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It’s not all about being a great developer

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Building a great app and making it a success on the app store, requires you to be much more than just a good developer. We often think that all you need is a good idea and some good development skills, but I can assure you, a successful app requires much more than that.

If you are considering publishing your own apps, here some of the things you might want to think about other than just the development aspect – together with good development, you need to also either learn these skills or source them from somewhere to make your app a success:

  • Market research: Are you building something that people will find useful? Are you just cloning something else which has already been done – in which case, what will make your app different?
  • Product management: A good product manager will tell you to focus your efforts on the most important things first and try to guide you to not waste time on things which are not important or not important immediately.
  • Testing: Do not underestimate testing. Especially as an independent developer, it is really difficult to test your own work, but it has to be done. There is nothing worse than a breaking bug making it all the way into production. You need to step away from the code and try and break your app.
  • User experience: When you develop an app, using it is quite easy, because you know how you made it. Have you considered what your app will look like to a user the first time they open it? I know my app exceptionally well and it always surprises me to watch other users use it.
  • Graphic design and UI design: This is something I struggle with a little bit, but I still give it a go (I do this so that I can get better at it). Publishing an app on the app store with an ugly icon or ugly user interface will immediately lose you points. As this is what a user sees immediately, I would even consider paying someone else to do it for me, but not before giving it a go myself first.
  • Marketing: Once your app works really well and you have published it, you are just waiting for people to download it. This really doesn’t happen by itself and you need to put effort in to get people to use your app.
  • Support: Things are going to break. You need the ability to look after your users and help them out. This can range wildly from code fixes, to explaining to them what they are doing wrong, updating your app to make it easier for users and so on.
  • Public relations: Once you are on the app store, you have gone public. Users are going to applaud you, they are going to criticise you, they are going to troll you. Especially when things go wrong, you need to be there for your users – this can be a tough one to do.

It is easy to think that all you need for a successful app is a good idea and some great development. These are definitely elements which will have a positive contribution, but there are so many other aspects you need to consider. It can be very daunting when you are the independent person and you have to do all these roles at once. But, in this, remember that you also have a competitive advantage – if users are not happy, or things change in the marketplace, you can change direction at the drop of a hat. You don’t have to ask someone’s permission or for through a bunch of bureaucracy to get things done.

As I continue writing, I’ll delve a little bit more into the various areas, specifically not focusing on development alone.

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