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Have An App Idea? Here’s Where to Start

Have An App Idea? Here’s Where to Start

So, you have an app idea. What do you do now?

Some people do a quick Google search, see something relatively similar, and give up. Others research the process that creating an app entails, realize it’s not as easy as it sounds, and — again — give up.  So, since you’re already this far, congratulations on being farther along in the process than most. We’re here to help get you off the ground.

Step 1: Get the Lay of the Land

The first thing that should be on your radar is, if you haven’t already, to hit the ground Googlin’. Over 1,000 new apps hit the App Store each and every day. So, odds are there is something relatively similar already out there. If not, then you’re in luck. And if so, that’s not a dealbreaker either. It’s all about the execution, and if you can execute on that concept better than the last person, then you’ll still be ahead in the game.

Think about it this way: Facebook wasn’t the first social network. Friendster and Myspace came before it. But, which platform do you use today?

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So, rather than worrying about if there is anyone else doing what you want to do, think about how you can improve on those existing apps. Learn from them and see which features people like and which ones they don’t.

Step 2: Brainstorm Full Functionality and Specs

You know your competitors and what is already out there. You can now bring that back to the drawing board and think about exactly what your app will do. What functionality will it have?

Many first-time entrepreneurs go crazy here. They come out the other side of this step with a 30-page document explaining all of their product’s nice-to-have’s. Although this is tempting, maintain some discipline here!

Focus on your Minimum Viable Product. What are the core features that will make your app stand out? It should do just a few things, and do them very well. We preach to our clients (perhaps counter-intuitively for an app development company) to have as simple of a “V1” as possible; this lets our clients release their app, gather feedback, and pivot as necessary.

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This is called a “Specifications Document,” and is the best way to portray your idea to any app designers or developers that you may be working with in the future. That’s why it’s best to get this stuff written down now in advance prior to moving forward!

Step 3: Understand your Development Options

You know your competitors. You know what your app will do. Now, it’s time to figure out how this thing will be built.

Is it something that is simple, like an app that will help your restaurant put its menu on an app? Or is it a simple data app that shows text to users within certain pages? If so, an out-of-the-box app builder platform is definitely your best bet. There are many, many options out there that let you create simple “canned functionality” apps for a minimal cost, like:

What happens if your app needs more than the limited amount of features that an app builder like these can provide? As an example, when SnapChat first came out, there wasn’t a templated “app builder” that could make photos disappear. This requires custom coding, where a development shop like Designli is needed. If your app needs custom functionality, it’s time to start thinking about how the full app development process works.

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First and foremost, pursuing the paid app development course will require a budget. Apps typically start at $10,000, depending on the company that you’ll hire to develop your idea (and their location), and work their way up from there. Do you have access to capital to invest in your new business? If not, it may be time to start thinking about raising some money from friends and family or entering a business plan competition that will give you a cash prize if you bring home the win.

Some agencies that develop apps for startups and entrepreneurs ease the pain of raising investment and getting others to “buy in” to your brilliant idea by providing services that can help.

One thing you may notice right away is that it’s hard to convince others to give you money in order to build your app. It’s even harder if you are a first-time entrepreneur and have nothing to show potential investors other than a few written paragraphs describing your idea. You may (and should) have a business plan, or at the very least a Specification Document as outlined in Step 2 above.

This challenge may be dealt with by taking advantage of a fixed-price Graphic Design package. This means an agency will take your Specification Document and wireframe out — and complete the entire design for — every screen of your app. At the conclusion of this package, you’ll know exactly what every screen of your app will look like and what features it will have. You’ll also have a click-through prototype showing exactly how the app will work. Put this on a potential investor’s phone and they’ll think you’re already halfway to the finish line. They’ll have no problem understanding what your app will do and how it’ll do it.

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Step 4 and Beyond: Development!

Now that you have your app designed and your functionality written both in plain English and displayed visually, there’ll be no confusion when it comes time to develop the app. Now’s the time to shop for a development team. How do you do that, you ask? There are tens of thousands of app development companies after all.

This is a conversation for another day, and a lengthy one at that. In the meantime, you have your marching orders — let’s get your functionality solidified and a decision made as far as paths for design and development.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any assistance!

Featured photo credit: Thom via Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Keith Shields

CEO, Designli

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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