5 Things to Know Before You Start Building a Mobile App

You have an idea for an app you know is going to be epic. It solves a real problem and it’s going to ‘fly off the shelves’ at the app store. But you have no idea about developing mobile apps, so you are outsourcing the development process. All you need to do is explain your app to the developer, maybe sketch it out on a napkin (in true start-up style) and voila! Your app will be up and running in no time. Right? Maybe not.

There is a lot of ground to be covered between the conceptualization and the development stage. You need to be really clear in your head about the app you want, before you approach a development team. Here are 5 basic things you need to answer, before you set out to develop your mobile app:

What Does Your App Do?

You must be rolling your eyes thinking, “Of course I know what my app does. That is the whole idea.” But think again.

Let’s say you had the idea to build Instagram. You are clear about the fact that you want to build an app that allows people to exclusively share images. But what exact features are you looking to include in this app? Can people repost other’s images? Will there be a direct messaging option? Can people operate multiple accounts? What will the privacy settings entail?

Every app has a host of features and capabilities beyond the core idea. You need to take into account all the features that you want in your app, and decide whether all of these will be available when you first launch the app. Do you want to focus on a few key functions to launch a minimum viable product (MVP) and then add other features based on customer feedback?

Having clear answers to all these questions will come in handy when you explain your app to the developer. This will help break down the development process into stages, with a certain number of features being added at every stage. You can also agree upon realistic timelines for your app.

Most start-ups today have a website and are eager to have a mobile app, to be easily accessible to a larger customer base. It is important to realise that developing mobile apps is not the same as building a ‘mobile version of your website’. So you need to think afresh and look at aspects like:

  • The customer base that will use your mobile app.
  • What features of the website should be available on the app?
  • How to create a seamless experience for users moving between the website and the app.


Pro Tip: Once the developer gets to work and presents you with a version of your app, you will look at it and know what you don’t want. That means more time spent on making iterations. So it’s wise to start off with a clear brief of what is it that you do want.

Developing mobile apps

Native or Web Based Apps? Or Hybrid?

Before you start developing mobile apps, there’s a three way crossroad: web based, native or hybrid?
Web-based apps are the most convenient option when it comes to mobile app development. These apps run on your web browser, rather than residing in your phone, and are easy to build and maintain. The greatest advantage is that they are compatible with all mobile devices and operating systems, be it iOS, Android or Windows. But on the flip side, these apps do not really leverage the full potential of the mobile device, to provide a great user experience.
Native apps, on the other hand, are the ones that you download from the app store. They are called ‘native’ because they are developed separately for each different OS.
On the plus side, native apps:

  • Can harness the inherent capabilities of the devices like display, GPS information, images etc to provide a superior user experience.
  • Can locally store a lot of the app information on the mobile device and hence are much faster and responsive.
  • Offer greater security as compared to web based or hybrid apps.

However, building native apps require greater expenditure in terms of time and money, since the code base required is different for each OS.
As the name suggests, hybrid apps are a mid way between web-based and native apps. At the core is a web-based app that provides uniform functionalities across devices. This is then wrapped as a ‘native’ code base that makes it better suited to different OS. The key benefit here is obviously multi-OS compatibility while still leveraging the hardware capabilities of different devices. However, they are not as powerful in terms of UX as compared to native apps.
So based on the kind of functionality you want, the device preferences of your core customer base, and your budget, you can make a choice between one of these app formats.

Offline Capability?

It is pretty annoying when that addictive game you were playing on your phone would not work in the subway, due to weak connectivity. How are you supposed to pass the time?
If your app is one that aims to engage users for long periods of time, you should put some thought into deciding which features should be accessible even when the user is offline. There are technical limitations to what an app can do offline, but it’s a good idea to at least discuss the offline possibilities.

App Monetization?

Since you are investing money into building your mobile app, you should be making money off it as well. Is it going to be a paid app? Or a free app with premium features that can be unlocked with further payments? Or a completely free app with in-app advertising? Your initial app monetization strategy needs to be in place before you start building your app. This will help the development team integrate these features into your app before you launch it on the app store. However, you do not need to lose too much sleep over it since you have the option of modifying the strategy as you go, based on usage data.

How Much Does It Cost?


Before you embark on imaging an a feature rich app, you need you have an idea of how much it costs to develop an app. From your perspective, it might look like just writing a piece of code that enables your app to do everything that you imagined. But developing mobile apps is more complex than you think.

Here at AppWorks, we work with you to first understand your app and what your users would want from it. The next step is to design the wireframes to showcase how your app is going to look. Then there is the user experience, which can make or break your app. And once all that is decided, only then do the developers get to work on the code. Given the amount of labour and various skill sets required, there would obviously be a proportionate budget involved.

You need to have a fair idea about your available budget and the actual expenditure necessary to build the app of your dreams. Based on this you can opt to launch an MVP that can be developed within your budget, and then move on to adding more to it depending upon the customer response.

So that’s the top five things you need to be prepared with, before you outsource your app development process. Trust us, the development team is going to be pleasantly surprised if you have all this information in place, and will be able to deliver an app exactly as you imagined.

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