How to Build a Software Application That Succeeds?

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Being part of a company that has provided the developers to build software applications by the hundreds over the last few years, I can honestly say that while this sounds like a straightforward question, it isn’t.

Indeed, the inclusion of the word ‘successful’ was very deliberate on my part. Truth be told, just about anyone can make a software application these days, particularly thanks to the emerging low-code no-code app builders like Appy Pie. But build an app that becomes successful, well, therein lies the alchemy.

Or so you would think. Actually, it is not magic but rather an exact science that is behind all successful applications. Granted, this science does require a bit of luck, but the science is 90% of the picture.

Ok, so what am I talking about? Let’s dive in.

A Great Idea is the Seed From Which all Success Grows

As I mentioned in my introduction, during my many years running a hybrid software development company I have seen many projects come across my table. To be totally honest, I am nearly always impressed by the ideas that startups and enterprise companies seem to constantly come up with.

However, the issue is that when I talk to my companions in the software development industry, I often hear them talking about similar projects that have crossed their desks. Unfortunately, this is the nature of the software development industry. Just consider how many cryptocurrencies were launched in 2018 alone, and you will get some scope of just how competitive this industry really is.

The reason is simple, there is a huge amount of money and success to be had for those who succeed. But don’t let this dishearten you. While everyone has heard of Uber and Airbnb, for example, I can tell you that the vast majority of projects that we have built are doing well in the marketplace.

Having a great idea is vital if your app has any chance of succeeding. The key is to identify a real gap in the market or to know how your software solution can make a giant hole in an existing one. TikTok is a great example of an app that has punched a huge hole in a saturated marketplace. By recognizing the value of short videos, the platform has not only gained immense success but also is redefining the social media marketplace in a big way. Companies like Facebook are scrambling to catch up.

Proper Project Planning

The next vital component is proper project planning. I will include detailed market research as part of this. Having come up with a great idea you need to get as accurate as possible picture as possible of its potential in the marketplace.

With what I like to call “in-house apps”, meaning applications that are to be used in or alongside existing systems, this research just needs to be focused on ensuring the final product fulfills all the needs of the staff using it. In regards to new apps or apps competing in the app marketplace, then you need to know as much as possible about who is going to use it, what they need, how many people will use it, etc.

When it comes to project planning, you should work in collaboration with your initial development team (designers, architects, etc.) to outline how you are going to go about building your idea. Pay careful attention to the technologies that you are going to use as they will have a big impact on things later on.

One example is whether you code in Objective-C or Swift when building an iOS application. While both languages were designed by Apple, Objective-C is now 30 years old and is 2.6 times slower than Swift. However, there are far more developers able to code well with Objective-C, for example, so it is likely that companies can find a better developer for less.

I always encourage companies to include the project manager(s) who will be responsible for managing the development as early as possible in this stage. The reason for this is that it not only gives them the clearest possible picture of what the client team wants but also allows them to give vital input into the best technologies and processes.

In more cases than I can remember, this single fact has helped save our clients enormous amounts of time and money. Obviously, this fact depends on you having an experienced project manager who has a wide range of different projects under their belt.

Get Yourself a Rocket Team

I like to say that you will never get your application into orbit without a rocket. In the case of software development, this means getting yourself a rocket development team.

Some of you will already have an existing development team that you know and trust, so provided that you have all the skills and experience that you need within the team, you are ready to go. However, most of you reading this will likely need to build your team from scratch or supplement your existing team with additional professionals with the skills you don’t already have.

I have already declared my interest in this subject as the CEO of a hybrid software development company that both builds software projects from scratch as well as hires out its full-time developers to companies that need them. What I try to encourage companies planning to develop any application is to look high to the sky for developers before making any decision.

I have written about how to find a great developer in a previous article here so won’t repeat myself, only to say that most companies (with previous development experience) actually find themselves very surprised at the value that experienced software developers offer them when compared to freelancers, etc. At the end of the day, you are not going to get a high-quality, bug-free, software application without a rocket software development team.

Read my other article should you want to learn more and consider creating an MVP or Minimal Viable Product if your budget is tight. This way you can get a quality product to market to test its viability.

Marketing

While marketing can get an application noticed, as Donald Trump’s social media application is finding out the hard way, marketing cannot guarantee success. That said, you should be working on carving out an innovative but flexible marketing strategy from almost the moment that you start planning your project build.

The reason for this is simple since most apps include a monetization strategy, they need to be developed in unison with the overall marketing strategy. It is likely that you or someone in your company is a pretty skilled marketer, otherwise, it would be unlikely that your company would have the money to build an application in the first place.

Another tip I offer to clients is to encourage the marketing team to get their hands on the product at all stages during its development. If you are using the Agile methodology, then get them to try out the functions and features when your developers approve them. Not only will this help create a clear picture in your marketing team of how your app will look and feel, but it will also give them a chance to give feedback as to any changes, bugs detected, etc.

While the approach above cannot guarantee the success of any application, without it, your project is much more likely to fail than to succeed.

Are you developing an application and found this useful? Perhaps you are an experienced software developer and have some tips to share. Please let us know your comments below to help us enrich the software development community even further. Best of luck with your software development project.


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