What do you need to develop an app?

I’ve been spending some time thinking about what a person, or a group might need to be able to deliver an app for a phone, a tablet or a PC for people to get hold of and use. So far, I’ve identified eight general categories:

1. An idea
If you are going to produce an app, you really need to know what that App is. This might sound a bit obvious, but actually I think represents quite a shift from the more traditional world of software development – particularly for people used to the world of bespoke software development within organisations where people called “business analysts” define a problem, and the software architect or developer’s role is to produce a solution to that problem. Identifying the “problem” in the first place (or coming up with an idea that is truly innovative) is quite a different skill.

2. Motivation
To build an app, you’re going to need to have the motivation to build that app. If you are in paid employment, building apps, then it’s your job (although whether you’re motivated or not is a whole different topic). If you have a great idea that you believe in, then realising that great idea and getting it out to people who might want it might be the motivation you need. But without the motivation to build it, an app isn’t going to happen.

3. Time/resources
Building software takes time, effort, thought and possibly access to some hardware, software and services. You need the motivation to find that time if it’s not your day job (here speaks the somewhat exhausted father of two toddlers…).

4. Programming ability
To build software, you need the ability to program. That might be something you have yourself. It might be something that you train yourself to do, or it might be something that you find in others.

5. Design ability
The world of consumer apps tends to be much less tolerant of things that look ugly than maybe has been tolerated in software development in the past. To make things look beautiful, you need the ability (or find the ability in others) to design beautiful things.

6. Business and marketing ability
If the intention of developing an app is to start to turn it into a business, then understanding the mechanics of business planning, management and marketing are going to be important at some point. Likewise if you want to build apps for other people.

7. Technical understanding of a platform
If you’re building apps, you’re going to need to know how the platforms you are building for work, and also what they are capable of. Whilst you might have general programming abilities, this is the specifics of developing for a particular product or device.

8. Tools & other knick-knacks
Software development environments (or “Word for Programmers”), accounts to be able to distribute apps on marketplaces, and other bits and bobs are also required (and subject to the device that is being developed for).

6 thoughts on “What do you need to develop an app?

  1. I think I’d add money… if you actually want to get your app to market for a mobile device particularly you’re going to need a way to finance it.

    You’re going to need a budget for marketing, social media alone just doesn’t cut it.. You’ll need to register to release your app to the apps marketplaces and you’ll need to buy a test device or register with Vodafone or Nokia to access their remote test devices if you are looking to do an app that uses the low level api’s for things like gyro and camera. Nothing beats live testing an app before it’s available in the marketplace.

    Your app also has to have the “wow factor” from the word go to be really successful. (Be that usability, addiction, incredibly useful etc)

    I wonder if someone used your post they were guarunteed a top app! 😉

    1. I suppose I’d euphemistically put money under “resources”, but it’s a fair point to have it a bit more explicit. Must be too many years trying to call “cost” “investment” to make everyone feel happier about it!

      I’m not sure that the above categories guarantee success – but I would be interested to hear of any successes that hadn’t covered off all of the above to some extent…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.