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Hadrian

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Greetings Fastlaners!

Indie App dev from Ireland here... I see more and more threads asking about apps so I though I'd create a shared space for us to chat and bounce ideas around. I'll try to get some established professional software dev's to give their input as well. I hope it will provide some value and prevent some of you from spending thousands of dollars needlessly. :moneybag:

:bulb:

My Top Tips:

1.) Basically if your idea is a simple front end app it shouldn't cost the earth (1-5k) to make so go for it! I'd start off with a small app anyway as there is SO much to learn re. Apple iTunes/Google Play developer consoles etc.

2.) If its a more complicated back-end server based app it may well cost a LOT more (5-50k) so don't make it until you are sure there is a need and a market for your product. (Firebase and other similar software are now making this cheaper but you have to factor in scaling where the real costs will be).

3.) Typically 80% of App Revenue comes from iOS/Apple, 20% from Android/Google. This has been changing for the big players with big marketing budgets, but for indie dev's its better to start with iOS and move to Android when you validate the product and market. Note: Ad revenue has been falling sharply across the board!

4.) There is various software that allows you to make an interactive demo. I use Proto.io but its only one of several that allow you to have a phone mock-up app to give to users to play with. Make sure to use Mock-ups/Specs and if possible an interactive prototype. Do this first before you go anywhere near a dev!
Examples: (Balsamic/Adobe XD/Figma/Sketch). You can even hire someone to make this for you cheaply.

5.) Hiring individual developers is a difficult and risky process no matter where you go, East or West. West is expensive, East is messy. I've been burned by both. Using an App Agency is easier and safer but more expensive.

6.) If you plan on Outsourcing this is the best website: www.Upwork.com (NB. Use Fixed Payment Option and Fixed Milestones) as they use an escrow milestone payment option... its the only safe way to deal with developers.

7.) If you're going into this full on you're better off learning to code yourself and allocating 3-5 years.
It's far easier cracking code than cracking heads! (Check out Lambda School and App Academy below)

8.) Never Pay in full in advance. I cannot underline how stressful it is as an indie dev having no leverage and if you pay in advance you'll be put at the bottom of the agenda or get no code back at all.

9.) Most Important: Marketing is 90% of the battle. A difficult learning lesson as most Indie dev's are just ordinary guys/gals and it takes everything we have just to make the App!

10.) Don't create an app that needs an audience from the get go e.g. a dating app. It will be a Herculean task to make it a success and if you do the big players will just rip you off anyway. The Big Dating Apps Are Alienating Their Stakeholders

11.) Run a COMPLETE Competitor analysis to determine if you have an idea worth pursuing. If you have no competition you probably don't know the app market well enough. Check the competitor app reviews using Sensortower or App Annie. If there’s a constant stream of requests for your new feature/idea you’ve got something!

12.) Devs typically wont steal your idea as making the app is only 10% of the journey. Don't worry too much about NDA's as they're only useful if you have the time (years) and money ($1000's) to prosecute them.

13.) Cross Platform Code (Unity/Flutter/ReactNative etc.) is an option for many but has Pro's and Con's.
Pro: You can launch on both iOS and Android saving dev costs. Con: The more complex the app the less it can do. Reports vary but Eric from Overpass Apps goes into this in more detail.

14.) No-Code: I'm not familiar with No-Code software like The best way to build web apps without code | Bubble but I will post links to any good threads and comments below.

15.) PWA (Progressive Web Apps): These are basically websites converted into apps. Pro: You have Full control of the app. Con: There is no app store for these and you can't put them into Apple or Androids App Stores.


:bulb:

Recommended App Dev Threads:











:bulb:

Before you begin please check out these two useful beginner videos:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypWgQ8HtpTU

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvP0RjDB3bE

:bulb:


2 Great Resources to get some feedback on your idea before you spend any money:

~ If you have a little money then create a landing page and run some traffic to it to see if you get signups for your product idea.

:bulb:

3 Great YouTube Channels worth following as both are suitable for beginners:

App Masters for App design, ASO Audits, Marketing and Feedback:

Overpass Apps for Cross Platform Coding, App Ecosystem analysis, and Software development:

Tiff in Tech (How to become a Full Stack Developer):

:bulb:

Coding Training Courses:










Kind Regards,


Hadrian the Celt

PS ~ Apps are NOT a get rich quick business!

PPS ~ Remember 90% of the game is marketing, the Queen of MJ's chessboard!
 

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Last edited:

Hadrian

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Raja

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Hadrian

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One of the best answers on here came from a professional software developer Jon L
I hope he won't mind me posting his answer:

@Jon L

Software development is an immensely difficult undertaking. I run a small software development company, and I struggle to keep up with everything. I don't consider myself a programmer, but I've developed some stuff before on my own. I know enough to be dangerous. I do know database design decently well, so that is how I keep my developers in line. I will take a look at the database calls, the structure of the tables, etc., and from that can get a pretty decent idea of what is going on in their code. I rely on my lead developer to manage everything else. I do look at the code periodically. I've helped debug stuff and on occasion am even useful in my efforts.

All that said, what I do have is an ability to think logically, from the big picture to the small details. I know generally what software can do: what is easy for it, and what is difficult. I use this knowledge to design products that meet clients' needs without breaking their budget.

A number of years ago, IBM and a couple other companies did a study where they looked at the custom software market. Projects under $20m, they considered small. Small development projects failed, outright, 2/3 of the time. By 'failed,' they meant, 'the system was never put into long-term use.' What accounted for the vast majority of those failures? Poor system design. NOT poor coding. It was a lack of understanding of the problem they were trying to solve that directly caused the failure.

Why do I say all this? Most people get software development backwards: they Google "How to code," and get started on their project. This is a great way to learn to code. Its is NOT a great way to build a successful project, unless you like rewriting software for years on end.

The way to build a successful project is to:

1) pick the right problem to solve (easier said than done)
2) Fully understand the problem and its solution (also easier said than done)
2b) Figure out how to market the solution - marketing influences design and vice versa
3) Design a solution to the problem that is easy to code and that makes good choices about where to spend development effort
4) Do the actual coding
5) Test & release the product
6) Market
7) Build support systems around the product
8) Learn from your mistakes and iterate

As you think about your project, make sure you spend enough time on steps 1-3.

I typically rely on my clients to be experts in steps 1-2, so I'm not the best person to ask about what to do there. Maybe other people can chime in on that?

Edit: it occurs to me that steps 1-3 are interdependent. Picking a problem that will cost at least $100M to solve using software isn't good. Designing a marketing strategy that relies on code that is expensive to build/maintain isn't good. Designing a solution that can't be marketed easily isn't good either. You have to either be really good at all those things, or work closely with people that are.

:bulb:
 
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Hadrian

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Another Pot of Gold from @Jon L

Here's what I'd do: start out with a Udemy course just to get your feet wet, but then hire someone on Upwork overseas that charges $20/hr.

Why that rate? $20/hr overseas is a LOT of money. You'll get someone good.

Don't use them to actually program, though. Use them to ask questions when you get stuck. By doing this, you'll avoid Googling for 5 hours just to figure out how to do something that is common knowledge for a skilled dev. Use them also to advise you on how to structure your program. You don't want to paint yourself into a corner, programming-wise.

You'll need to negotiate with them on their response time and when they would be available to answer questions.

:bulb:
 

Hadrian

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A Great post from @peterb0yd

I will share my 2 cents.

Step 1: Formulate idea
Step 2: Validate idea
Step 3a: If validated, develop MVP
Step 3b: If not validated, find out why and go back to Step 1.

If you skip step 2, you're in for a rude awakening. The truly sad part is that you won't have your awakening until you finish the app development and launch the thing. That will most likely be one year from now.

You're probably wondering, "how do I validate the idea without building it?". There is ALWAYS a way.

Usually it involves interviewing dozens of your prospective customers. Then, build a landing page or mock-up (Step 1). Then try to get actual buy-in from dozens more prospective customers (Step 2).

Read "The Lean Startup". I feel like that book should be required reading to join this forum.

I've done this process 3 times now in the past year. I'm on my third try at the moment. Each time I've gotten better at interviewing, finding out what customers want and finding a way to develop it without custom code. I have learned the hard way to not skip any of the steps above. I am a full-stack software engineer with 8 years of professional experience. I do not recommend writing any code until Step 3.

:bulb:
 

Hadrian

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I'm not familiar with No Code Solutions but I found an interesting thread from:

@Bruno11

check out bubble.io ( think shopify for no- code)

you can build pretty much anything in terms of MVPs or most advanced apps(stuff like twitter, airbnb) can be built in a week for a rough prototype. if you need it to be a phone “app” you can wrap the app and connect it to different APIS.If f it takes off you can always get the app re-written in a native language If you don‘t wanna continue with no-code platforms

don’t waste your time learning programming beyond the basics, it takes years to master and those masters make their shitty apps after years just to compete on product hunt for top 100 spot cause the market is so saturated with ”great ideas”

:bulb:
 
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Hadrian

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A great post from:

@Mike Stoian

The best way to find out if you have a market for your idea is :

Phase 1 -> Go on the interwebs and ask around. Probably reddit would be a good place. Do not try to sell your idea or your soution. Just ask if other people have a problem taking notes like you do. Or maybe ask how people take notes and why. That should give you an idea if what problems people have and what other solutions/competitors are out there. If it looks like other people are in your shoes, then you're golden. Proceed to Phase 2.

Phase 2 -> make a small prototype. You can publish the app you already paid for, or make an edited video showing people how your solution would work( how dropbox did ), or simply ask them if an app like what you have in mind would be useful for them and you.
Go into this from a WE mentality. We all have the same problem, let's see if there's a way to fix it.

Phase 3 -> take the feedback they gave you and if needed, change your solution to better suit their needs.

Then present the new solution, then take feedback and change product again and again. Even after your product is live, still have a way to collect user feedback or user behavior data. You should always aim to improve your product.

I am currently in this process myself so if you need more tips, feel free to dm me.

:bulb:
 

Hadrian

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An excellent ebook (Now $50) on how to make an app from an old buddy of mine from an App Community called Bluecloud:

@BrooklynHustle

 

juicey

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Great thread. I have been in the app marketing space for over 2 years now and running Facebook/Google/Apple Search Ads campaigns with mostly higher budgets than a couple of thousand. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask.

One major game-changer is coming to app developers and publishers in the next months - iOS 14.5 and the termination of IDFA. It will dry up revenue from ads even more as people will start seeing less relevant ads in Apps due to the loss of personalization, thus reducing CTR's etc.

Running paid ads will also get more expensive, as the results of ad campaigns are harder to track and targeting is more inefficient.
 

Hadrian

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iOS 14.5 and the termination of IDFA

Yes indeed this has been causing waves of concern. I would 100% appreciate any updates as it seems the two big cash sink-holes for us app developers is App Development costs and Paid Acquisition costs... :cash:
 

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