I've been developing apps in one form or another for over 10 years now. From web to mobile apps, small agencies to large enterprises. I have the experience to help you in your journey.
Understanding why you want to make an app will give you the direction you need during the development process.
As I mentioned in my previous post, there are a number of reasons you might want to make an app. A few of them might be:
Knowing your purpose for making an app will help inform your development process.
Understanding your audience will help you with marketing and gauging success.
Making an app to help you in your business is much easier to understand marketing and success. You are the user, so no real need to market (unless you want to open up your new found productivity to others and make some extra money with your idea), and as long as it solves your problems it was successful.
However, if you're wanting to hit the charts in the app stores, marketing just became a lot more challenging. You need to know you target audience and what is important to them. And gauging success could just be a matter of total users, or something more specific to your goals.
Your audience dictates the features that you build. If you're anything like me your first thought is, "Of course this is how it works. I won't build what someone doesn't want."
But you'd be surprised when it comes to app development how many people want to build what they want to build. It is a common story in the Indie Hackers community for someone to spend 6-12 months building something without having validated the idea.
It is important to validate your idea as you go. This validation will continue to inform the features you build and create that app that needs to be made. So there are no sacred cows here, your perfect ideas might not be so perfect in the minds' of your users.
In our previous example we already touched on validation. But let us dive a bit deeper into the topic here.
When you first have an idea, it usually is rough around the edges and needs some polishing. As tempting as it might be to polish it in the echo chamber of your mind; stop! Everything will just feel like a good idea to you when it doesn't escape your own mind.
Start reaching out to your intended audience (that you identified above right?). They will have a different understanding of the problem than you (unless of course you are your intended audience). Start asking questions about the problems that they deal with in the space you're targeting. But don't lead them to any one answer, you want their responses to be organic and truthful.
This has the potential to be a painful experience for the app-maker-hopeful. You might find out that your idea isn't needed, won't work, or isn't plausible. That is great! The faster you can validate your app idea (or realize it isn't valid in this case), the sooner you can take on projects that will be important to your audience.
This last section, validation of target, might have teased out an interesting idea for you if you're paying attention. You need to share your ideas with other people. A lot of people that are holding onto an app idea are scared that someone will take their idea and run with it.
Normally I would say don't worry about that though. Execution is the challenging part of developing an app (unless you're more of an introvert as I am and find the validation part to be particularly tricky).
Focus on your idea, and the benefits it will provide. No one will be able to make the exact same app as you as you are an individual.
Taking the time to understand your app before development will improve the process and the outcome. Pick your favorite brain storming method and get a clear idea of what it is that you're actually wanting to build.
Once you've gotten clear on your idea, you can't start down the process of validating it. But we'll save that topic for another post.