1. Do you need an app?
Do you really need an app? Or are you doing it because it seems like anyone and everyone has one? The best apps are built to serve a specific purpose. Perhaps it's managing user accounts on the go, filling up spare time waiting (games!), or filling a specific need. If your app will just be a reiteration of your mobile friendly website, or there's no clear purpose to your app, you may want to reconsider or refine your idea.
2. Design from the beginning
Design must be planned out from the beginning. It's not enough to get the app into a functional state, plan out the design aspects ahead of time. Do user testing. Ensure that your app is intuitive to use and doesn't confuse users. An app that's confusing, and hard to understand won't win any fans or downloads.
3. Choose the right developer
Choose a developer who has the technical skills needed and an understanding of your app's purpose. As with many things in life, choosing the cheapest option may not be the best option. You want a developer who will be able to work with you and give you the best quality product for your end users.
4. Choose Your Operating System
Who will be using your apps? If you know the majority of your customers already use iOS then it may be wise to start with a native iOS app. Native apps can give a more cohesive experience in the operating system in which they function. Will you branch out into Android later? What about Blackberry and Windows? Each native app will require it's own development time and cost. HTML5 apps are easier to port to each system however, they may not offer the same level of operating system integration that native apps do. Choose wisely.
5. Test, Test, Test!
Always thoroughly test your app. Test the app for bugs, glitches and user friendliness. Your users expect a finish product that works well and doesn't crash every time they try to open it. From spelling & grammar errors, to data storage & security, test ALL THE THINGS! Time spent testing will pay off with positive app reviews and happy users.
6. Consider the Future
Technology will change, your app will need updates, expansions and patches. Have a plan for these occurrences. From additional features, to integrating with the latest operating system updates your app will have to keep in touch with the times.
Apps won't download themselves! In all the excitement of app development don't overlook the marketing aspects. Get the word out to your customers and clients. Utilize your social media, and content marketing efforts to support your app. Start early, before launch, to build suspense and anticipation for the launch!
Developing an app can be an involved process. There are many services that can make this easier however they do have tradeoffs. Planning out your app from the very begining and considering it's entire lifespan will help your business to make the best choices to get the product desired. Do you have any other suggestions to help businesses developing an app for the first time? Share them in the comments!