How To Build A Mobile App – Part 1 – Planning

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HINT: This article is full of checklists to help you build a wonderful foundation of your mobile app business. If you are really planning to make an app, get prepared to do some serious work already.


One of the biggest reasons ever to build an app is that 21% of millennials opening an app 50+ times a day, so it’s no wonder that businesses are looking to get on the mobile bandwagon.

Deciding on creating a mobile app is easy – but how easy it is to actually create one and make a sustainable business out of it?

Step by step, let’s go over the most important questions before you even pay for anything.

Is your mobile app idea even good?

people writing on a board with markers

42 percent of small business failures are reported due to no market need.

So you have to be honest here. What actually makes you think your idea is good enough to make it last for the next 5 years or longer?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to discourage you, actually totally opposite, but as my friend already mention in her article, if you decide to build an app just because you want to build it, and not because it will bring any value to anyone, it may just fail already at the concept level and you will waste a lot of time, money, energy, feel miserable, and you know… burned out, etc.

Luckily you can avoid this quite easily.

Forget about the SWOT Analysis. We will do it the other way. Let’s go over the basics of product-market fit.

What’s your mobile app Value?

four glasses of a different wine on the barrel

“You cannot create the need. You can only use the existing one.”

…said whoever, but he had a good point.

Value is the answer for a need and the deeper the need, the bigger the value of a fulfillment.

Just mind that people already have needs that never changed since we exist.

We all want to:

  • feel good
  • look good
  • feel important
  • feel comfortable
  • be happy
  • be liked
  • have fun
  • be right
  • be attractive
  • make money
  • be productive
  • safe time
  • be safe

Therefore, all you have to do is to fit in one of the needs mentioned.

So, does your app:

  • Delivers entertainment?
  • Solves any problem?
  • Make life easier? Faster? More interesting? Healthier? Safer?
  • Increase social status?
  • Make people look more attractive? More entitled? More interesting?
  • Make them feel good about themselves?
  • Improves their knowledge or skills?
  • Make them feel better than the others?

Finally, what is the ultimate reason for anyone to use your app?

The Audience

a lot of people crossing the road

To find the right potential clients, you can use some helpful questions:

  • Who do you want to use your app?
  • Are they your current customers? Or somebody else?
  • Do you have a certain demographic in mind?
  • Do you know them?
  • Did you meet any one of them?
  • Or you only heard of them?
  • Are they popular in society?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • How much they earn?
  • Can you describe their daily routine?

You should also define approximately how many people are going to use your app to check if the market is big enough to make a stable income on it.

  • Is your app for everyone or just a specific niche?
  • Is it a B2C, B2B or B2E app?
  • If it’s for everyone, who you will try to convince the most? (You need to go deeper than “the richest”).
  • Where can you find your potential clients?
  • How many of them you’re able to reach?
  • Can you measure the approximate (or preferably exact) amount of them?
  • How many people have the problem you want to solve?
  • How are you going to find out the amount?

So, let’s check if they search for any improvement:

  • What do they use now to fix the problem you want to fix?
  • What’s missing there?
  • What’s too much there?
  • What could be better?
  • What could they possibly use in the future?
  • Why would they change their minds, and start using your app?
  • Why would they change their minds, and stop using what they use now?
  • What do you have to offer to push them for a change?

And more helpful questions to dive deeper:

  • How do they shop? (Do they prefer to save, or buy emotionally, buy more than needed, don’t mind overpaying, search for free stuff, want to buy to be fancy, care about self-improvement, etc.)
  • What other problems do they face every day?
  • Can you spot any other need or improvement from their daily life that is not related to your app?
  • How could you possibly help them in other areas than your app?
  • Will your app tap on their emotions, or logic?
  • Can you bring something new to them, or improve what’s existing?
  • Will it help them save something, or gain something?
  • Will it help them to look better, or avoid looking bad?

Finally, can you actually stand next to those people and say:

“I know exactly what you are going through and this is why I made this app so you don’t have to think about (put the problem here) anymore.”

Competition Research

a chess board with a king laying in the center

You also need to check if there’s already an app that seems exactly like yours.

  • If there is an app like yours, why people are using it?
  • Why do they like it? Or what they don’t like?
  • Why others don’t use it?
  • If there is no app like yours, why?
  • Did someone try something similar and failed?
  • Why did he fail?
  • What could go wrong?

If you see there is a place for improvement and you can do the same as others, but in a better way than others, you raise your chance to get the attention.

  • What’s different in your app?
  • Is your navigation, or interface easier?
  • Do you have more custom features?
  • Is your support better?
  • Is it enables new possibilities?
  • Which possibilities? Are they tempting, or important enough?
  • Does it make the overall experience better?
  • Can it be used on more devices?
  • Is it faster?
  • Can work offline?
  • Is it cheaper?
  • Why people may don’t want to pay for your app?
  • Why people may don’t be even interested in your app?
  • How do you plan to spread the word about it?
  • Etc.

Is competition good for me?

If there is a competition, probably there is also a product-market fit – so your idea is correct.

Check how your competition is doing, you might find very interesting data about how they’re generating traffic on their websites, where they advertise, how their team structure looks like and how are they doing financially.

Do I need to be first on the market?

No, but you need to be the best.

Being the best doesn’t mean that you need to beat your competition in any discipline, but you should be the number one in a specific niche or for a specific type of customer.

Business Model

a man is explaining his business model with a pencil

Your business model is something you need to fix before you start with development.

The most important question is:

  • Is your app worth any money?

In other words, Is the problem you want to solve painful enough to make people pay for fixing it?

You should also decide if your app going to be free, freemium or paid for?

Think of monetizing through ads, or in-app purchases, as it all depends on what you’re looking and want to achieve.

Mind these as well:

  • How much your audience is willing to pay
  • How much do they pay now for a similar, or other apps?
  • Do they even pay for anything, or just using free stuff?

So you don’t price yourself off the market or undervalue.

If you think of a free product as a way to get people hooked so that they pay for your premium version, check:

  • How much you are actually able to give for free?
  • Is that enough to ask for a premium later on?
  • How are you going to motivate or persuade people to go for a premium?

Mind that a business plan is one of the first things your investor will ask for. Without the plan, they may not treat you seriously. They may think that your idea is just your wish, therefore you need to show them you know what you do, and it has an actual plan of making money on it.

If you search for a business plan inspiration and exact example, check out this.

Finally, if you have it fixed, you may get yourself a sponsor, or investor. When you do, it’s time for serious shopping.

Useful tools

Summary

As you can see, you have a lot do to before starting the development. Do your homework, do interviews with potential customers. You can show them just a prototype of the app sketched in your notebook, but make sure you get the valuable feedback from outside.

OK, let’s make things happen and give your app a live in Part 2 – UX and UI.

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