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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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Published on September 25, 2020

10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

How to Choose a VPN

  • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
  • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
  • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
  • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
  • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

Why You Should Trust Us

Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

1. NordVPN

The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

Buy this VPN.

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2. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

Buy this VPN.

3. Surf Shark

With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

Buy this VPN.

4. CyberGhost

Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

Buy this VPN.

5. IPVanish

IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

Buy this VPN.

6. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

Buy this VPN.

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7. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

Buy this VPN.

8. TunnelBear

As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

Buy this VPN.

9. Norton

Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

Buy this VPN.

10. StrongVPN

The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

Buy this VPN.

Bottom Line

Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

Reference

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