Securing Your Resources
Now that you know your market and your user and have nailed down a brand strategy, it’s time to build the team — and set aside the budget — that you’ll need to bring your app to life.
As we’ve said before, it’s essential to have a clear set of defined business goals for your app. What you want to present to the world, and believe will be competitive in the marketplace, will act as the framework for the development of your product. The goal in this section is to create a workable product to test drive, tweak and improve.
Mobile-first companies most likely have a dedicated, in-house team in place, but newer publishers may have to assemble a team, possibly from scratch. Here’s what you’ll need to get started.
Since app development is a specialized space, it requires specialized knowledge. Make sure you have people with mobile-specific experience on their resumes, and listen to their recommendations. For any app development project, you’ll need:
- Product manager: As the CEO of the app, this person is responsible for setting the vision, understanding customer needs, deciding which features to prioritise, coordinating resources, maintaining schedules, setting a release strategy and keeping the team working toward the same goal.
- Writing team: Good writers produce clear, concise, and inviting copy for your app that reflects your brand and makes users want to spend time with your app’s content and services.
- Graphic Designers: Graphic designers will generate your app's color palette, app store icon, in-app icons, and in-app illustrations and animations.
- UI/UX designer(s): These are your user interface and user experience design experts. They are responsible for the overall look, feel and flow of the app.
- Engineer(s): This person is responsible for the fundamental programming of the app, executing your prioritized features and performance goals.
- Quality assurance specialists: Individuals in this role are responsible for finding and fixing any performance bugs or security concerns in your app. Resource-strapped companies often put quality assurance on an engineer’s plate, but it is a role best separated from an engineer’s responsibilities.
Should You Outsource Development?
If assembling this team in-house isn’t realistic (and this is frequently the case), there are a number of app development companies to choose from. You’ll want an experienced team devoted to developing your vision for an app, and most likely there will be plenty of back and forth involved. A few guidelines to follow when searching for a team:
- Review its portfolio: What other apps has it made? Do those apps have particular features or UI/UX differentiators that you’d like to bring to your project?
- Consider their experience level: Has the team made apps in your category before? How many have been successful? These questions will also help you assess pricing options.
- Look for ratings and reviews: How have people reacted to the team’s work? Testimonials from satisfied (and believable) customers are a must.
Whether you’re building a team in-house or outsourcing the project to a third-party, your budget will be a major factor in decision-making.
The largest, most complex apps can cost upwards of $1 million and leaner, less complex apps, like those designed for a specific, short-term event, can run in the $50K range. While there are certainly successful apps produced for nearly nothing, just like any business venture, it will be difficult to reap significant rewards without making a significant investment.
Given that budgets for apps can vary so widely and that a budget can depend on a variety of factors, here is an initial list of questions to answer:
- What level of complexity do you require at launch?
- How many people can you afford to devote to this project? Think through exactly how many developers and designers you’ll need, for example. Will you have someone devoted to marketing your app? What about for app store optimization and user acquisition campaigns?
- What is your global rollout plan, and how many different versions will that entail?
All of these decisions — and certainly many more — will need to be folded into your proposed spend.
Keep in mind that apps are a process, not a project. So while the largest expense will likely come up-front, there will be ongoing expense in app maintenance and development — and don’t forget marketing.
Remember, if you’ve aligned your app strategy to your business goals, your app should also directly or indirectly generate revenue and cost savings.
In the next lesson we'll discuss using your core value proposition as a guide when developing your initial feature list.