3 things you should do before building an app

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In my field, we often get inquiries from entrepreneurs or business owners who are thinking of creating an app.  Unfortunately, many of these people are woefully underprepared for the venture and often have little more than an idea. Creating an app is a big decision, and not one to be entered into lightly. With millions of apps now in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store, your app's chances of success if you're not a fully funded startup or a large corporation with a huge marketing budget, quite frankly -- are limited.

This is not encouraging news, I know. But, there are some things that you can do to help your app to become a success and while success in the App Store is never guaranteed, you can always do things that will increase your chances.

Here are my top three tips for enterprising business owners who are thinking about creating an app:

Make a business case for your app

Your app needs to be more than a vanity project for your company. In fact, it's unlikely your app will be accepted into the Apple App store if its useful and actually provides a service. So, an app that in effect, does nothing won't get far. What's more, users might download your app but won't use it and you could garner lots of bad reviews. So, make sure that you are prepared for all that creating an app entails. This includes not only design and development costs, but maintenance and marketing. An app is never just a one time expense. Software is updated and devices change, too. Your app will need to be compatible with new version of software and new devices that come to market. Therefore, your development costs will need to include periodical maintenance costs. Marketing, too is often overlooked when considering app development. How will people find out about your app? If you're depending only on the App Stores' search algorithm, you'll be disappointed. It's not only a numbers game, but a popularity game. Make sure that before you release your app you've given some thought and budget to marketing and getting the word out about the app.

Identify and understand your user

Who is your user? Have you created a profile of your ideal user? Users will be lifeblood of your app. Without users, you have nothing. And most apps in the app store die on the vine without getting very many -- or any users to download the app.  So, its your job to create a clear profile of your user. You must understand this user inside and out and make sure that your app  something that they want and will use. In fact, they shouldn't just want to use it, it should be come a part of their lives. Your app needs to earn  the precious real estate that it will take up on your user's phone. Once it has, your app will have a better chance of staying there.

Do your research

The first steps on the road toward app development must involve some market research. Is there another app doing what your app does? What does the competitive landscape look like? What are the most popular apps in the your app's category? How will you compete with the existing apps? What makes your app better? How will you get the word out about your app? If your app is in a popular category of app (think: games or shopping) then you will have lots of competition. So ask yourself what sets your app apart from all of the other apps in the category? Make sure your answers are honest. Lying to yourself won't help you and it certainly won't help your app.

After you've reviewed each of the items above and have a clear way forward, then and only then should you consider developing an app.

Did you find these tips helpful? Let me know below.