Like the eye of a tornado, we’re living slap-bang in the middle of the ‘There’s an app for that’ age. So if you haven’t already flirted with the idea of launching your own app, you’ve almost certainly had a fleeting idea for one before (probably) tossing it into the ‘too hard’ basket.
But wait! Don’t dismiss your idea purely because you don’t have any development experience – not every tech start-up founder can code, and that’s okay. Take Airbnb, for example. Today it’s a billion-dollar company, but neither of its founders had programming experience when they originally came up with the concept. From product validation to market fit and customer engagement, there’s plenty for a self-confessed ideas person or designer to do. So if you think you could be sitting on the next Snapchat but don’t know what launching an app might involve, read on.
1) You can outsource the techy bits
As we’ve already established, the ability to code isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. However, you could make life a lot easier for yourself by saddling up with a technical co-founder. But if you’re hellbent on keeping all the glory (and work) for yourself, you will need to enlist the services of a developer, so ask around for some recommendations. For Cinderly co-founders Luke Stoffel and Laura von Holt – neither of whom have programming experience – they knew immediately that they wanted Australian developer David McKinney (the brains behind Emoji Type) to build their app, which helps users filter fashion finds, has been billed as the first data-driven style app of its kind. “David was twice our budget, but like all internet love stories, we figured it out,” says Laura.
2) Someone’s probably already thought of it
There are currently over two million apps available on the App Store, so the chances of you coming up with an entirely new concept isn’t all that likely. But fret not, boasting strong similarities to another app doesn’t mean you have to go back to the drawing board. Ultimately, it all comes down to the execution. What if Facebook had bowed out before it had even begun because MySpace was already on the scene? If you think there’s a way to make it better, go forth and build. Or, you know, pay someone else to build.
3) Establish who your app caters to
Apps can be divided into three groups: apps that are born out of need, apps that generally make life easier and apps that are purely there for entertainment.
“Really think through the whole app from your user’s point of view,” advises Laura. “What will it be like for them to use it, and where in their life do you fit in? For us, we realised it was a viable idea based on our own experiences of shopping in stores and online,” she says of the moment that she knew Cinderly had the potential to make the sometimes-arduous process of finding beautiful clothes that fit well easier.
4) There will be a lot of testing involved
And retesting. And possibly some more retesting. Cinderly rolled out a soft launch around six months ago and has since been gathering information and feedback from users. The makers are currently in the process of refining the app before rolling out a new updated version in 2017. “We want to make Cinderly like the Pokemon Go of retail – a ‘Mall Madness’ game for the digital age,” says Laura.
5) It might not work out
Before you throw all of your energy into your app, you need to acknowledge that it mightn’t be the resounding success that you dream it could be. If it’s not, you wouldn’t be alone. In fact, statistics show that as few as 11% of all apps created sell over the elusive 50,000 mark. And yet, if you really believe in your idea and are willing to be brave, put in the groundwork – who knows where it could lead?