It’s hard out here for an independent app developer. Yes, apps are perhaps more mainstream than ever before, and one might assume that this means a more lucrative future for those who dare to go it alone. While not everyone in the industry believes it’s prudent to remain unattached to the corporate side of the industry, you may yet have a fighting chance for your passion project to take off like you’d always dreamed. If you are vying to remain firmly independent in your app-developing endeavors, here are some tips you should keep on the top of your mind.
- Start with a clear focus: We’re guessing that you may be brimming with ideas for potential apps that could be the “next big thing.” But slow down a second… no app has ever become a breakout success with a laundry list of features. Focus on a single concept, just one way in which your app helps or entertains users to optimize success.
- Always market yourself: Though it may be contrary to your nature, it’s essential that -- as an independent app developer -- you continually market yourself, your skills and, most of all, your app to everyone you meet. Without the extensive marketing budget of major developers, it’s up to you to ensure that your app reaches the end users you’ll target.
- Simplify your user interface: When it comes to design, you may be tempted to create a complex interface with tons of built-in goodies for users to enjoy. Ironically, this approach is the opposite of how you should tackle design, which should emphasize usability and simplicity over an overly convoluted approach that will only confuse users.
- Know your audience: This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many developers simply throw an app together without really taking a long, hard look at the consumers that will ultimately be using their product. Never forget that your users are the lifeblood of your app. Don’t expect them to seek you out; it’s the other way around.
- Secure and monitor your app: We all know how dangerous hacking can be, and with mobile technology all the rage, there’s a very real chance that your app could be at risk if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Be secure to install security measures into your app and include close monitoring to ensure that no tampering happens at anytime.
- Build a community: The strongest and most powerful apps out there have endured because they cultivated a community around them. This doesn’t mean you have to add a social media component to your app, but such a move certainly doesn’t hurt. Allow users to communicate in the app and create a culture that encourages them to keep logging in.
- Offer your app for free: Hear us out for a second. Just because you offer your app for download free of charge doesn’t mean there’s no way to monetize it. To the contrary, you can offer a variety of in-app purchases, incorporate ads in your app’s performance and go with a “freemium” version that leads users to purchasing the full premium one next.
- Develop a sound design strategy: Different philosophies exist regarding how best to design your app, but whichever approach you adopt, be sure that you thoroughly consider your options and settle on the best strategy for your app’s design. If there’s one situation you want to avoid, it’s rushing your launch without a clear design in place.
- Engage in active testing: Even when you think you have your app ready to roll out, that doesn’t mean you should stop testing. In fact, long after your launch, you should continuously be testing your app’s performance, design and functionality. That’s the only way to ensure ongoing improvement and keep it growing for years to come.
- Ensure its versatility: While you may choose for your app to be tailored to a specific platform, don’t forget about the potential user base you’ll be ignoring as a result. After all, multiple platforms have a significant market share, and there’s always the offline capability to consider as well. Be careful not to isolate your app from the get-go.
Even though you’re largely forced to make your own opportunities as an independent app developer, we cannot stress enough how critical it is that you follow your heart. Success rarely comes easy but is made even less likely when passion is absent from the picture.
Rather than wallowing in every obstacle, stay strong, heed the above tips and keep striving forward with the same commitment that led you to start developing in the first place. Your app might not be an overnight smash, but with a little tinkering and a bit of reinvention, there’s no telling what may come of your project.