How to create an app:
Step 1: Develop A Monetization And Marketing Plan
Before moving into any kind of design or development is to figure out how your idea will generate a profit!
80% are NOT generating enough revenue with their app to support a standalone business.
It’s fair to assume that a great portion of that 80% also didn’t develop a monetization or marketing plan prior to developing their app.
Action item: Develop a monetization plan.
Step 2: Sign Up For A Developer Account
You will need to establish your business within the App Store. To do this, visit the iOS Development Center, and sign up for an account. It’s $99 for a year and requires that you provide the tax and bank account information of your business or yourself. Have this information handy before signing up.
The only reason not to sign up for a developer account would be if you’re OK with having your app published under another person or company’s account and brand. If that is the case, then know that Apple would pay all revenue to the account holder’s bank account. That account holder would then be responsible for paying you.
Action item: Open an iOS developer account.
Step 3: Sketch Your Application
If you have an idea already, then you likely have some visuals in mind for how the app would look and work and the information it would present. You don’t have to be an artist to sketch a rough interface, so start putting your ideas down on paper. Before you begin, ask yourself:
What primary action will users take within the app?
What information will each screen need to present?
What is the flow? How will users get from start to finish?
How big should the elements on screen be relative to each other?
Sketching your layout can be simplified with the right tools. (Image: Cultured Code)
You may find during this process that some fresh ideas come to mind that simplify the flow or that add a creative twist to the interaction design. Try to keep your original concept in mind without blocking the flow of new ideas!
Create at least one thumbnail sketch for each screen in your application. Experiment with various navigational schemes, the copy on buttons and the flow between screens. If you want to transfer your sketches into digital format, iPlotz is a good tool to check out.
The purpose of sketching your application’s screens is to build a foundation for the next phase of the project. Action item: Sketch out all screens of your app.
Step 4: Identify The Work To Be Outsourced
Based on the following list of required skills, define the areas where you would be comfortable taking the lead and where you would need to hire help:
Promotion and marketing.
Action item: Identify your role and the roles of those you hire.
Step 5: Hiring Your Team
If you are a designer, download my “iPhone App Template,” a big collection of iPhone UI elements. These Photoshop files will save you a lot of time getting started on the design. To learn more about mobile design in general, these websites provide a lot of great resources:
If you’re not a designer, then you should know that design breaks down into three roles:
In case you’re familiar with the Web design process, “information architecture” as it relates to mobile is very similar. If you’re not familiar with the term, it simply means organizing the content in your app.”
Have you ever used an app that you didn’t need any instruction to operate? One in which the flow was so intuitive that you barely noticed the interface? It wasn’t by accident. This is the job of the interaction designer, someone who sorts out how the user will move from screen to screen to accomplish their task. Be sure to hire a designer who has skill in this area.
Visual design is the final step in the design process. It is the “skin” that overlays the controls for the app. The visual design can be as simple or as complex as you want; the key is to focus on the usability and primary task of the app.
Try to find a designer who has experience designing for mobile devices. They will have some good feedback and suggestions to improve your sketches. A few places to look for designers:
If you are not a developer, then get your developer on board as you’re lining up the designer. Speaking with a developer sooner than later will help you scope a project that is technically feasible and within your budget.
Submitting your app to the App Store
Your developer can also help you submit your application to the App Store. Clearly communicate the launch date of your app to the developer. Nothing is more detrimental to an app’s success than an unexpected or poorly planned launch.
MARKETING AND PROMOTION
Be ready with a plan to market your app. Be ready to experiment because some ideas will work, and others won’t.
Strategies for marketing and promotion:
Incorporate social media.
set up fan pages for your app on Facebook and Twitter, and use them as platforms to communicate with users and get feedback.
Start building buzz about your app before it launches. Email journalists and bloggers who write about things related to your app. The more relevant your app is to their niche, the better your chances of getting written about. Some outlets to consider:
TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog)
Plan for multiple releases.
Don’t pack your first release with every feature you want to offer. Create a dream list, and design the app so that it can accommodate all of these features in the future. Then periodically release new versions of the app to boost sales.
Other sources of app marketing ideas:
“Indie iPhone App Marketing,” Chris Hulbert, Splinter Software
Mobile Marketing Watch
“App Store Marketing,” LinkedIn group
Action item: Find freelance or agency contractors to fill the roles for design, development and marketing.
The most important takeaway for anyone looking to create their first iPhone app is to focus on hiring the right team to help maintain the app over time.