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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 May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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