Planning a budget and writing a specification document are two things you should do after you have found an idea for an app. You also need to decide whether you are going to create the app yourself or hire a professional.
Be it a utility, a platform to sell goods or an app that will disrupt an industry, there are plenty of ideas out there. But after you have an idea, you need to turn it into reality. What next?
The Next Steps
Having an idea is just the beginning of making a great app. Follow these steps to turn it into reality.
Step 1. Plan your budget
If you are planning to hire somebody to make the app, you should be prepared to spend at least a few hundred to a few thousand dollars . The range varies depending on the complexity of the app (number of features, whether it requires an online database, if it supports user content, etc.). The best way to get an idea of how much the app is going to cost is to ask a professional for an estimate. Make sure you contact at least three different professionals to get a better idea of what the ranges are.
Consider having the professional sign a unilateral non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before asking for an estimate. If your idea is very valuable, have a lawyer write the NDA (or at least proofread it).
If you are planning to build the app yourself, but you do not have programming experience, there are many tools that will allow you to build an app without knowing how to code. One of my favorite tools is Como App Maker. Keep in mind that these tools have limitations. They usually work best for very simple apps.
If your app is too complicated for these tools and you have some time and patience, you could learn how to code. It’s no secret science and many people do it. You just need to put enough effort into it.
Step 2. Write a Specification Document
A specification document is a simple description of the app and its features. If you are hiring people, this document will help them give you a more precise estimate. Even if you are building the app yourself, this document will help you stay on target while developing the app and allow you to think of possible problems early on. At a minimum, your document should include:
- A brief description of the app.
- The platforms that your app will support (Android, iPhone, etc.).
- A description of how users are going to interact with your app. Try to think of every possible scenario and write down a step-by-step list of each task that a user should be able to perform.
- A list of features. You want to rank each feature as “must have,” “should have” or “nice to have”. This way you can prioritize your efforts toward the most important features. An example of a feature in a game could be an online leader-board.
You can revise your specification document as you go along in the development of the app, but keep in mind that it could be difficult to change things once they have been built. So really spend some time and effort for the specification document.
Step 3. Get building
If you have chosen to go with a professional make sure to clarify what are the deadlines, if there are going to be penalties for being late, how payment will be arranged, if the app will be licensed in an exclusive manner (it cannot be resold to third parties) and who is going to publish it to the various mobile stores. All of these things must be written down and signed in a contract.
Do not commission work without having a written contract.
If you are going the do it yourself way, here are some links that will get you started in the right direction. Remember that (given enough time and effort) anybody can make a successful app.
- Learn basics of programming: code.org
- Java tutorial (for Android): learnjavaonline.org
- Android tutorial: tutorialspoint.com
- Objective-C course (for iOS): codeschool.com
- Windows Phone 8 course: channel9.msdn.com
The cost of app development varies depending on the platform, the company or the developer that builds the app and the number (or complexity) of features. Unless you are willing to build the app yourself, or you’re willing to put some amount of money upfront for the development, you might need investors. It’s quite unlikely that you’ll find a developer willing to work for equity only. If you do find a developer that will take equity only, expect to give away 80-90% for an equity-only deal. Ideas are cheap, software development is expensive.
Ask for an estimate
Have a budget allocated for your app? At MasseranoLabs we have been building apps since 2009, they have been featured on FoxNews and are always looking for new exciting work. Feel free to ask us for an estimate.