Updated July 8, 2020:

Which App Should I Pursue if I Have Many Ideas?

If you want to know how to start an app, begin by thinking about the type of program you want to invent. As an app developer, you don't need to pursue only a single idea. In fact, the most successful developers tend to make money by working on a few great ideas at once. You never know which of your concepts will become a marketplace hit. Release each idea, then give it about four to six months to catch on before moving on to something new.

Games tend to be the most popular apps, but this is also the area where you'll have the most competition, making it more challenging to differentiate your game. 

Start by exploring the mobile app market so you have a thorough understanding of the industry before diving in. Get to know the biggest successes and the worst failures so you know why they caught on or sank without a trace. Stay abreast of the latest trends so you can anticipate what will be the next big thing. However, you don't have to reinvent the wheel to make money. Simple apps, like guidebooks, to-do lists, and other basic utilities, can get dozens or even hundreds of daily downloads if they work well and look great. 

Consider the needs of the market that are not fulfilled. Popular sectors include apps to help businesses:

  • Find a new audience
  • Monetize their users
  • Manage their social media pages
  • Access other tools and resources 

I Have an App Idea, but Where Do I Start?

As with any other business, building an app starts with a great idea. However, experienced app developers note that the idea is only about 5 percent of the work of creating a successful app. You'll need a solid team that is ready to put in the effort. 

The first step is to write down your idea in as much detail as possible. Find an online prototyping resource, which will allow you to mock-up your app idea screen by screen in a diagram known as a wireframe. When your ideas are well thought out, find a design and development company to bring your app to life. 

Next, flesh out your app idea by writing a thorough business plan. This step can help you analyze the market, trim your budget, and prevent unnecessary expenditures. It's best to start with short-term plans before developing projection and strategy, both of which will come with time. Because the app industry is quite competitive, having attainable long-term goals will help keep you on track. Your business plan should be simple enough to communicate your idea, and outline the steps to bring it to fruition. It should also estimate expenses and income. 

How Do I Know Whether the Customer Wants My App?

Develop a quick prototype and get it to the market as soon as possible. This will give you an idea of the demand for this type of app without the time and expense of creating a full version with all the features. Not only will you get a sense of whether people want to buy your app, you'll also have a built-in audience for market research.

Should I Build a Mobile Website or a Native App?

With more than a million apps on both the Android and iOS app marketplaces, app developers have serious competition. Mobile websites are usually not the best choice since they do not provide customer value, while apps are specifically designed for a dynamic handheld experience. The reformatted website information in mobile form is unlikely to generate a sale in the app store compared with a native app. 

One business strategy is to help companies turn their existing websites into free apps. For example, apps with online forms interact with customer databases to store information about leads. They are easy to build, especially if you have a niche of industry-specific knowledge. Mobile websites are easier and less expensive to develop but cannot compete with full-featured native apps. 

Should We Build the App In-House or Outsource?

Many popular modern apps were initially outsourced, including Skype and Digg. For the initial iteration of your product, save money by choosing an outside provider that fully understands your idea and specifications. Take over development and maintenance as you build a user base and begin to see a profit.

If you need legal help with starting your own app, you can post your job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.