In the previous case study I talked about:
- Initial App Idea and Product Strategies
- IOS and Android Marketing Research
- App Monetization Strategies
In part 2 of this case study we will look at how to develop an Android or IOS app, in particular the actual development process I took for the score keeper app. This post will focus mainly on the higher level overview of the app development process and is not an in depth “how to” on the technical aspects.
If you would like more info on the over case study, please see take a look at the pre-amble.
Simple Requirements and Functions List
My first task was to create a simple requirements list. The requirements list will govern all the different functions that the initial launch an app would have. This can be done by focusing on the main functions to be included in the app based of off your marketing research. Here is an excerpt from the requirements list that I built for my score keeping app:
- Menu. Home page for the app
- New Game Wizard. For setting up a new games
- Game Saving &Loading. Allows of loading previous played games
- Player Profile Management. Allows for adding and removing member profiles. Players should be able to select unique icons.
- Full Game & Player Analytic’s System. Player win/loss statistics. Game statistics.
- Score Cards. For now just do two simple scoring templates. A two player and a generic multiplayer scorecard template.
- Countdown and Stopwatch timers. Additional tools to go along with the game templates.
Once you have finalized this list do not deviate from it. It’s amazing the amount of new ideas you will have once the development actually starts. It can be tempting to try to add those additional features as you build, better known as feature creep, which will inevitably slow down the project.
If you do have an idea or want to expand a function, save it for “Phase 2” after the initial app launch.
Once I had a simple requirement’s list down I started to wireframe the project.
Wireframing The Project
Wireframing is a quick way to take all the ideas and functions you thought of and put them into a visual form. This is a simple way to visually represent what the project will look like and how it will function. Wireframing is paramount if you’re going to delegate the actual building of the app to a third party to help convey thoughts, ideas and functionalities.
Wireframing a project allows you to get an idea of the overall project scope. This can help gage how long the project will take to fully develop and possible development pitfalls. Sometimes it can be better to keep the project as simple as possible to fish around for interest, then expand to a phase 2.
This is the final wireframe I came up with that governed the initial project scope, including functions and features for my score keeping app:
One of the better wireframing tools I have found is Balsamiq. Their tool set and plug-ins allows you to wire frame websites, apps and software. They do have a fully functional free trial which gives ample time to play around.
Building The App
Now for the actual building of the app. There are TWO different avenues I could have taken.
- Build the app myself
- Hire someone to build it for me
At this point the Entrepreneur and the Developer inside of me raged a war.
Guess who lost. My developer alter ego got the best of me. Since I already had the skill set to fully develop Android and IOS apps, how could I let anyone else build it?
All the while in my head the business side of me kept saying, “Just because I have the skill set to fully build an app or a piece of software or a website, is it always beneficial for the business to do so?”. I ignored it and started the development process myself.
<insert additional sarcastic foreshadowing of failure here>
I gave myself four weeks to complete this app project. This included:
- Both IOS AND Android versions
- A simple niche site for the app
Initial Functions and Features
The actual development process of any project will change from person to person. Some people like to develop around the design, I personally like to start developing around the functionality which in the end will help drive the design. So I set off with the initial goal of building this app and ensuring all the different functionalities from our requirements were implemented.
Once the majority of the app core features were built, I started working on the UI and graphics.
I consider myself more of a developer than a designer. I know what looks good, I just don’t know how to put it together from scratch. So I am very thankful for all the different freelance and stock sites.
App Menu and Various Backgrounds. I needed some good looking graphics to spiffy up my app. More importantly for the screen shots I would soon have to take for the app stores.
App Icon. The app icon is one of the strongest selling points of an app. When someone is browsing through similar apps within the app stores, they are more likely to click on the app that looks professional VS a custom built app icon done in Windows paint.
For this reason I will always hire out to have my app icons built. My general strategy is to use a freelance site like Fiverr.com. Fiverr if fantastic because you can get some really nice quality work very cheaply. I will usually hire out my app icon design to 3-4 different people and then pick the best one. All in all $20 for a good looking app is not bad.
This strategy worked fantastic in the past for my other apps. Unfortunately I could not get a decent looking app icon for my score keeping app. Running out of time I picked the best of the best.
Building the Support Niche Site
One scoring app to rule the world! Part of this delusion was to have a niche site to support the app.
The initial goal of this site was to help build my authority as THE score keeper app and also to acquire traffic organically to be funneled toward the app stores.
In addition, depending on the popularity of the app I could also turn this simple funnel site into a full blown affiliate site about score cards and score boards.
So I went to work creating the home page, about 2k words of SEO juice for the search engines. I also added the normal support pages that a site must have:
- Contact Us
- About Us
- Site Maps
And last I added the actual “Get the App” web page with links to the Android Play Store and IOS Connect Store fronts.
Niche Site Theme. Because I am a developer and couldn’t stand the idea of NOT building the site myself, I opted to host on my own system and custom build this site. I used a simple FREE bootstrap theme. Looked decent and is responsive, so I was happy with it. Overall it took me about a week to build this simple support site from start to finish.
All together it took me FOUR MONTHS to build this myself. ><
I severely under estimated my development time which had adverse effects on everything else that was to follow (including marketing & promotions).
Being a full time dad, husband, house fixer upper and working a full time job during the day took a toll on the time, motivation and creativity I had to actually build this thing. I spent nearly every evening and weekend I could afford working on this app.
In the end, the length of development time with everything else in my life at the time was reflected in both my creativity and overall projects “Attention to Details” (a term I picked up in the military).
With development finished I now needed to launch and then implement my plans for marketing and promoting the score keeping app. Already running low on fumes from an extended development time, I put my head down, gritted my teach, crossed my eyes and pushed on…
The next post will focus on marketing, promotion and finally launching the score keeping app.
Have you ever took on more than you could chew on a project? How about how a simple business decision can alter the course of the over all project, for better or worse?