So you're thinking about building your own application. You're in the right place. From this article, you'll know everything about becoming an application owner. People who are inexperienced with the IT industry usually think that they need to have the advanced technical knowledge to create a digital product. But it is not true. You don't have to be a developer to make your own application. You can be the brains of it and have others design it for you. But from the idea to the actual app, there are some steps you should go through.
Let's start with the fundamental question.
What is your app idea? Why am I asking you this? Because your application needs to have a strong purpose that will persuade people to use it. Take a look at your mobile device. How many apps do you have installed? I'd bet that about 50 to 60? I am sure that some of them attract you more, others less. It is all about the application purpose. So, my first advice for you is to validate your app idea first. How to do that? Quick exercise for future application owners. How about answering some questions?
- Does the app solve a problem/pain in a market?
- Does a similar solution exist?
- How do people feel about it?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the competition and their products?
- What would be your unique selling proposition?
- How can you monetize your app?
- How can you create stickiness for your app?
- Do you know your buyer persona?
Important note, you do not have to face the application idea validation alone. Business consulting is here to rescue. Working in a software house showed me that specialists who deal with the application market daily have a huge knowledge about it. We are here for your success. You can consult with us through free Design Thinking Workshops or benefit from the Discovery Phase service.
Of course, you don't have to build a commercial application. We have some clients who develop custom software to improve their internal business processes within the company. But in that case, you also need to know what is the aim of your software. Want to see an example of such an IT product? Meet Evally, our application for managing skills evaluations of the Railwaymen team. Thanks to this tool, our HR Department can manage hired and archived employees, search specialists by skills, ️ present the analytics about team members.
So, how to become an application owner when you don't have technical knowledge? 4 ways
There are 4 main possibilities for starting the new application. Which one is best for you? Well, it depends on the project scope, your company's growth stage, timeline, and budget. You can try to build it on your own or choose the proper partner to do the job for you:
01 Use app building platforms
To use app builder software or DIY app builders, you don't need any technical skills. Those programs aim to simplify application development and are dedicated to anyone who wants to become an app owner. The process of creating an application is based on setting up drag-n-drop components, functionality, and design (templates). There are many app makers ready to use on the market. You can use, for example, Appy Pie, Shoutem, Swiftic, GoodBarber, or BuildFire.
Application builders are helpful, and thanks to them, you can become an application owner relatively quickly. But is it the right business solution? Will such an application delight users and allow you to earn money? I am not sure about it. The main disadvantage of this approach is that your application can be easily duplicated. As app building platforms are widely available, everyone can use the same system and create your application's equivalent. How to ensure the Unique Value Proposition to the users through application build with software development platform? Seriously, I have no idea. The second main disadvantage is function limitation. If you dream about building a new Instagram, Uber, or Airbnb, it will be impossible to do that through a software platform. Those applications have a high level of advancement.
02 Build a development team in-house
Hiring developers in-house requires providing recruitment processes and people management. I'm sure that every business owner knows well what it involves. You need to post an encouraging job offer with requirements, interview the candidates, check their coding skills, and pick the best ones. You also have to ensure equipment, licenses, tools, systems, office space, taxes, onboarding process, etc. It demands a lot of effort and knowledge. The IT job market is specific nowadays because developers and designers are highly-required. Well, they are not easily recruited, that's for sure.
On the other hand, it gives you full control over the project and the possibility of meeting the employees face-to-face every day. After the onboarding, the crew is familiar with the project's assumptions, and the communication between company members goes smoothly. That should have a positive impact on the whole project.
In that case, as an application owner, you will be responsible for building the whole app development process from scratch. If you decide to build a team in-house, you will have to become familiar with programmers' work organization, their time management, app development approaches, app security solutions, the flow of information, software tools, and other necessary things. It is a challenge, especially for a non-technical person.
03 Hire freelancer
You can become an application owner by hiring a freelancer that has proper technical knowledge. How to find such a person? On social media groups or through dedicated websites like Freelancer.com. Thanks to hiring an independent, flexible coworker, you can save some money because they are usually about 20-30% cheaper than software houses. Why? Well, the IT company cost more because more people are working on your application.
Before you start cooperating with a freelancer, I advise you to estimate well whether one person will handle the whole project. Freelancer works alone, and you won't be the only customer, so you need to be aware that it may take much more time to complete the project. The biggest risk while working with them is unreliability or abandonment of the project. Your project may be drop down if a better-paid offer will appear. As an application owner, you can not afford such a situation.
04 Cooperate with software house
Choosing an IT company as a partner is the most popular option among application owners who want to develop custom software compatible with their specific business and industry needs. This solution will be a perfect choice if you have more sophisticated requirements and want a complex app development service. Software house is an organization that can ensure a group of IT specialists that will entirely run your project. What are the software company roles?
- Project Manager
- Back-end Developer
- Front-end Developer
- UX/UI Designer
- QA Specialist
- Mobile Developer
Why do you need all of them? Read the article click.
Usually, the software company needs about 3 months to deliver an application MVP (Minimum Viable Project). Work is organized in an agile way so that specialists can deliver applications relatively rapidly. How to recognize whether a company is worthy of attention? The right software house has a detailed portfolio of finished projects and offers all kinds of IT services: from business consultations, validation of new app ideas, UX/UI design to testing, fixing, and maintaining the application.
For many application owners, the main disadvantage of cooperation with a professional software company is the price. Well, the cost is strongly related to the project scope and implemented technology. From the business point of view, investing money into a high-quality partner gives you a higher chance of success.
Want to read more about the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer or software company? Check: Freelancer vs. Software House: 7 Factors You Need to Take Into Consideration
Which team is the owner of an application?
I know you may wonder, "Who is the owner of the application in case of cooperation with an external IT company? Me or the team of developers?" Code becomes your property once you pay for the particular app development stage. After the payment, you acquire property rights to the digital product, and you can call yourself an application owner ;) A reliable software company should give you a guarantee period for the code (usually, about 12 months). If, during this time, an outside developer will apply any code change, you will lose access to the guarantee.
Ok, I have an application, is the work finished?
Certainly not. Building a mobile or web application is the first step in your business journey. As an application owner, you'll need to take care of your digital project through maintenance, reacting to the users' needs and implementing new features, setting the monetization, sales, and marketing strategy.
Application owner plays a crucial role because he/she has business-specific knowledge, and thanks to that, it is possible to develop a product and keep it thriving. Which way is the best for you to become an application owner?
- If you are looking for a very cheap solution that will let you build an easy, small application, choose app building platforms.
- Pick the freelancer when you need a partner for a very short-term, ASAP, or irregular project.
- Choosing a software house with a team of professional specialists will be the best solution if you are thinking about a long-term, custom application (especially if you want to develop it constantly).
- Consider building your own IT crew in-house for a big, complex project that will be continued for many years.
It is impossible to develop an application without a project scoping and planning phase. During this phase, everything gets documented: application goals, features, and functions, development team tasks and responsibilities, technology stack, UX/UI design plan, and of course, deadlines & costs.
How to choose the proper partner? It is important to cooperate with the IT partner that will support you from the technical point and will stick with the timeline and budget. First of all, take a look at the portfolio and evaluate whether the IT provider will handle your project. Check the reviews on Clutch.co and find out what their clients talk about cooperation. Ask which country the developers are based. You want to avoid the situation you pay for specialists from the USA or Europe while the work is outsourced to India. Test the communication with the Project Manager. Finally, don't be afraid to ask questions.
At Railwaymen, we understand that app development generates a lot of inquiries and doubts. Check our FAQ that will tell you everything you need to know to become an application owner: