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The Full Picture: 9 Things You Should Know Before You Start Developing an App


How much will it really cost to create a successful app? How long will it take? What resources do you need, and what if things don’t go as planned? Here’s what you should know even before you start developing an app

There’s a lot of questionable information online about what it actually takes to create a successful new app.

If you were to Google “how to create an app” right now, you’d find endless pages and guides promising to show you how in 10 or 7, often “easy” or “simple”, steps. This is perhaps fine for college dorm mates dreaming of accidentally stumbling on the next big super-app idea, but not for a serious tech founder or IT head at a corporate.

If you’re looking to develop an idea into a successful tech startup, or need to manage the roll-out of a new product for a corporate – including managing stakeholders and funder expectations etc. – then app development is a lot more in-depth and strategic than popular opinion makes it seem. See why you need a digital consultant.

This post looks at the business side of rolling out a new product by breaking down the actual app development process, alongside considerations like cost, timelines and the resources needed to start developing an app.

9 Things You Should Know Before You Start Developing an App

For a balanced view of what it will take to develop an app, we’ll break things down into two overarching spheres:

  • An overview of the entire product development process (for your planning)
  • An overview of the resources required and product complexity (for your projections)

Breaking down the app development process

1. Validating your concept before you start developing the app

Just as with any product, ideas only become valuable once they’re tested and proven in the marketplace. It takes so much dedication, time and effort to develop and roll out a new product, that it’s irresponsible to devote resources to it without triple-checking that there is a market for it, it serves an actual need, and the need is important enough for people to want to spend money on it (and the market financially capable of purchasing the product).

That means intense market and competitor research, stakeholder interviews, feasibility tests and all the checks a product needs to pass before you actually start developing. See why your tech product idea needs to go through concept validation first, discover how to do with app idea validation. and then see exactly how long it takes to validate an idea, exactly why you need to test your app idea, how to check if an app idea already exists and how to run some key validation experiments.

And note, we at Specno offer this as a service, so ask us about concept validation here.

2. Planning for the Design Phase

A common mistake in tech is to assume that design is mainly about aesthetics. Yes, it’s about how things look, but a far more important function of the app design phase is the rapid testing of new ideas to strengthen and streamline your system architecture and user interface (UI).

Up to 80% of apps fail because they either skip Step 1 above or deliver a poor user experience – which is what the design phase is meant to sort out.

Get a full overview of the importance, function and resources needed in App Design.

3. The Development Phase

Development only happens after the final UI is locked down. This means all flow- and systems-based research and testing is complete, all stakeholders have signed off on the final UI design and all assets have been prepared for development.

What is crucial, though, is the methodology your developer uses for the actual process. Specno, for example, delivers a team of developers to our clients, supported by design teams and product owners – everything you need to ensure the high-quality and effective roll-out of your product. Have a look at our guide to the optimal app development process.

Ask us about developing your product. And to get the full picture of timelines and options for launching a new product, see our guide to how long it takes to create a new app and learn all you need to know about selecting your ideal app developer.

4. Rolling out your New Product

It's folly to assume you can just introduce a product without iteration. Even the best-designed and planned projects have new lessons to learn once they hit the real world. That’s why you should plan for a proper (possibly staged) roll-out.

The best practice is, of course, to roll out a minimum viable product (MVP) first – a workable if not entirely complete version of your product, with all the basic features and navigation necessary to actually function – and then test, learn and iterate on that before rolling out your final product.

It’s important to plan and set aside enough time for this testing and iteration phase. See how to outsource app development successfully.

5. Continuous optimisation

This is where both in-app and peripherals such as marketing come in.

Again, even the best-planned products need constant optimisation. Just as with any business or product, it can take many weeks or even months to get an app’s sales funnel and conversions running and the product en route to self-sustainability.

You need to make people aware of the new product, get enough people in to try it, and then start converting those into actual paying/earning subscribers (users with a monetary value to your business). All this while simultaneously fine-tuning the app itself – ironing out kinks to void crashes, checking that your UX is delighting people and your onboarding is successful etc.

For some extra insights, have a look at our resources on how to optimise your app conversion rate. See what to do if you have slow or low user growth. Then learn how to calculate your app engagement rate and what to do if you have low app engagement.

Then see how to increase app engagement, using this framework for your user engagement strategy and then learn how to increase active users.

Also see how to use analytics for better app user engagement.

Considering the resources and timelines involved

6. The Complexity of the App

Not all apps are equal. Some will take more resources to create and maintain than others. So it’s worthwhile keeping your product’s technical needs in mind.

That said, complexity is a bit hard to define. A simple way to categorise apps is to look at the type and amount of features they will require. The below comparison table showcases potential features and relevant app complexity. Rolling out a simpler app could be slightly faster than a complex one:

Simple Apps

Mid-Level Apps

Complex Apps

  • A single, straightforward function or purpose

  • A limited number of screens or pages

  • Basic navigation

  • Limited user input

  • Basic data storage

  • Limited integration with external systems or services

  • Basic security features, such as login or authentication.

  • Multiple functions or purposes

  • More advanced navigation, such as nested menus or dynamic navigation

  • More advanced user input

  • More complex data storage

  • More extensive connectivity, such as integration with external APIs or services

  • Advanced error handling and user feedback

  • More complex security features, such as encryption or multi-factor authentication
  • Many functions and navigation

  • Advanced user input, voice and facial recognition

  • Advanced connectivity and real-time data exchange

  • Advanced error handling and user feedback

  • Advanced security features, such as biometric authentication

  • Support for multiple languages and localization

  • Support for various device types and platforms, including wearables and IoT.

See the in-depth exploration of new app development.

7. How much it will Cost to Develop your Product

Taking all the previous steps into account (as well as number 9 below), accurately pricing your investment is vital. There are costs involved every step of the way when developing a product strategically and effectively, but the upshot is 1) validation prevents losses and wastage on unfeasible ideas, and 2) developing a product in this manner gives you the best possible assurance of success and seeing a return on your investment.

For planning out and doing the UI design for a successful product, see our guide to app design cost. Then, move onto the actual coding and deployment with our breakdown of app development cost.

8. Realistic Timelines for Developing Your Product 

We included all the process steps above to give you a clear picture of the workloads involved in not only developing but also fine-tuning your product. But how long will it actually take to build it?

Explore the timelines you can expect with planning out and designing a successful product in our guide to app design time. And, for the actual coding and deployment, see our guide to app development time.

9. The Skills and Resources you’ll Need to Start Developing an App

The preceding 8 steps will have given you a fair idea of the wide range of skills needed to validate, design, develop, roll out and optimise a new product.

A successful app requires a team that includes: researchers, interviewers, UX designers, a scrum master(s), developers, a product owner(s), a marketing department, project management and, depending on your product type, possibly even community managers and traffic control – to name but a few. See what you need to build an app development team.

This is why serious tech founders, corporates and businesses who develop apps either invest in assembling an internal team or employ an agency to execute it for them. Have a look at the facts, figures, pros and cons around outsourcing and insourcing your development.

And that is what Specno does. We can either serve as your full app-development agency, offering everything from validation, design, development and optimisation, or become your tech partner that develops your product while you’re busy assembling your own team. See what startup support you need to make it big and get all you need to know about selecting your ideal app developer.

Get Us to Help You Create Your Product

There’s a lot that goes into developing an app that actually works the first time, and that’s why we at Specno spent years developing the best app design team for usability and user experience – proven to give you better user engagement and retention.

To get your app created effectively, on time and with an immersive user experience, contact Specno now.
(You’ll get a response immediately.)

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