the app need to be, and what features does it need? A few pages might suffice for a simple app, but an online store app could require a lot more work.
- Know your audience. Think about who is most likely to use your app. There are many factors to consider, including age and gender, plus user location, interests, career, and more.
ExperTip: Make monetization a major consideration. Other app creators are doing this—in fact, global mobile app revenues are set to reach $580 billion in 2020—and you should, too. Whether you are seeking to recoup your app development costs, or create a ongoing revenue stream, generating money from your app is an important aspect of app development and marketing. Monetization options include charging for install, charging for subscription, and free install but charging for in-app purchases. Selling ads to brands who want to target your app audience is also a monetization option. Monetization should be a conversation you have not just with your developer, but with anyone who provides you with digital marketing services.
Sketch out the flow and what actions you want the users to take.You want users to have a seamless, frustration-free experience with your app. Think of the end goal you wish to accomplish. Do you want the user to buy your product, sign up for a service, or collaborate with others? How can you convince users your app is worth coming back to? Crafting a storyboard can help you visualize your goals. The idea is to make a sketch or diagram of each screen the app will have and what happens on that screen. This helps you visualize the app's overall flow and the steps users will take to navigate it. You can draw a simple sketch with pencil and paper or try a storyboard program to create a more detailed diagram. Remember that using a mobile app on a smartphone is very different than viewing websites on a desktop computer. If the screen feels cluttered or the text is too hard to read, users aren't likely to stay.
Start talking to app developers, and ask these questions.Once you know how your app will work and what it will look like, it's time to choose a developer for your project. Some developers work by themselves and others work in teams with an agency; the latter will usually be costlier to hire but might have experience building very complex apps.
A good developer should have a professional website where you can view their work portfolio. Look at several samples of their work to be sure their skills are a good fit for your project. When you've found a potential developer to hire, you'll want to ask a few important questions before committing them to the job, such as the following:
- What does your development process look like? Do you provide predevelopment analysis, beta testing, or post-launch support?
- What technical skills and education do you have as a developer? How long have you been developing mobile apps?
- Do you have any specific mobile app development certifications (Associate Android Developer, MCSD App Builder, Swift Certification, Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder, etc.?)
- Do you have any apps available on the iOS App Store, Google Play, or a major marketplace?
- Can I have a list of clients you developed for, and would you mind me asking about their experience using your development services?
- How will you communicate with me throughout the process? How often should I expect to receive project updates?
- What does your fee structure look like, and can you give me an estimate for the cost of my project?
- How can you help me monetize my app?
- Will I own the code for the finished app?
Understand the cost of hiring a developer and what app metrics will determine ROI.The cost of hiring a developer can vary wildly depending on their experience, the scope of your project, how difficult it will be, and how many hours on average it may take to complete. It also depends on the market you're developing for. Android apps for the Play store generally cost 30% more to develop than iOS apps.
Hiring a freelance developer is the least expensive option and may cost as little as $500 for a simple app. An app agency can handle larger and more difficult projects, but they are the priciest choice with fees ranging from $10,000 up to $1 million. The fee structure also depends on the app type. For example, a basic mobile game could cost around $10,000 to make. A dating or social media app with features similar to Facebook might cost nearly $500,000.
Metrics you should use to measure the success of your app include how many people download the app, how long they use it, and how often they return to it. One important metric is customer lifetime value, which is the amount spent by a user on the app.
Collaborate with your developer, but let them do what they do best.Your developer will take the reins on your project once you've outlined your goals and expectations. Still, they'll occasionally need input from you, or you might have changes you'd like them to make. It's perfectly reasonable to communicate such things within limits, but don't email or call the developer too often; constant interruptions might delay completion. The developer is a professional who has expertise in creating apps from start to finish, and they should expect you to ask, up front, for a clear plan and timeline to help you feel confident that tasks are getting completed on schedule.
ExperTip: Micromanaging mobile app developers can lead to macro mobile app development problems. While it's important to receive regular updates and reporting on your app development project, it's equally important to be hands off where your hands can be a deterrent to progress. Constantly setting new tasks at "high" priority, and trying to familiarize yourself with every programming language and technical detail your app developer(s) use (and then dropping that "knowledge" into endless meetings with the team), will not make things move faster, and may actually create delays and diversions, not to mention frustration in your development team.
Launch your app, and track your progress.Some developers will handle the launch process for you, including submission to Google Play or the iOS App Store. Others might give you the code to handle the process yourself. Find out whether the developer is responsible for fixing problems like crashes and bug reports after the launch, how long they'll do this for, and the additional cost, if any.
Because there are so many new apps launched every day, it's important to get yours recognized early. Even before the app launches, talk it up on your website if you have one. Mention the app to influencers in your industry; if they promote it to their followers, you may get a big download boost right at launch. Reviews are also important for gaining users' trust, so ask for feedback often.
Pay attention to the app's key performance indicators, including daily users, session length, conversion rate, and average revenue per user. This information is vital for making your app a success after the launch and beyond.
Ready to talk to an expert? Here is our list of the best mobile app developers near you.
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