Grumpy Cat's credits: Grumpy Cat®
If you’re considering turning your innovative idea into a novel app, you’ve more than likely been flooded with alleged horror stories of first-time app development disasters – which may tend to scare you away from taking your shot at publishing the next hit app of Flappy Bird proportions.
To help dispel the hoopla around first mobile app dev crash & burn, we had a chat about common industry myths and misconceptions with Anna Andreevskaja and Svetlana Grachova, two of our app creator clients who just launched their mission, Taste A Movie:
Taste a Movie features detailed recipes of dishes prepared, eaten or discussed in iconic motion pictures. Anna and Svetlana’s mobile app brings cinematic cuisine right into your kitchen. Search for meal ideas filtering by Category (Breakfasts, Soups, Snacks, Main Courses, Desserts, Beverages, Salads); Cuisine (Mexican, French, Russian, Italian, etc.) or Movie – or instead just tap 'Random Choice' and let fate decide.
Myth 1. Making an app is hard and scary. Boo!
Whatever stories people may tell, for Anna and Svetlana making an app was a fun experience from the very beginning:
Anna: It all started when we met in a German language course. We ended up hanging out and eventually generating ideas for a startup business. We came up with the idea of opening a café/restaurant where visitors could order dishes from their favorite films. After a couple of months had passed, Svetlana called me suggesting that instead of a café, why not turn the idea into an app?
Svetlana: If you watched The Big Bang Theory series, you might recall an episode where Sheldon and his mom discussed his recent purchase of a weaving loom: “Honey, where did you get this weaver's loom?” – “Oh. I was working with luminescent fish and then suddenly thought: ‘Oh, a loom!’” That’s just about what happened to me. I was heading to a job interview and suddenly thought: ‘Oh, an app!’ I called Anna and she liked the idea. We started right away, recalling movies with famous food scenes, creating a database, and watching and rewatching lots of films.
Certainly, there were many doubts going in, but there was also one big plus: we didn’t find any such app on Google Play or in the App Store. So we figured that if we didn’t make it, someone else would soon enough. So, we decided to give it a shot.
Myth 2. Mobile projects always go over budget
Svetlana: We didn’t exceed the budget. The original estimate given by Azoft was quite accurate, and moreover, we were even able to reduce certain costs at that stage.
Anna: What we neglected to include while planning the budget for the app were advertising & promotion expenses, which became a crucial mistake. We strongly recommend you think about this aspect beforehand, as your ROI almost fully depends on app promotion.
Svetlana: The result was a cool new app on Google Play that no one knew about. So we created a website, adding domain and hosting expenses to the cost, and we purchased some stock photos to use, as Creative Commons images were not working for us. Although the amount spent and budgeted toward future promotion is relatively less than the development cost, it is just as vital to the app’s chances of success.
Myth 3. Mobile designs never meet expectations
Anna: The design was awesome. We were really impressed, and it came out looking exactly like we thought it would.
Svetlana: I often felt like the typical client who becomes the hero of programmer jokes, like ‘This blue is not blue enough’ and such. But design is all about shades and tastes, about emotions more than logic. And that’s why in the end our results struck a compromise between our and the designer’s ideas. The outcome was a cute, stylish, and very attractive. Many thanks to the designer for creating a cool concept and having lots of patience with us!
Anastasiya, UI designer at Azoft: It was a real pleasure to work on Taste a Movie. The client wanted the app to be elegant and cinematic. I was thinking of a concept and was inspired by the comfy-cozy style chalkboard sidewalk menus sometimes seen in front of cafés. It also evoked the feeling of moviemaking as it looked a little like a film scene clapperboard. Blending that monochrome icon with jazzy visuals resulted in us creating a catchy UI with lots of character.
Myth 4. Mobile developers are like aliens (...or maybe they really are!)
They speak an incomprehensible language, ignore orders and deadlines and, yes, they have even been known to abduct coders.
Svetlana: While we thought that we’d worked out everything up to even the most minute details during the planning stage, various issues arose during the development process. The hugest and not so pleasant surprise appeared during the final stage: it turned out that the format we used to write all our 200+ recipes couldn’t be easily integrated into the app. The greatest shock was not that fact itself but that we hadn’t discussed this with the team at the beginning, seeing that recipes are the core of our app concept. We were about to panic but the PM came up with an elegant solution that required some effort on both sides, but the problem was able to be solved.
- Tip 01: Ask your developers questions. If you have a smallest doubt, ask, or else it may cost you a significant number of extra hours to rework an issue. Ask questions that may seem stupid. Ask questions that are stupid – they might end up raising issues that are gravely important. Working in close collaboration will get your app published faster while allowing it to remain truer to your vision.
- Universal tip: Never panic. A solution is always out there, and your team will find by working together (see Tip 01).
Anna: There were problems but mostly because we couldn’t provide the content in a timely manner.
- Tip 02: If the app project is not going to be counted on as your primary source of income, you should estimate beforehand how much time you are able to dedicate to the project. The actual time commitment necessary will clue you whether it’s time to start – or to pass on the idea.
A few more hints and afterthoughts
- Tell the world about your app. Now I’m not talking about the advertising, although it’s of critical importance as I’ve mentioned earlier. Show your app to all your friends and colleagues. They may not only leave a nice review if they like it but also give you valuable advice even though mobile development itself is not their specialty.
What I would strongly recommend before starting an app is to:
- Target your audience – Provide a clear definition of who your audience is, imagine them, give them names. It’ll help greatly while developing for usability. Next, create a list of features that will make your app something special for these very people. How will it help them? How will it amuse them? Think of their benefits.
- Calculate – There are various ways to monetize apps such as through ads, in-app purchases or extremely helpful bonus features, so you need to calculate carefully which one best fits the personality of your app. If it’s your first app, you’ll need to do a lot of reading and research before making these decisions.
We are now starting a new stage of our project – the promotional stage. It’s a completely new area for us and seems like lots of work. However, it’s very important and we are enjoying doing it. When we read customer reviews we feel genuinely happy that our app amuses, surprises, and helps people. It shows us that what we’ve done hasn’t been a waste of time and money, and that we have a reason to continue our work creating useful and engaging apps.